Letter: Continued support for an ‘Ellen Garrison Middle School’  

February 24, 2024

Almost two years of effort went into bringing the significance of Ellen Garrison’s life and contributions to our attention in service of offering hers as an ideal name for the new middle school. The Board’s process found 23 worthy names. Last week, we were party to the discussion, vote and reporting in the Bridge.  

I strongly support Ellen Garrison as the name for our new middle school. Concord Middle School is neither inspiring nor aspirational. Disregarding Ellen Garrison Middle School begs the question, why is this such a difficult ask? A Black child of Concord, her parents, escaped or self-manumitted slaves. Raised free, educated in the Concord Public School System. Marching at 12 (after prior ill treatment), in Concord’s 1835 bicentennial celebration with her white schoolmate, “beneath the gaze of curiosity, surprise, ridicule, and admiration.” Active in local antislavery societies. Teaching regionally, in 1863, she applied to the American Missionary Society to teach freedmen. She traveled the country to teach. In May 1866, she and a fellow teacher were forcibly ejected from a Baltimore train station for sitting in the segregated white ladies waiting room in a test of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. Remarried and afflicted with tuberculosis, she spent her last years in Pasadena. Altadena, California honors Ellen Garrison as the Rosa Parks of her time while Concord struggles to recognize her!  

On the current level of civil discourse in our nation, one hears, “that’s not who we are” intoned. We have a rare opportunity to educate and inspire. An opportunity to show who we want to become. This is not a solution, it is but a step that must be followed by the hard work of making change. Concord, we have a simple choice that can animate us and illuminate who we are. 

Michael  Williams 

Sudbury Road