Plymouth museum changing name; deaf advocate placed on leave

Plimouth Plantation

BOSTON (AP) — A living history museum in Massachusetts focused on colonial life on the English settlement at Plymouth is planning to change its name to better reflect the Native Americans that long lived in the region.

Plimoth Plantation, in a Facebook post this week, unveiled a new logo bearing the word “Patuxet,” the Wampanoag name for the area, juxtaposed with “Plimoth,” the one later given to it by English colonists.

The museum, which was founded in 1947 and features colonial reenactors replicating life on the Puritan settlement, said the name to be unveiled later this year will be “inclusive of the Indigenous history that is part of our educational mission.”

It said it had long been planning to announce a new name timed with this year’s commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival on the Mayflower in 1620.

“As our Nation faces a pandemic, an economic crisis, a reckoning with racial injustice and a highly-charged election year, there is no doubt that we have reached an inflection point in our history, one that raises necessary, and at times painful, discussions,” the museum said in part in its statement. “We recognize that the commemoration of 400 years of shared history is complex and we embrace this moment as an opportunity for reflection and learning.”

A look at other developments in Massachusetts on the national reckoning on racism and injustice:

DEAF ADVOCATE CONTROVERSY

Massachusetts’ chief advocate for the deaf has been placed on leave after acknowledging he was a member of a now-suspended college fraternity known for wearing robes resembling those of the Ku Klux Klan and making Nazi-like salutes.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration said Thursday that Steven Florio, the commissioner of the state’s Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, will remain on paid leave from his $120,000 a year job pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

Patricia Ford, the agency’s deputy commissioner, will take over on an interim basis.

Florio recently acknowledged to staff members he was a member of Kappa Gamma Fraternity, which was suspended last month by Gallaudet University, a college in Washington, D.C., for the deaf and hard of hearing, the Boston Globe reported.

Members of the university’s oldest fraternity were recently seen wearing blue robes with pointed hoods that resemble the white ones worn by the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan, the Washington Post reported. A recently surfaced photo from 1988 also shows former frat members performing an apparent Nazi salute, the newspaper said.

Ralph Reiser, a lawyer for Kappa Gamma International, an organization for fraternity alumni, disputed the suggestion that the frat’s ceremonial robes have been used recently, and rejected the notion that the fraternity’s traditional salute was a Nazi one. He also stressed that Florio is not in the controversial salute photo.

Florio, who declined to comment through Reiser, recently told commission staff in an email that he made Nazi-like salutes while wearing KKK-like garb during his time at the college three decades ago, the Globe reported. Florio also said in the message that he disavows his past affiliation with the fraternity.

Florio was the longtime director for the Rhode Island Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing before Baker tapped him for the role in Massachusetts last February.

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BLACK LIVES MATTER FLAG

Police in Marblehead have released images of a man they say is a person of interest in the vandalism of a Black Lives Matter banner that hung outside of a church.

The incident happened on June 28 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in the coastal town near Cape Ann.

The images show the man walking up to banner, crouching over and then walking away.

Police have not said what damage was done to the banner but said it’s been stolen at least twice since 2018.

©The Associated Press 2020

Categories: Massachusetts, News, Regional News