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West Hartford’s superintendent of schools, principals, teachers and the Board of Education deserve high praise, and deserve to be basking in the afterglow of a very successful commencement for Hall and Conard High School students. Given that the coronavirus pandemic is still posing a threat, they are of course all hard at work preparing for whatever may come next month when teachers return, and in September when the 2020-2021 school year begins.
That said, events in the news this week compelled me to re-raise an issue that I recognize is not as much a priority given the importance of securing everyone’s health. I was motivated by a message to the community from Tom Moore himself, earlier this year, that racial inequality must be addressed wherever it is found.
To me and my very white family, the names of our two high school sports teams remain an embarrassment and a blot on our diverse community. Isn’t it time to retire the “Warriors” and “Chieftains” and other derogatory war-like references to Native Americans? I know there is a large, outspoken segment of our community that has fought all attempts to change these names, and that they cite the support of a Native American as evidence of those names being proud reminders of that culture. I’m also aware of how this was previously addressed. The result was a compromise that left the names intact, something I opposed, although not publicly.
I’ve been told the Board needs to hear from more than one voice to consider action again. I’ll take that as a challenge to gather more voices for the names of our high school teams to be reconsidered in the months to come.
My bottom line: If the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians can take another look at changing their names, should we not, also?
Again, I respect that there are other, more pressing priorities right now; this is indeed a back burner issue for the Board, as I have been told. But to me, it is never too late to do the right thing.
I close with my thanks to everyone in the West Hartford Public Schools for all you do for our town’s school children and their families.