A former Garfield resident spent Columbus Day campaigning to rename a public school in town.
“Christopher Columbus did not discover America, but[,] rather, stole and destroyed the land and history of [i]ndigenous [p]eoples who continue to suffer from his actions today,” Venise J. Salcedo wrote in a change.org petition that seeks to rename School No. 8.
Salcedo, who works for Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia, believes that the pre-K-to-5th grade school should be named for “someone who best reflects the values of its students, staff, faculty and alumni.”
“European colonization of this land murdered most of our [i]ndigenous brothers and sisters, ravaged entire cities, and infected whole communities with foreign diseases,” the 2019 Temple University and Bergen County Tech graduate wrote.
“Celebrating a man who represents racism and hatred are not the values of School #8, and the home of our future thinkers should no longer be named after him,” she added. “Keeping this school name delegitimizes the experiences of [i]ndigenous [p]eoples by celebrating a man who has caused great pain.”
Salcedo had gotten more than 250 electronic signatures on her petition in roughly a day and a half after launching it on Sunday.
“It is understandable that a change such as this may not be welcomed by members of our community who have a connection to School #8,” she wrote, “but it is critically important to recognize the suffering that Christopher Columbus represents for so many people in this country.
“Though this is a small step, it is a necessary one. The hope is that this will contribute to a larger conversation where respect and equality are at the forefront.”
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