Do we even deserve an Ellen Garrison Middle School?

May 31, 2024

Technicalities. The grandfather clause and the literacy test were technicalities that denied African Americans the vote. That it was legal was a technicality. So were federal redlining policies that confined Blacks to economically poor neighborhoods. So were land grabs of Native American homelands and the use of eminent domain to bulldoze African American neighborhoods to build highways at the expense of the homes, businesses, and capital of those communities. White juries refusing to convict whites for heinous crimes against Blacks and other minorities had every right to do so, technically.

There is so much we need to do to right the wrongs of past and current systemic racism. In naming the new middle school, we have an opportunity to at least show where we stand. But our School Committee (or maybe three people on it) has the technical right to name it. They can ignore the passion of almost 1,000 people at Town Meeting; ignore the educational value for decades to come; ignore the welcome it could offer to diverse citizens; ignore the chance to tell Concord’s real and honorable history; and most painfully of all, publicly turn their backs on people of color who have bravely shared their experiences in this, their community.

Right now, do we even deserve Ellen Garrison’s name? Do we have a fraction of her integrity, courage, strength, and wisdom to reflect on what is at stake here and just do the right thing?

Judith Frediani

Center Village Drive