MANASSAS, Va. - Prince William County School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers said he is working with school officials, citizens, and local community groups to rename Stonewall Jackson High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.

The county is located roughly 30 miles from Washington, D.C., in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial. 

In the same county that Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson earned his nickname in violent rebellion against the United States during the Civil War, the renaming will "make a stand against the hate he fought to protect," Sawyers said via news release.

“Stonewall Jackson died defending the perverse institution of human ownership,” said Sawyers, a 1996 Fort Hill High School graduate who announced in May he received support for his run for Congress in Virginia's First Congressional District.

“When we name a school after someone, we honor and celebrate that person," Sawyers said. "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.”

Mindful of the financial constraints placed on the school district, Sawyers is raising private funds -- via gofundme -- to pay for the renaming, which is estimated to cost $250,000 for the middle school and $500,000 for the high school.

"It is clear that school names celebrating the Confederacy have no legitimate place in our children’s lives," Sawyers said.

"Continuing to teach about the Confederacy and its leaders in the context of the Civil War remains an integral part of our curriculum in the same way we teach about the Nazis and their leaders during World War II," Sawyers said. "Putting these lessons in their proper context will strengthen our children’s education, while at the same time denying those who seek to misappropriate history in order to advance their hate-filled agendas."

In today's political climate, such monuments are used as rallying points by the radical Alt-Right, Neo-Nazis and the KKK "to terrorize minority communities," Sawyers said.

“The time has come to remove the legacy of Stonewall Jackson right where it began," Sawyers said. "It’s time to remember real heroes.”

Learn more at gofundme.com/4a62qao.

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CUMBERLAND TIMES-NEWS, ctn@times-news.com

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