Russell Township seeks new namesake after denouncing slave owner

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“This is an opportunity to bring our community together through education, awareness and community spirit.”

Along with rededicating its name, township council also approved creating a community diversity, equity and inclusion advisory committee in order “to better understand and represent residents.”

Last month, Leroux said Russell had been the subject of online scorn because of its namesake. However, there were various reasons not to change the name altogether, including the business owners and institutions who have built their brands on the name.

“And if you change the town name, what happens to all these organizations who’ve built up a reputation for being kindhearted loving people and incredible businesses?” he said. “You’re saying, well, that name is by default still tied to this guy 200 years ago.”

Leroux and his teen son brainstormed a solution for which there’s a precedent.

In 1986, King County in Washington State changed its namesake from slave trader William Rufus DeVane King to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

— With files from Canadian Press

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