The Springfield Public School District is seeking public input regarding the Homer Street school name change.
The idea is to name it after former state representative Benjamin Swan.
“He is a giant, a legend and I would say the father of the civil rights movement in Springfield,” said State Representative Bud L. Williams.
A $ 95 million project aims to replace and consolidate Homer Street and DeBerry schools. The new school is expected to open in 2023.
DeBerry is expected to keep his name, which honors Reverend William DeBerry, a Springfield native and a civil rights leader. Williams, however, is hoping that Swan’s name will replace the Homer Street School name.
“We think it’s a fitting honor to have his name engraved on a building where children will see him for generations to come,” said Williams. “There are no words that do justice to what he represents for this community. His work speaks for itself. “
The district pointed out that Swan graduated from old technical high school, held several positions in the Springfield branch of the NAACP, and became the western Massachusetts coordinator of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
“He also organized the Springfield Chapter of the Racial Equality Congress and helped organize and lead a protest that arose out of an incendiary police incident in a living room in Winchester (now Mason) Square. In 1965, Swan paraded with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, ”the statement read.
The district has since released a public poll regarding the name.
“With the exciting promise of a brand new school building for Homer Street School, the school committee is seeking public opinion on its initiative to rename the school in honor of State Representative Benjamin Swan. Please share with us your thoughts on our plans to honor State Representative Benjamin Swan, ”the poll reads.
The survey asks for information about your relationship with the school or city, your opinion, and space for additional comments.
The investigation will be open until Oct. 29, the district said.