This week, on December 6th in 1865, the required 27 states ratified the Constitution's Thirteenth Amendment, which was proclaimed on December 18th of that same year to the citizens of The United States of America. This was a monumental time of Reconstruction after the American Civil War. The 13th Amendment (abolishing slavery as an accepted economic practice) was the first of three amendments (the 14th: qualifying citizenship to formerly enslaved Americans and the 15th: the right of all citizens to vote) that began the journey of claiming equity for formerly enslaved African Americans in our country.
This is extremely important to recognize. The leaders of the Confederate States of America duly proclaimed the purpose of the CSA. The clearest explanation comes from vice president Stephens in 1861 in a speech he gave only days before the first shots of the American Civil War. Here is a portion of what he says regarding the new government: "No citizen is deprived of life, liberty, or property, but by the judgment of his peers under the laws of the land. The great principle of religious liberty, which was the honor and pride of the old constitution, is still maintained and secured. All the essentials of the old constitution, which have endeared it to the hearts of the American people, have been preserved and perpetuated" (Stephens, 1861).
Stephens continues in the same speech, after laying out some of the changes in the CSA's new constitution relative to that of the USA: "The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution" (Stephens, 1861).
Life. Liberty. Property. These were fruits for CSAmerican citizens. Negroes, as Stephens refers to Africans - even those born on American soil - were not citizens. They were Property. The foundation of the CSA was on the inferiority of peoples our Constitution proclaims today as equal citizens!
Lee, Jackson, and Ashby were leaders fighting for the CSA. Ultimately they were fighting for the advancement of Stephens' ideals and truths about this new government. It is unacceptable to honor any Confederate leader by using his name on public school buildings in the United States of America today. To do so would go against what our Constitution proclaims, what our country stands for, and what our leaders today should be upholding.
SENK is an artist and writer in the Shenandoah Valley. The blog, 52 Weeks, is an ethical contemplation on the importance of choosing public school names that are not divisive within a community. Each post is based on over eight years of research by the author. 52 Weeks is a compassionate appeal to community and school board members to not revert to the names of Confederate leaders for Shenandoah County, Va, public schools.
47 / Maintaining Public Peace
46 / Brown v. Board
45 / Rebuilding a Pro-Confederate South
44 / An Out-of-area Education
43 / Where's the 'Common Sense Consideration'?
42 / Education Without Heart
41 / Self-Preservation
40 / Free Public Schools
39 / The Mask of Defiance
38 / The Golden Door of Freedom
37 / Prejudicial to our Race
36 / Are We Compassionate?
35 / Community
34 / Need for Radical Change
33 / Bitter Prejudice
32 / Fear of 'Negro Equality'
31 / Rachel, Lashed to Death
30 / The Whim of the Court: A Look at Jacob, Stacy, Lett; March & Peter; Jeffrey & Peter
29 / Ben, Tom, Ned, Clary, & two men from the furnace
28 / The Loss of Fortune
27 / James Scott, A Free Man
26 / The Unremembered, The Unheard
25 / The American Cause
24 / Tithables for the County & Parish
23 / Satisfactory Proof of Being Free
22 / Building Community Takes Trust
21 / Jacob's Case
20 / Whose Control?
19 / Racial Classifications
18 / The Cost of Freedom in 1840
17 / Sale of Children
16 / Bequeathal of Future Increase
15 / The First Annual
14 / From a Descendant of a CSA Soldier
13 / True Americanism
12 / Slavery. A Hot Topic.
11 / Real Character
10 / Real Apologies
9 / Freedom from Fear
8 / 250 Years
7 / The Courage of Christ
6 / Whose Narratives?
5 / The 13th Amendment
4 / Symbolic Act of Justice
3 / Giving Thanks
2 / Confederate Congress
1 / Veteran's Day