As recent transplants from Cambridge, Mass., after careers in academia, my partner and I have been very impressed with how aware Keene and the surrounding community is to humanitarian values and environmental concerns.

With national and local conversations about eliminating systemic racism and de-celebrating people who directly and indirectly promoted it, current discussions involve whether Franklin Pierce University and University of New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce Law School should be renamed. Historically recognized as a terrible president, Pierce is being realized for his suppression of people of color by protecting slave-owning states and territories. Removing Franklin Pierce’s name from these educational institutions is the socially conscious thing to do and a start to ending white privilege.

In that same vein, it’s time to rename the city of Keene and Keene State College.

Keene and its namesake college honor Sir Benjamin Keene, an officer in the prolific slave trading South Sea Co. Under the Asiento de Negros agreement, the South Sea Co. had exclusive rights to import and sell 5,000 slaves annually to the Spanish colonies in South America and the Caribbean. During the term of this vile contract, 34,000 slaves were abducted and shipped over from Africa with 30,000 surviving and sold.

If the mayor and the City Council are serious about living our progressive values and making our city a welcoming, safe place for everyone, then they need to have the courage to abandon the name Keene. Thus, I challenge our elected officials, community and thought leaders to demand the adoption of the name Daniels for our beloved city, as in Daniels, N.H., after our local civil rights hero, Jonathan Daniels, or Rainbow, N.H., to show our support of people of all colors and orientations. Either of these proposed names better represent the values of our community than Sir Keene, the aristocratic slave monger.


P.O. Box 446