Middle school naming fight is about our collective story

June 7, 2024

My friend John Rice, an Indigenous First Nations elder and wisdom keeper in Canada, says, “There is no moving forward into the future until the whole truth is told.” As we forge a compromise on the name of our future middle school, let’s keep in mind what this fight has really been about — a struggle to tell the whole story of our town.

The thing about stories is they are large enough to include us all. The naming of our new school has been messy and uncomfortable, as change usually is. But we should take a moment now to celebrate how we are expanding our collective story.

We Concordians are rightly proud of the stories of our town’s revolutionary white pioneers, from the year 1775 forward. Yet their stories are only part of our town’s whole story. The Robbins House tells the story of our town’s African American pioneers who bravely fought for freedom. The Concord Museum recently began telling the story of the Wampanoag and Nipmuc tribes, whose language endures today in our town — Nashoba, Musketaquid, Nashawtuc. Our townspeople of all colors and cultures, past and present, are all part of the collective tapestry of our town story.

We have an exciting opportunity next year to keep expanding our story when we celebrate our nation’s 250-year birthday. Concord could find inspiration from John Rice’s hometown of Orillia, Canada, which holds an annual storytelling festival including music, dance, comedy, and ceremony.

In Concord, as in America, we have many stories of the revolutionary and creative American spirit, as well painful stories of slavery, racism, oppression, and trauma. Whole stories include light and shadow, joy and hardship. Let’s have the courage to tell our whole story! It is the only way to move forward together into a new future. Maybe, just maybe, we in Concord can once again show the nation what is possible.

Kate W. Isaacs

Nut Meadow Crossing