NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The New Haven Board of Education voted Monday night to commit to changing the name of the Christopher Columbus Family Academy. Tuesday, the migrant community in New Haven celebrated the decision outside the school.
Anything named after the explorer has become a target lately. Over the weekend, the school in the Fair Haven neighborhood was hit by vandals. Someone splattered red paint on its sign.
Students have been attending the school since it opened in 1968 when it was named to honor the Italian explorer. However, in recent years, Columbus has been widely criticized for his exploitation of indigenous peoples.
Last week, the City Council decided to remove the Columbus statue in Wooster Square. Saturday, that statue, too, was hit with red paint
Monday, the board heard a few public comments regarding the name of the school.
Board of Education Member Dr. Edward Joyner read some of them:
“A celebration of this problematic figure on a public school building attended daily by hundreds of young children betrays our most basic responsibility to set a good example and provide positive role models.”
Monday, the school board decided to commit to changing the name, sending it to the facility naming committee to figure out what the new name will be.
They also decided to get rid of Columbus Day as a school holiday, replacing it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Tuesday, the migrant community celebrated the decision. The group visited the school for a rally and covered the vandalized school sign.
“He was the first person to put his knee on our neck,” one participant said. “Why should he have a school? So while the renaming is significant, he is one of the many representations of what we have been fighting for the last 400 years against…This should be a start of what is yet to come.”
Members of the migrant community say they look forward to the new name reflecting the original inhabitants of this land.