The Domin 'stink' remains
The Domin 'stink' remains
Earlier this month, the Smithfield Town Council approved a resolution to rename Domin Avenue, a roadway in Georgiaville that was named after Ku Klux Klan Grand Cyclops John Algernon Domin. John Domin purchased the land in 1932 where the KKK held his meetings and cross burnings and spewed its hatred against everyone not like them, and gave his name to a dirt driveway leading from Stillwater Road to his home near Georgiaville Pond. John Domin sold the land for house lots in the 1940s and the Domin Avenue name was retained by the town when it became a public roadway. The Town Council voted unanimously at its meeting on March 5 to rename Domin Avenue to erase this ugly stain from maps of Smithfield. The new name? Domin Avenue. Can you believe that? It is the same.
As the guy who started this controversy last August by bringing to the Town Council's attention the ugly and unpleasant truth that a roadway in the town was named after KKK Grand Cyclops John Algernon Domin, I would like to share my thoughts about the Town Council's solution.
You can cover crap with whitewash, but the crap still will be there and still will stink.
Most residents living on Domin Avenue opposed changing the name because it would cause them some inconvenience, while others living on the road and on nearby roads strongly supported a name change. The council's decision to rename Domin Avenue as Domin Avenue was based on a recommendation from Town Manager Dennis Finlay who said it was not unusual for streets in Smithfield to be named for entire families such as Waterman, Mowry, Winsor, and Whipple. That is true. I can think of others including Farnum, Harris, Rogler, Latham, Hawkins, Smith and Austin. But who were these people? Mr. Finlay failed to say they were people or families who had prominent roles in Smithfield's founding, development and history and, therefore, the naming of the roads for them was appropriate. They had relevance to the town, a fact apparently overlooked or ignored by the council. But the name Domin? The Town Council's action defies logic, common sense and precedence.
Mr. Finlay's research showed there are 702 people nationwide with the surname Domin. How is that relevant to naming a road in Smithfield? I don't believe Mr. Finlay or any council member can name a single positive contribution to Smithfield or to the United States made by any member of the Domin family. It is known that three people named Domin lived in Smithfield - John Algernon Domin, his wife, Elizabeth, and his son, Wallace - and it is known this small branch of the Domin family contributed nothing but hatred, bigotry, racism and worse. It is known that John Domin purchased the land in 1932, that he gave his surname to a dirt driveway on his property leading from Stillwater Road to his home near the pond and that the name was retained when the roadway became town property. These facts are indisputable and can't be erased or changed simply by the Town Council passing a resolution saying the road no longer is named specifically after John Algernon Domin and instead is named for the entire Domin family, which contributed absolutely nothing to Smithfield and which has absolutely no relevance to the town. The Smithfield Historical Society should be outraged as should Smithfield residents with any sense of values.
It apparently did not occur to the Town Council that renaming Domin Avenue to honor the entire Domin family changes nothing. The town still is honoring John Algernon Domin and his legacy of hate because he was a member of the Domin family. The big change is that the Town Council has now made it official. I suppose the Town Council could take care of this minor detail by passing another resolution saying Domin Avenue is renamed for the entire Domin family except for John Algernon Domin.
So, did the Town Council change anything? Did its whitewash job eliminated John Domin's stink from the town? I say no.
Roger L. Schenck