ORANJESTAD- Statia resident Urisha Blake, candidate on the CDA Statia list during the election of March 2023, has started an online petition for a name change for the Governor De Graaff school on the island.
“Johannes de Graaff is remembered for being the governor who first saluted the American flag, a moment of historical significance. However, it is also true that he was a slave owner and played a role in the institution of slavery on our island. His actions led to the pillaging of Sint Eustatius by British Admiral Rodney, and it was our enslaved ancestors who bore the brunt of this suffering”, says Blake as motivation for her petition.
Blake says that in the year 2024, the island must consider the impact of the names which are chosen for public institutions, especially schools where children receive their education. According to Blake, the name of the school plays a significant role in shaping the values and ideals our young ones carry with them as they grow. “We cannot unconsciously teach them to revere a person who took part in the inhumane practice of slavery”.
Blake believes that the name of the only public school should be changed to ensure that it aligns with the principles of equality, justice, and inclusivity that the island holds dear. “It is through such actions that we can strive for a more inclusive and just society for all”.
The petition can be signed here