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Black Lives Matter: MP backs petition to rename Rhodes Avenue Primary School over links to white supremacist’s family

PUBLISHED: 16:10 12 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:54 12 June 2020

Rhodes Avenue Primary School. Picture: Google

Rhodes Avenue Primary School. Picture: Google

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A campaign to rename Rhodes Avenue Primary School and Rhodes Avenue in Muswell Hill has been boosted the backing of a local MP, while Haringey Council are set to review place, street and building names across the borough.

A campaign to rename Rhodes Avenue Primary School and Rhodes Avenue in Muswell Hill has been boosted the backing of a local MP, while Haringey Council are set to review place, street and building names across the borough.

Ex-students at the primary school launched a petition to remove the name Rhodes after Black Lives Matter protesters pulled down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol last week.

The school was named for Thomas Rhodes, once a landowner in the area and the great-uncle of Cecil Rhodes. Cecil Rhodes is known for his imperialism and white supremacy.

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Alex Wiffin, one of the women who has signed an open letter calling for the name change, told this newspaper: “What we really want to stress is that whatever the link to the family, the fact is that when most people hear the name, they do immediately think about Cecil Rhodes and Rhodesia. Trying to find ways around that is missing the point.”

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Catherine West (Lab, Hornsey and Wood Green) said she backed ditching the Rhodes name. She told this newspaper: “I fully support the campaign to rename Rhodes Avenue, and Rhodes Avenue Primary School in conjunction with the community and the school itself.

“The Black Lives Matter movement has demonstrated how racist and outdated ideologues from a bygone era still exist in our modern society and we should use this time to review and refresh historic place names to better reflect our modern world.”

READ MORE: PETITION URGES WEST HAMPSTEAD PRIMARY SCHOOL TO RECONSIDER SLAVE TRADER NAME

On Friday, Haringey leader Cllr Joseph Ejiofor (Lab, Bruce Grove) said: “A real discussion on the way in which we memorialise historical figures is long-overdue.

“If we are to truly demonstrate our commitment to and solidarity with the aims of the Black Lives Matter movement, we must seriously address these issues. If we were naming roads today, we would never choose Rhodes Avenue, which is named after Thomas Rhodes - Great Uncle to Cecil Rhodes, an imperialist, colonialist, and white supremacist.”

Earlier, Adrian Hall, headteacher at Rhodes Avenue Primary, said in a statement “it was our hope” that the school’s name would be discussed by mayor of London’s commission for diversity in the public realm, which was launched on June 9 to consider the appropriateness of memorials for figures like Cecil Rhodes.

The petition to rename Rhodes Avenue Primary is at change.org/p/rhodes-avenue-school-haringey-rename-rhodes-avenue-school


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