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Petition Seeks Garfield Columbus School Name Change

Venise J. Salcedo
Venise J. Salcedo Photo Credit: FACEBOOK (inset) / Googlemaps

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 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.

SEE: Rename Garfield, NJ's "Christopher Columbus" School #8 Elementary School

“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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