Letter: Name new middle school for Ellen Garrison

April 27, 2023

The names of the Willard, Thoreau, Alcott, Peabody, and Sanborn schools remind students of the contributions of past Concordians. We propose that the new Concord Middle School be named “The Garrison School” in honor of Ellen Garrison.

Born in what is now known as “The Robbins House,” Ellen attended Concord public schools and as a teenager she signed civil rights petitions. After supporting antislavery causes in Boston, Ellen taught in Rhode Island. In 1863, she applied to teach formerly enslaved people, writing “I think it is our duty as a people to spend our lives in trying to elevate our own race.” 

Nearly 90 years before Rosa Parks, Ellen refused to give up her seat in a Baltimore train station. Ellen sued the stationmaster. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 had recently passed ensuring that all citizens were allowed to sue in court. It is believed that Ellen’s suit was a test case, and established that blacks did have legal standing in court. Ellen went on to teach throughout the South and in Kansas before dying in California. 

Due to Ellen’s courage, place in history, and dedication to education, it is fitting to name the new school in her honor. 

Rob Morrison

Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council