Leave It To California

Leave It To California

The San Francisco Board of Education decided in a 6-1 vote Tuesday night (January 26th) to remove the names of former Presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson and other prominent figures from public schools in the city. Others whose names will be removed from a total of 44 San Francisco schools in the controversial decision include Paul Revere, “Star Spangled Banner” composer Francis Scott Key, naturalist John Muir, 18th century Spanish priest Junipero Serra, and current Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who was a former mayor of San Francisco. A committee was created in 2018 to lead the renaming process, charged with identifying schools named for people who owned slaves or had connections to slavery, colonization or exploitation, anyone who oppressed women, children, queer or transgender people, anyone connected to human rights or environmental abuses, or anyone who espoused racist or white supremacist beliefs. Washington and Jefferson owned slaves, and the criticisms of Lincoln were related to Native Americans, including construction of the transcontinental railroad, which affected their lands, and his refusal to commute the sentences of 39 Native Americans sentenced to hanging. Feinstein was included because when she was mayor in 1984, she replaced a vandalized Confederate flag that was part of a flag display in front of City Hall. Seeyew Mo, executive director of Families for San Francisco, which has been critical of the renaming effort, called the process “top-down” in which a small group of people made the decisions without consulting experts and the wider school community. He also said, “We would like to have historical experts to provide historical context as we are evaluating people from the past with today’s sensibilities.”

(AP)

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