On Nov. 16, the Providence City Council will decide whether a street on College Hill will continue to share the name of a slave trader or if it should instead find a new namesake in two of Providence’s most influential black activists. The decision is clear — Providence should change the name of Magee Street to Bannister Street.
The Bannisters represent some of the best Providence’s history has to offer. Edward Bannister was a gifted painter, and his wife Christiana was perhaps even more savvy — a local businesswoman, she founded Providence’s Home for Aged Colored Women, which lives on to this day as the Bannister Center on Dodge Street. Already, the University has taken steps to honor the Bannisters by renovating the family’s former residence at 93 Benevolent St. Now the opportunity falls to the city, and they should make the same decision.
Providence’s role in the slave trade cannot be erased, and we must continue to acknowledge that history. But by commemorating a man who profited from racism and slavery, we are not making progress. Historic wrongs must be confronted, not ingrained into the built environment to a point where they may go unnoticed by passersby.
We support Stages of Freedom’s initiative to rename a street in honor of the Bannisters, and what better street than Magee?
Editorials are written by The Herald’s 127th Editorial Board: Kate Talerico ’18, Lauren Aratani ’18, Matthew Brownsword ’18 and Rebecca Ellis ’18.