Stonewall Jackson window memorialized at black church in Virginia

ROANOKE, Va. — General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was one of the best-known commanders of the Confederate Army, and a Virginian. 

So, it’s not a big surprise that he’s memorialized in a stained glass window at Roanoke’s Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. 

That is, until you meet its congregation. 

The Stonewall Jackson window has been part of this black church for 125 years, surviving a fire in 1959 that took the rest of the church with it, CBS News correspondent Mo Rocca reports. 

But third-generation member Joyce Bolden says the window is not about Jackson, the owner of slaves, but Jackson the lesser-known teacher of slaves — including the parents of an early pastor. 

“This was a monument to the future of the African-American race,” Boldan said. “I believe it’s being memorialized. Stonewall Jackson was as a human being and as a man of Christ, of faith. He defied all the laws of the South by educating his slaves. He taught them to read and write.” 

Reverend Vernie Bolden is Fifth Avenue’s current pastor. 

“The man fought for slavery,” Vernie said. “That is the man. Can we separate the man from his military work?”

The conversation over the window continues. But across the country, a legion of Confederate monuments have fallen, some after the 2015 Charleston massacre of nine black churchgoers by a white supremacist. Then, many more after white supremacists used the proposed removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, as pretext for a rally that shocked the nation. 

“We’re having, once again, for whatever it is, the 17th time, a major racial reckoning in America,” Yale Civil War historian David Blight said. “And we don’t know exactly where this one’s going.”

From the start, Blight says most Confederate monuments were used by defeated southern whites to reassert dominance over freed blacks. 

“A sole monument to a Confederate soldier or to his unit is not necessarily a monument to white supremacy,” Blight said. “However, the broader process of Confederate memorialization has everything to do with creating a white supremacist society. There’s just no doubt about that when you go back and look at the period and look at the relationship between not just monuments but the whole memorialization process of the Confederacy.”

The first major Confederate monument of Stonewall Jackson was unveiled in Richmond in 1875.

“[An] estimated 50,000 people attended this thing, lots of speeches,” Blight said. “Blacks were only allowed to participate in this…

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