Blumenthal Urges Geological Survey to Rename Racist Branford Buoys

(Hartford, CT) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued a letter today to the U.S. Geological Survey urging that it rename two offensively named buoys in the Long Island Sound off the coast of Branford. Blumenthal’s letter follows similar concerns expressed by State Senator Ted Kennedy.

“These offensive names – attached to a navigational buoy and rock outcropping – are a disservice to the diverse, tolerant, and welcoming character of our state. They could potentially perpetuate stereotypes and encourage prejudice and bias – particularly because their official designation implies government endorsement,” Blumenthal states in the letter. “I ask that you work with relevant officials there or at the United States Board on Geographic Names to ensure that this name change is accomplished as quickly as possible.”

The full text of the letter follows.

Dear Acting Director Kimball:

I write to request you promptly consider a name change for features in Long Island Sound off the coast of Branford, Connecticut that are currently designated as “Negro Heads Rocks” and “Negro’s Head Buoy.”

These offensive names – attached to a navigational buoy and rock outcropping – are a disservice to the diverse, tolerant, and welcoming character of our state. They could potentially perpetuate stereotypes and encourage prejudice and bias – particularly because their official designation implies government endorsement.   While the buoy and rocks are hardly nationally known landmarks, they now have a real symbolic significance. 

These concerns have been raised persuasively at the state level notably by State Senator Ted Kennedy in a recent letter requesting such action to the state geologist, who is our state’s representative on the State Geographic Names Board. I ask that you work with relevant officials there or at the United States Board on Geographic Names to ensure that this name change is accomplished as quickly as possible.   Such name change would be consistent with the United States Board on Geographic Names policy which prohibits names that imply discrimination or are “derogatory to a particular racial or ethnic group, gender, or religious group”.   I stand ready to offer any necessary assistance or support toward this goal.

Please keep me apprised of any action taken.  Thank you for your prompt attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

Richard Blumenthal

United States Senator

###