Slavers, racists… San Francisco cleans up the name of its schools

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San Francisco puts his nose in his past. The San Francisco School Board, the city’s school board, decided on Tuesday January 26 to change the name of 44 schools, which represents a third of the establishments managed by this institution, reports The world this Monday. Exit, therefore, the names of those who owned slaves, who were openly racist, who took part in a genocide or who were oppressors of all kinds. This includes in particular the founders of the current United States, like George Washington (owner of slaves) or Abraham Lincoln.

As the San Francisco Chronicle, this initiative does not come from just anywhere, while some dispute a decision taken in haste. In 2018, the School Board created a committee to study the names given to schools and make changes. Forty-four schools were therefore targeted: the committee decided that it only took one contested act in the personality’s life to bring about the name change. The school board then took up this subject in early 2020.

Since the vote last week by the School Board, controversy has been fierce, especially concerning figures commonly accepted as progressive. Abraham Lincoln, for example, abolished slavery, but he also authorized the execution by hanging of 38 Native Americans sentenced to death for attacking settlers in Minnesota in 1862.

New names will be proposed

Ditto for the Roosevelt Middle School: should this name be maintained for President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), historian and naturalist, or for the father of the New Deal, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945)? It will be neither. Theodore Roosevelt opposed the black vote and “FDR” arbitrarily interned more than 100,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans in camps due to unfounded suspicions of connivance with the Empire of Japan, which had come from Japan. attack the base at Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

“It’s a message for our families, our school children and our community,” says Mark Sanchez, member of the School Board. “It’s not just symbolic. It is a moral message ”, he adds in the San Francisco Chronicle. In some establishments, the name change is widely acclaimed, as at the Junipero-Serra school, named after a colonizer: 80% of the parents of the students are in favor of a change, according to a survey. For opponents, it is the timing that is wrong as schools in San Francisco have been closed since March 2020 due to the pandemic. Families and staff of schools that will change their name have until mid-April to propose new ones.


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