Town, State Jockey on Racialized Waterway Name Change | Vermont News
TOWNSHEND, Vermont (AP) – A town in Vermont is divided over renaming a creek that has an outdated racialized name, although a state agency may ultimately make the decision.
The Vermont Library Board is meeting Thursday to respond to a petition calling for the name change of Negro Brook, which is located in Townshend State Park, the Brattleboro Reformer reported.
Burlington residents first asked for the name to be changed two years ago. One of them, Evan Litwin, said the creek is the only natural feature known to the United States Geological Survey in Vermont that continues to have a name based on breed.
Windham County NAACP Chairman Steffen Gillom supports renaming the creek in honor of Susanna Toby, a black woman who was one of the town’s first settlers.
“Nobody likes it,” Gillom said of the creek’s current name. “We certainly don’t like it. So it made sense to support the change and we thought Susanna Toby’s story was compelling and powerful. “
Toby moved to the city in 1810 and died there in 1855, according to independent Vermont historian Elise Guyette. Her husband, who was a black slave, fought in the War of Independence in place of the son of the man who possessed him.
A Townshend Historical Society researcher told the newspaper the group disagreed with naming the creek after Toby because city records indicated she did not live nearby.
The library board has jurisdiction to change the name of the creek because it sits on state land, the newspaper reported, but a Townshend Select board decision last week could delay any action.
At a meeting on June 8, the city’s board of directors voted to change the name of the creek in honor of Toby, but also to bring the issue to voters next March.
Bruce Post, chairman of the Board of Libraries, told the newspaper he hoped to make a decision on Thursday, but said he was unsure whether the Select Board’s decision to allow voters to vote on the issue would prevent them. to do.
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