Seize golden opportunity to name school for Ellen Garrison

April 13, 2024

For me and my family, it’s been interesting, heartening, and a little bit painful to see the outpouring of letters and meetings about naming the middle school for Ellen Garrison. It’s disappointing to see this topic reduced to a debate about the School Committee’s authority. Another way to see this moment: a passionate plea from a community that wants to make amends with a piece of our history that has been hidden for too long. 

If I could roll back time… the story of Ellen Garrison would have made a meaningful impression on our daughter when she was growing up here and forming her own sense of self as one of the few African American Concordians. I wish she and her schoolmates could have had Garrison in name and story lodged in their sub-consciousness with Thoreau, Walden, Alcott, and Emerson.  

This is a chance to acknowledge — with an institution we hold dear — our collective respect for an African American woman, raised and educated in Concord, who excelled in academics and gave generously to her community and country in the face of insurmountable obstacles. Additionally, and what I am most excited about — what a beautiful opportunity to present Ellen Garrison as a platform for educating and preparing our children about the complexities of our nation’s history and how and why she, though constantly challenged, dedicated her life to the meaning of liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness.   

Let’s seize this golden opportunity for our children and our community!   

Jennifer Hurley-Wales  

Old Marlboro Road