July 17, 2020
The Kanawha County Board of Education finally decided to remove Stonewall Jackson’s name from the Middle School (formerly a High School) on Charleston’s West Side.
It’s long overdue, and I have to wonder what took so long.
To be honest, I have ALWAYS wondered why we had a school and a monument that honored the memory of a terrorist and traitor to this country.
I remember when I was a kid, somewhere between the age of seven and ten. Even at that young age I had been taught the truth about the Civil War–that The South wanted to keep Black people as slaves, and launched an attack against our country in order to try and do so. I don’t know whether I learned this from my parents or my first-grade teacher, or if I had just picked it up from watching cartoons on TV or reading comics, but I did know that The South were the bad guys in the Civil War, and we soundly defeated them.
Before that one fateful moment when my older brother explained it to me, I thought that Stonewall Jackson must have been a Union General. My mind could not comprehend that we would name schools after a traitor…a villain.
At first, I thought my brother was joking. He would make jokes like that. It just didn’t make any sense. So at the first chance I looked it up and I was shocked.
My thought was, “How the HELL did this happen?”
That may be what started me on my life-long fascination with propaganda, misinformation and how evil people will twist the truth to suit their needs. It definitely left me with an impression that sticks with me to this day.
I later learned that an entire false narrative that Jackson was a brilliant military tactician who would have won the war had he not been killed had been ingrained in history books and was even being taught at the college level.
Which is pretty amazing. The truth is that Jackson was a middling general who got lucky a few times and was promoted beyond his abilities. He was shot by his own troops after raiding a Union Army camp that one of his scouts found by accident. I repeat, the man was shot by his own troops at what should have been the triumph of his greatest piece of dumb luck yet.
To me, that seems less like the end of a military genius, and more like the final act of a dumbass.
He was the Douglas C. Neidermyer of the Civil War.
The only reason schools were named after him and statues erected of him was to intimidate Black People. The fundraising for these efforts was spearheaded by a group unofficially known as the women’s auxillary of the Ku Klux Klan. This was part of a nationwide campaign to spread lies about the Civil War. These statues and monuments and school names were an organized and well-funded effort to rewrite history so that the South could play the victim. They were a reminder that white supremacy was still the order of the land.
So it’s time we strip the names of confederate leaders from schools and forts and take down monuments to their memory. They never should have been there in the first place.
As for what’s next, as I write this I have just learned that the Kanawha County School Board voted to go with the blandest of bland names, and the Middle School will now be named “West Side Middle School.”
So there go all my jokes about what to call the sports teams if they named the school after Katherine Johnson or Booker T. Washington (that would be “The Battling Johnsons” and “The MGs,” respectively).
Any change is good, but it would have been nice if they’d decided to give the school a name that might inspire girls and Black kids. So I guess the teams will be “The West Siders” and maybe their mascot will be a mayonnaise sandwich on white bread.
Anyway, now that we have that done, can we do something about that creepy statue of Stonewall Jackson with a huge boner that is still on our state capitol grounds? I mean, seriously, can’t we put a Big Boy or Gumby or anything more appropriate than a monument to an apparently aroused inept terrorist in that space? Look at that thing. I’m afraid to turn my back on that monstrosity.
More, More, More MIRRORBALL
We offer up our sixth edition of MIRRORBALL Friday afternoon on The AIR. and that’s followed by two great encore epsodes of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. You can hear all this good stuff on The AIR website, or just click on this embedded radio player…
MIRRORBALL returns as Mel Larch brings you another great collection of vintage disco, to which you may indeed boogie till your butt falls off. Check out the playlist…
KC & The Sunshine Band “Get Down Tonight”
Karen Young “Hot Shot”
The Isley Brothers “It’s A Disco Night”
The Nolans “I’m In The Mood For Dancing”
Average White Band “Let’s Go Round Again”
The O’Jays “I Love Music”
Archie Bell and the Drells “Soul City Walking”
Melba Moore “Pick Me Up, I’ll Dance”
Sarah Brightman and Hot Gossip “I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper”
Frantique “Strut Your Funky Stuff”
Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes “The Love I Lost”
Herbie Hancock “You Bet Your Love”
The Drifters “You’re More Than A Number”
Andrea True Connection “What’s Your Name, What’s Your Number”
You can tune in at 2 PM and hear the latest edition of MIRRORBALL. The plan is to drop a new episode roughly every other Friday afternoon, until Mel gets tired of doing it, or people stop listening. Later today, it will go up in the Podcast section of The AIR website, so you can listen on demand. MIRRORBALL will also be replayed Friday night at 10 PM, Saturday at 6 PM (part of a marathon), Sunday at 11 PM and Tuesday at 1 PM. We’ll probably sneak in a few more airings during the week.
And that is our odd couple of items in The PopCulteer this week. Check back for fresh content every day and all our regular features.