Racist, obviously. Well, actually not.
The Willingboro Township Council voted unanimously Tuesday to rescind its controversial decision to rename the John F. Kennedy Center – the town’s former high school – as the Barack Obama Center.
Cheers erupted among the more than 200 people who filled the bleachers and chairs at the JFK Center’s auditorium, where the meeting was held. Many said they had come to protest a name change they viewed as disrespectful of a beloved president.
The uproar wasn’t about President Obama in this predominantly middle-class black community of 31,000, which had voted for the nation’s first black president twice. Many residents said they objected to removing Kennedy’s name from the building.
“I was 5 when Kennedy came to Willingboro Plaza in 1960,” said Christine Getz-Alfinito, who graduated from JFK with the Class of 1973 and still lives in Willingboro, before the meeting. “They built this in ’66, and named it after Kennedy after he was assassinated. He died for this country.”
“I just think it’s wrong,” said Elaine Phillips, Class of 1978, as she joined other alumni at the meeting. “In my heart, I’m always going to be a Gryphon.”
The crowd carried placards and was prepared to present a petition signed by more than 1,200 alumni of the high school, which closed in the 1990s when Willingboro High School was built. The building later reopened as a senior center, a recreational hall, and a multipurpose auditorium and is nearing completion of a $4.9 million renovation.
As the large, diverse crowd watched, the five-member all-Democratic council decided quickly to reverse its Aug. 7 vote. Councilman Chris Walker, who had proposed the name change, said he did it to honor Obama. He said he now would agree to undo that vote.
Councilman Nathaniel Anderson apologized, saying he was unaware of the history of the building and had failed to “think it through” and gather public input before supporting the name change.
Just as Obama voters obviously failed to “think it through” before they voted for the clown.