Letter: Inspire students: name middle school for Ellen Garrison 

February 2, 2024

Before I came to work at The Robbins House, I was a college professor. Throughout the years I was an adjunct professor at several area higher educational institutions in Massachusetts, I would tell my students that representation matters. Regardless of race, gender or class, they should see themselves reflected in the landscape of the American past or I wasn’t doing my job well enough. 

Concord has an amazing opportunity to name the new middle school after Ellen Garrison, an educator and 19th-century civil rights activist. Ellen grew up in this community, attended the public school in town and when she left to begin her teaching career, she often visited the town she frequently referred to as home. 

The moral and educational foundations this community provided Ellen early in her life gave her the courage to be one of the first African Americans to challenge segregation in the United States in the aftermath of the passage of the first Civil Rights Act in 1866. Her actions, while not as well-known as they should be today, were truly historic when she stepped into that Baltimore train station in May of 1866.  

Ellen Garrison’s personal courage and her fundamental belief in the importance of expanded educational opportunities for all Americans would be a true inspiration to generations of Concord school students. They will be able to look at Ellen and her history and ask themselves; “if she could do that, what will I accomplish in the world? How will I leave my mark for the better in Concord and American society today?” 

Jen Turner 

Executive Director  

The Robbins House