Letter: Ellen Garrison still deserves Concord’s recognition 

February 24, 2024

Recently, the School Committee voted against naming the new middle school in honor of 19th-century Black female educator Ellen Garrison, who was born in Concord, attended Concord public schools, and watched her mother serve in the Antislavery Society. Currently, students and tourists alike learn of the contributions of the Garrison family thanks to the Robbins House mission. 
“Concord Middle School” is not an “inclusive” name, it simply announces, “This middle school is in Concord.” If we can put aside the question of whether five public servants should name the school or, as is currently proposed, the voters of Concord should name it, we can focus on how this moment in time (during Black History Month in 2024) will be remembered. 

We can agree that in healthy school communities, we seek examples of achievement and service. Highlighting the example of one person does not diminish another. What does it mean when our kids are elected captain, perform a solo, start a club, or receive a Hoot award? It means that they are seen and celebrated and while we are a group, we represent different talents and roles. It means teaching students about individual growth, inclusion, and community.  

How can we say “no” to this opportunity to memorialize an educator and child of Concord, honoring her talent and role among the four white men whose names have already created pride and belonging in our school system? Let our community represent students and parents of color, and daughters and mothers of Concord — for even Alcott School, my daughter once announced with shock, “is not named for Louisa! it’s named for her father, Bronson!”  

Let’s offer Ellen Garrison her place in the system, honoring her as the student and trained teacher our town still celebrates, with her name on a Concord school. 

Sarah Jennings 

Main Street