In two recent Post-Dispatch articles concerning the renaming of the Kennard Classical Junior Academy, the authors chose words we found disconcerting due to possible inaccuracies, presumptions and lack of context, leading to questionable conclusions. In full disclosure, the eponymous Samuel Kennard was our great-grandfather.
The article, “Confederate Army lieutenant Kennard dropped from name of St. Louis school” (Aug. 16), fails to mention the immense good he did after the Civil War. Kennard served on numerous boards of charitable organizations, was a major contributor to Barnes Hospital and a leading promoter of the 1904 World’s Fair. At his death, he left bequests to a number of charities including the Methodist Episcopal Church, St. Louis Widows Home, St. Vincent de Paul Society and Jewish Associated Charities.
But the Short Takes editorial item, “New name, new times (Aug. 22),” was the worst, by assigning guilt by association. Kennard joined the Confederacy as a teenager along with 750,000 others. There is absolutely no way for the Post-Dispatch to know how or why Kennard was attached to Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who later purportedly was a founder of the Ku Klux Klan.
Lastly, realizing the current climate of riding high on the moral outrage bandwagon, the editorial called Kennard a “racist traitor” for serving in the Confederate army, words in context with his life we find bitter to swallow.
J. Kennard Streett and Donald H. Streett • St. Louis County