by: Nathan Bass and Vincenza Belletti
J.E.B. Stuart high school was founded in 1959. The high school’s name has recently however, become a debate. But who is JEB Stuart? JEB Stuart was one of the most famous cavalrymen on the Confederate side in the Civil War. He was a veteran of war from his time fighting Native Americans when he carried out orders from Robert E. Lee as 1st lieutenant in the 1st Cavalry during the Civil War. Stuart earned adoration from Confederate supporters along with resentful respect from Union soldiers. Stuart was buried in the honorable Confederate cemetery after his death in spring of 1864 in Richmond.
While he was a well-respected soldier, he was still a confederate and an even bigger argument stretching past Stuart’s boundary lines: Are confederate symbols still a symbol of racism or are they a part of history that needs to be remembered?
Nathan: The Civil War, while a dark time in America’s past, needs to be remembered in history. This includes the Confederate generals who played such an important role in the war. While they supported and fought for what we see as the wrong moral ideas, they were extremely smart and were the some of the bravest men in the war. Just as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are remembered through memorials such as high schools they too believed in slavery. Thomas Jefferson and other esteemed figures in history owned slaves. However we should focus on what they did that was good and not on these great men with outdated beliefs. These Confederate leaders should be given credit for what they accomplished and they were great generals and geniuses on the battlefield, but had outdated and morally incorrect ideas.
Vincenza: It’s morally wrong to name a high school after a confederate soldier for several reasons. One, it completely dismisses his support of slavery and that what he believed in was wrong. While J.E.B. Stuart was a good general, he’s beliefs render him unfit to have a school named after him. The Union captured Northern Virginia barely a month after they joined the confederacy, and the state seceded only a year after they joined, so it isn’t as if we we’re extreme confederates and felt the need to honor generals. Emily Vasquez says, “I think it’s bad [Stuart] is named after a confederate general because there are other more important people that should have a school dedicated to them.” By naming our school after J.E.B. Stuart we we’re in a sense dedicating a memorial to him and while it is a part of history it doesn’t have to be constantly remembered.
Nathan: The Confederate flag flew in 1860, not for slavery, but rather for the rights of the states freedom, and this is why the flag flies today. It did not represent the enslavement of a people but rather as a symbol of freedom and rebellion. Freshman Blen Yohanis believes that “the flag is just a flag, it doesn’t really mean anything.” The flag of Confederacy flies also today as a memoriam for the lost on either side of the war, the bloodiest war ever on American soil to this day. The flag stands for much more than a war, it has transformed to mean that the American people deserve freedom.
Vincenza: I do believe that confederate flags are a symbol of racism. While some people believe the confederate flag to be a symbol of southern pride, others believe it signifies a time of extreme racism and support of slavery. By keeping the confederate flag popular you’re bringing back the morals and values that were believed in by the confederate side during the Civil War. Sophomore Vittoria Valentine agrees that the confederate flag is a symbol of racism instead of a symbol of the South like others seem to believe. Junior Chelsea Bennett says “It’s totally and completely racist. I find it rude.”
Nathan: In the Confederate states in 1862 the only people that could read and write were white people; in 2014 the literacy rate is limited only by the people that do not accept free education. Anyone kid can go to school, so why would having a Confederate general’s name of the school be offensive. If anything this would be ironic because J.E.B. Stuart fought and died for the oppression of African-Americans now white people are in class with minorities showing the change through time. This would tell how we can live with our history, not push it down and out of sight. Lamont Lewis, a junior, vehemently claimed “[the civil war] ended so long ago that it does not even matter anymore.” The Civil War is a point in America’s history which is painful and could be forgotten, but it is important to remember that change is necessary for a Country to grow and become stronger.
Vincenza: Having a school named after a Confederate general is a blatant disregard of all civil rights passed in this country. This man stood for racism and the enslavement of a group of people that are becoming such a big part of the country. Also, when children in elementary schools learn about the Civil War and how their future high school is named after a Confederate general, they begin to doubt their country’s beliefs.
Photo by Zahid Khan