CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The Rev. Rose Edington is tired of seeing history disappear.
Edington, 64, has thrown her support behind those who are clamoring for West Side Elementary to be renamed in honor of the late Mary C. Snow, a prominent African-American educator.
If school officials don't go along, Edington said it would be another example of a prominent African-American being lost in history.
She recalls growing up in St. Albans before integration. Some days she would take a walk with her mother and younger sister past Carter G. Woodson Junior High School.
At least, that used to be the school's name.
She was too young to realize the school was strictly for black children. Edington, who is white, also was unaware of the history behind its namesake.
"I always liked to go by that school because they had the best windows. They had student art, and it was always the best-decorated school, and I remember telling my mom, 'Gee, I'd love to go to that school. It looks like a great school.' And my mom would say, 'Well, you just can't go to that school.' "
By the time she was old enough for junior high, Edington did, in fact, find herself attending the school. In the wake of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that called for desegregation, black and white students were attending school together.
But name of Carter G. Woodson was no longer on the school. Now it was called McKinley Junior High School, presumably named for a white U.S. president who served in the Union Army during the Civil War and spent some time in the Kanawha Valley.
Unbeknownst to Edington, there was a rich history behind the school that she attended from seventh through ninth grades.
It would be many years before she would learn that the school previously was named for a black West Virginian who became a prominent educator.
Woodson, born in Virginia in 1875 to former slaves, was the second African-American to graduate from Harvard University with a doctorate, just behind W.E.B. DuBois.
His family moved to West Virginia after hearing a school for black children was being built in Huntington. He worked in the coal mines in Fayette County and taught himself in two years the basics in English and mathematics. Woodson enrolled at Frederick Douglass Junior and Senior High School at age 20 and graduated two years later.
Woodson went on to teach in Fayette County and was later named principal at Douglass. He earned a Bachelor's degree in literature from Berea College in Kentucky and later earned a Master's degree from the University of Chicago before attending Harvard.
He also founded Negro History Week, which later became known as Black History Month.
"I just remember being like, 'How could I have not known that?' " Edington said.
"How did I graduate from high school, graduate from college, go to work on a master's degree before I found out that Carter G. Woodson was a West Virginian?
"It just boggled me; it just felt like something everyone should know."
She doesn't want to see today's students miss the legacy of Snow the way she missed the legacy of Woodson.
Snow was the first black principal in the county after integration. She served for many years at Glenwood Elementary, one of the two schools that were consolidated at West Side Elementary.
School board members voted not to rename the school, citing the procedure involving students, teachers and some community members that was used to name it before it was opened.
But many residents, including several black ministers, have stepped forward to say they were neither consulted nor allowed to vote.
Edington said that honoring Snow would help keep her legacy alive and prevent another piece of history from being buried.
"I think we could do a better job of keeping our history more alive so that we know our role models of the past and know that they weren't all white people," Edington said.
Charleston Councilman Cubert Smith, 9th Ward Independent, lived through part of that history.
Smith, 75, went to Carter G. Woodson Junior High School when it had only nine rooms and a portable classroom for shop classes. Smith went to Woodson until he finished the ninth grade.