City will consider renaming Stonewall Jackson Middle School

Photo credit: WDBJ7
Photo credit: WDBJ7(WHSV)
Published: Sep. 4, 2017 at 11:05 AM EDT
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Officials in Roanoke will consider renaming Stonewall Jackson Middle School.

Saturday that it is the city's only remaining school that's named after a Confederate general. A portrait of Jackson also hangs in the building.

School board Chairwoman Annette Lewis said a committee is being formed to address the matter.

The building dates to 1923. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was a Confederate commander who earned his nickname in the First Battle of Manassas, also known as Bull Run, in 1861.

Most famously in our area, Jackson led the Valley Campaign in the spring of 1862, marching the Army of the Valley hundreds of miles and winning several battles against overwhelming odds. It's widely considered as one of the most successful campaigns in military history. You can learn more about that history

.

Two of Jackson's descendants, Jack and Warren Christian, have penned a letter calling for the removal of monuments to him, like the one in Richmond.

“We have learned about his reluctance to fight and his teaching of Sunday School to enslaved peoples in Lexington, Virginia, a potentially criminal activity at the time," part of the letter read. "We have learned how thoughtful and loving he was toward his family. But we cannot ignore his decision to own slaves, his decision to go to war for the Confederacy, and, ultimately, the fact that he was a white man fighting on the side of white supremacy.”

In July, Fairfax County’s school board voted to rename J.E.B. Stuart High, named for a Confederate cavalry officer; however, the county has yet to choose a new name for the school.

The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates that 21 schools in Virginia are named after well-known Confederate generals. Most were built either between 1950 and 1970, around the time Brown v. Board of Education mandated school integration, or in the early 1900's when Jim Crow laws were prevalent throughout the South.

Calls for the renaming of such schools follow the violence that erupted last month during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.