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Letter: Rename New Street in West Hartford After an African American

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The following letter was sent to Mayor Shari Cantor and the West Hartford Town Council on Jan. 13, 2021, and was shared with We-Ha.com for publication.

Dear Mayor Cantor and the Town Council,

I am writing to petition for New Street in Blue Back Square to be named after an enslaved African American, namely Lyde. None of the streets in West Hartford are currently named after an enslaved person, and there were many slaves in the West Hartford area. Lyde is a great candidate to have a street named after her because she is a good example of enslaved women in West Hartford around 1770.

There are lots of streets named after Native American tribes in West Hartford, which helps us encourage diversity. On the other hand, none of the 600 streets in West Hartford are named after an African American. There were many enslaved African Americans in West Hartford, and yet none of them have a street named after them. With the Witness Stones project becoming more prevalent, more and more stories of enslaved people in Connecticut are turning up. This provides lots of different options for enslaved people to name a street after. While it could be said that someone has to be famous to get a street named after them, LeMay of LeMay Road wasn’t famous, the family just lived there for a long time.

Finally, slavery is not just the South’s history. It’s our history, too, and we need to recognize that. If we bury our history of slavery, how can we reconcile and grow to be more inclusive as a town?

Thank you for your time and consideration on this important legacy of our town.

Max Bernstein
King Philip Middle School

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