Time to make things right…
On his death in 1744, slaveholder Edward Devotion left money to the town to establish a town school. Although the money was long gone by 1892 when a new school was built, the Town named the school after Edward Devotion in recognition of his legacy.
Extensive renovation of the Edward Devotion School began in 2016, making its reopening an appropriate time to consider changing the name from one that honored an otherwise unremarkable slaveholder to one that will be consistent with 21st century values and the Town’s commitment to racial equity, diversity and inclusion.
In May 2018 , Town Meeting Members voted overwhelmingly to change the name of the Edward Devotion School.
Rename and Restore with Love…
The ultimate aim of restorative justice as usually described as healing the broken relationships between three players: the offender, the victim, and the community. This manner of healing gives the actual victims along with the community, as well as the offenders, the opportunity to take an active part in the justice process.
In the context of race-based restorative justice, the goals are quite similar to that of criminal restorative justice. People of color have been and continue to be harmed by a series of policies and practices that have the intended and unintended consequence of harming members of a particular group.
Racism is harmful in many ways. It means fewer educational, employment, housing and income generating opportunities. It limits one’s access to proper health care and can cause long-term health effects. Whether one is discussing the concept of “weathering” or the epigenetics of racism, the outcomes can be severe, up to and including premature death. Naming and retaining the name of an enslaver over a school is wrong and causes lasting scars. Restorative justice can potentially work if applied consistently and thoughtfully to ameliorate some of the scars caused by such institutional racism.
Beginning a town-wide conversation, inclusive of all views, the School Committee has begun the process of choosing a name more befitting our children, the town and our legacy. The mandate of the Nominations Committee is to discuss the characteristics of a name that reflect the school’s values, in accordance with Town Naming Committee guidelines; review submitted names nominated by students, alumni, educators, parents, and other residents; and select up to 10 names to advance to the next phase of the process.
Learn more about restorative justice.
Learn more about the renaming process.