West Virginia Public Broadcasting Published

Groups Call on Capitol Building Commission To Remove Stonewall Jackson Statue


A group of 30 organizations across West Virginia is calling on the Capitol Building Commission and Gov. Jim Justice to take down a statue of Stonewall Jackson from the state Capitol grounds.

In an open letter, the groups including the ACLU of West Virginia, the NAACP of West Virginia, WVU Black Law Students Association, and the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, criticized the commission for meeting this week without discussing the matter.

“Although state and local governments across the country, including in our own capital city, are finally taking rightful action to remove statues and monuments that glorify some of the most shameful periods of our country’s history, the Commission’s reasoning for not addressing the statue’s continued presence on state grounds is because they had not received any requests to do so,” they wrote in the letter.

“Chairman [Randall] Reid-Smith and members of the Capitol Building Commission: Consider this a formal request,” they wrote to the panel who oversees structures on the grounds of the state capitol complex. 

Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson was a Confederate general and slave holder, who was born in 1824 in what is now Clarksburg, West Virginia. 

Earlier this week, the school board in Kanawha County voted to rename the former Stonewalll Jackson Middle School. And last week, the City of Charleston removed a bronze plaque from a memorial at one of its parks. It lists the names of local men who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Last month, Justice said whether the memorials at the state Capitol should remain are a matter for the Legislature to consider. He avoided saying whether he wants to see them taken down. But state code gives the Capitol Building Commission, which the governor partially appoints, authority to decide on the future of statues on Capitol grounds.

“I don’t think I have any right to make a decision. I think that’s a legislative right,” Justice said. “From the standpoint of my personal beliefs, I don’t feel like — that — anyone should feel uncomfortable here. This is our capitol. This is our state. This is our people.”