Ryan Sawyers, the county’s At-large School Board Chairman, a Democrat who is now seeking a seat in Congress, issued a rallying cry to supporters calling for the name changes after this past weekend’s violent white nationalist protests in Charlottesville where three people died.
“When we name a school after someone we honor and celebrate that person. These schools were named in a time when Brown v. Board of Education, integration, and the Civil Rights Act were being implemented across our country. Under the false rhetoric of ‘heritage,’ these schools were, in fact, named after a Confederate icon as a “thumb in the eye” to Federal actions ending their continued racial segregation of public schools,” Sawyers stated.
Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was a Confederate general and is regarded by historians as one of the most gifted military commanders in U.S. history. Jackson fought at the 1st and 2nd battles of Manassas during the Civil War and later died at age 39 after a battle in Chancellorsville outside Fredericksburg.
Stonewall Middle School, located at 10100 Lomond Drive near Manassas opened in 1964 and is home to 1,140 students. Stonewall Jackson Senior High School, located at 8820 Rixlew Lane near Manassas, opened in 1973, is home to 2,400 students, and the county’s International Baccalaureate Program.
Sawyers has no clue why the school was named Stonewall Jackson High School. He isn’t from around here. My guess is that the school was named for Stonewall Jackson because Thomas Jonathan Jackson got his nickname, “Stonewall,” 2 miles away at Manassas Battlefield. To suggest that the school was named to stick a “thumb in the eye” of federal actions is incorrect and frankly, stupid.
I am going to suggest that Sawyers is opportunistic and using tragedy to satisfy his own greedy political ambitions. Leave the name alone. Literally thousands of graduates demand that the name not be changed.