Charlottesville, VA - The Kudzu Project targeted a school sign in the Shenandoah Valley moments before the Staunton School Board convened on the evening of Monday, December 11, 2017.
Citizens of Staunton have repeatedly requested that the school board change the school’s name to Staunton High School or another name that would reflect the board’s stated commitment to diversity and inclusion. In response to this ongoing debate, a “flash installation” of knitted kudzu covered the sign in front of Robert E. Lee High School long enough for photo documentation and was quickly removed, leaving a lone strand in place. Images of the installation have been posted on The Kudzu Project’s website and social media accounts.
In an article published by the News Leader on August 19, Mary Baldwin University history professor Clayton Brooks traced the school’s name to an appeal to the school board by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1914. Beginning in the 1890s, the UDC mounted a campaign to glorify the Antebellum South and deny the centrality of slavery to the Confederacy through the narrative of the “Lost Cause.” The valorization of Confederate soldiers, and the placement of statues memorializing them, was a large part of this movement. By influencing the textbooks used in schools, the UDC controlled the way Civil War history was taught. According to Brooks, “These groups so successfully indoctrinated their version of history that it remains, in the 21st century, an accepted narrative of history for many individuals, especially in the states of the former Confederacy.”
More than thirty “craftivists” contributed knitted kudzu leaves and vines to The Kudzu Project, a guerrilla art installation that first appeared on the statue of a Confederate soldier in front of the Albemarle County Courthouse in Charlottesville, Virginia on November 9, 2017.