This is a direct quote from Robinson during an on-air broadcast:
“When I was a child growing up in Richmond, Virginia, we were called Negroes. No one I knew knew why we were called that. No one knew the provenance of that word. It had no connection to what we might have been before we were blocked from view by that lethal, opaque space of slavery. And so, we didn’t know anything about ourselves, except we had been called this, but not by ourselves. And it turns out that it’s much like the case of the sardine. There’s no such thing as a sardine as a fish living free in the ocean. It only becomes one when it is captured and put in a can. And we were only called Negroes when we were labeled during slavery as that as a way of severing us from any memory of what we had been. And so we lost our mothers, our fathers, our families, our religions, our languages, our cultures, our memories of what we had been. And so, we thought we had no history before slavery. And this name, this new name, this new label, helped to facilitate that loss of memory. Now, memory is the active agent of all collective social progress. If you can’t remember yourself, you’re suffering from serious debilitation.”
With Robinson’s words in mind, I would also like to request that both the city and county leaders support a name for the canyon which reflects the man and his legacy – not his race. With Christina Sloane and others, I ask that the city and county councils sign a letter to support the USGS application for name change in 2013.