Our country has worked hard to overcome many of the sins of our past and we have made amazing amounts of progress towards being an inclusive society.
However, the shadow of our past still remains, and for many the shame is too much to bear.
There is a desire to hide the shame of our community to bury the fact that we once were not perfect. In Moab, we like to forget that we once hosted a Japanese American internment camp, that we fought in bloody conflicts with native tribes, that greed and avarice destroyed the lives of many our residents, and that, at one time, we called a man named William by a nickname that is derogatory.
Why do we choose to remember these terrible things we did? George Santayana wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.” If we forget that we were once cruel, that we once made mistakes could we make them again? While Americans have made great leaps in civility in the past 100 years, we still find ourselves making many of the same mistakes that our ancestors made.
Does the name Negro Bill offend you? If it does then that is a good thing, because it reminds you of the past and the mistakes we’ve made and the ones we could make again. Though it might be an uncomfortable name, it can be a way to empower and to teach us about the better future that we could have.
So let us not erase the past because it offends us, but let us understand and learn from the mistakes of our past and become better people from it.