Letter: Not naming new middle school for Ellen Garrison is a missed opportunity 

February 19, 2024

For shame, Concord. The best we could do for the new Concord Middle School is… Concord Middle School? This erases the unique opportunity the town had to name a public building — for the first time — for a Black female resident of our historic hamlet. As a town that prides itself on being Revolutionary, how very backwards of us. 

Ellen Garrison Jackson Clark was one of Concord’s most intelligent, courageous citizens. She refused to give up her seat in a segregated Baltimore train depot years before Rosa Parks became a household name. She was a noted abolitionist who devoted her life to equal rights causes, traveling across the United States to educate newly freed people on how to read and write. Any school should be proud to carry on her legacy, and it feels all the more urgent because no building has been named for a Black resident in our 400-year history. 

My son will be part of the first sixth grade class to walk the halls of the new middle school, and here’s a thought: Instead of letting a white, privileged older generation select the name, let’s ask the kids what name they want to cross under at the threshold of the building. This cohort of students came into awareness of the world around them as kindergartners during the Covid summer of Black Lives Matter. We adults do them a poor disservice if we once more erase Ellen’s name from history — showing them these lives don’t matter after all.  

I want my son and the other children of Concord’s future to cross under Ellen’s name on that opening day, conscious of the strong Black woman she was, and of her important legacy in this town. Imagine him knowing that she is who we’ve chosen to honor, a powerful figure who paved the way for a better, more egalitarian society. It’s only one small step we can take in the right direction, but one that seems truly revolutionary, worthy perhaps of who we claim to be as Concordians. 

Rebecca Lemaitre 

Nathan Pratt Drive