Mission High School. Photo courtesy of miss_millions via Flickr Commons.

These are complex times. Even the question “How are you doing?” is complex. But this is not complex: In a 6-1 vote late Tuesday night, the San Francisco Board of Education decided that it’s okay to name a school after Willie Brown or Philip Burton, but not Abraham Lincoln. 

One day after that seven-hour discussion and vote to defrock Lincoln and 43 other namesakes — including George Washington, Paul Revere, and even “El Dorado” and “The Mission” — parents of public school children received an email from the district with the anodyne and innocuous subject line “Considerations & Preparing for In-Person Learning.”

Tucked away into the third paragraph of the email’s third section was this casual declaration: “it is unlikely that we’ll be able to offer most middle and high school students the opportunity for in-person learning this school year.” 

But hey: How are you doing? 

This was a frustrating moment. Not just because the San Francisco student sitting behind you may be sitting in that chair for a year and a half when all is said and done. If not more. 

And it was not frustrating because Washington or other slave-owning, expansionist founding fathers will be lost in time like tears in rain without naming rights in cities they never heard of and which may not have even existed during their lifetimes.  

No, what’s more frustrating is that the renaming process, which could have been inclusive and illuminating and fostered a discussion about community values and representation — and led to a lot of growth and understanding and consensus — instead became an insular process, beset by ignorance and incompetence.

And yet, our Board of Education chose to ratify each and every finding from the renaming committee — even when historical errors and methodological recklessness was known.

This remarkably flawed process, combined with the relative expediency the district has demonstrated in moving to change some one-third of its school names, stands in stark contrast to the sclerotic nature of nearly every other SFUSD-related matter. 

It’s a hell of a message to send to the parents and students of Remote School 1, Remote School 2, and so on. 

Lincoln cabinet during the first read of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Absent charred wreckage and a black box, the best thing we’ve got to sum up the problems with the school district’s renaming committee is a report from the group Families for San Francisco

Should you inherently trust any group claiming to speak for “the families” — or “the children” or “the people”? No. You absolutely should not. 

You also should proceed with caution with any declarations from this particular organization; its forbear, Parents PAC, was routinely a conduit for big-money independent expenditures from moderate, downtown donors and took its fair share of money from the Police Officers Association. 

So there’s that. But, in this report, they showed their work. Like they teach you to do in school. 

They link directly to the Zoom meetings of the renaming committee, and to its spreadsheet, where the Wikipedia entries justifying the committee’s actions are cited. 

So we don’t need to take their word for it. We can view the source material. And we can do our own subsequent research. So, regardless of the political bent of Families for San Francisco, we can know that: 

  • While reading out a Wikipedia entry on the beliefs of 19th-century poet and diplomat James Russell Lowell, a committee member stated that “he did not want Black people to vote.” In point of fact, a scholarly biography of the high school’s namesake states that the he “unequivocally advocated giving the ballot to the recently freed slaves.” 
  • The citation provided to justify the striking of Paul Revere’s name from a K-8 school was a Top-10 list from the History Channel website. That article notes Revere was court-martialed for alleged cowardice and insubordination following the disastrous “Penobscot Expedition” against the British in 1779. During a back-and-forth in a renaming committee meeting, however, this ignominious Revolutionary War military defeat was, by some alchemy, tied to the conquest of the Penobscot Indians, which was partially attributed to Revere. This is a telephone game-like invention of fact, and never happened. In reality, per the article from the History Channel website (“which is pretty credible,” per the committee), Revere went back to silversmithing after the war, and sired 16 children. 
  • Businessman James Lick was blackballed because committee members objected to his funding of the odious “Early Days” sculpture, depicting a prostrate Indian at the feet of white men. This monument was recently removed from Civic Center, and the committee cited a Curbed article in its discussion of Lick, who was stricken because of his connection with this artwork. Nobody appears to have closely read that article, however, which clearly notes that Lick underwrote the sculpture “posthumously,” via his estate. He died 18 years prior to its completion. 

These are embarrassing, avoidable, and credibility-destroying errors. That’s a shame, because many of the names suggested by the committee are out-and-out no-brainers; if engaged earnestly, most San Franciscans could probably be convinced to accept a lot of these changes.

But that didn’t happen, and this is what you get when you perfunctorily cut-and-paste material from sources that would not be acceptable for a junior high school oral report, and then misstate and misinterpret even that paltry material. 

This could have been prevented by the hiring of a 20-year-old intern fact-checker, of the sort that has saved many prestigious magazine writers from ruin. Or, perhaps, by consulting a historian who knows what he or she is talking about. 

Not only did that not happen, but committee chair Jeremiah Jeffries ridiculed the notion of consulting a historian:

What would be the point? History is written and documented pretty well across the board. And so, we don’t need to belabor history in that regard. We’re not debating that. There’s no point in debating history in that regard. Either it happened or it didn’t, as historians have referenced in their own histories. So, I don’t think there’s a discussion about that. And so, based on our criteria, it’s a very straightforward conversation. And so, no need to bring historians forward to say – they either pontificate and list a bunch of reasons why, or [say] they had great qualities. Neither are necessary in this discussion.

Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware.

On the day after the Board of Education’s vote, your humble narrator called up six historians — which, apparently, is six more than the renaming committee called up. 

“Yes, there should have been historians involved,” said Jim Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association, and a former University of Chicago professor. “Whenever decisions are made, there should be people who can provide context and facts. We’ve learned this with covid.” 

Cassandra Good, a professor of history at Marymount University in Arlington, Va., adds, “If your local government was making a policy decision on science or medicine, they’d ask scientists or doctors.” Alexis Coe, the author of the George Washington biography You Never Forget Your First, notes that “you wouldn’t go to the guy behind the bodega when you need a medical opinion.” 

“The decision not to include historians in the process seems misguided — and assumes a political agenda that is not necessarily fair,” says Professor Nicole Maurantonio at the University of Richmond, in Virginia. “To ignore historians suggests that the actors involved are intent on privileging a version of the past that might fit a particular set of interests that might or might not align with history.”

But not only were historians shut out of the process, so was critical discussion. 

The listed reasons for dropping Abraham Lincoln include the 1862 Pacific Railway Act and Homestead Act, which led to cavalcades of settlers heading west and bloodily wrenching land from its native inhabitants. He is also faulted for authorizing the hanging of 38 Sioux warriors in Minnesota following the six-week Dakota Uprising in 1862 — the largest mass execution in American history. 

All of these things happened. “History is written and documented pretty well across the board,” as Jeffries said.

But he’s wrong when he said, “There’s no point in debating history…”

Because history is not physics; there are absolutes, but there are also interpretations.

So, while Lincoln authorized the largest execution in American history, he also authorized the largest mass-clemency in American history, sparing 265 men who had been sentenced to death. He personally reviewed these cases despite being mired in the darkest days of the Civil War, and granted clemency at no small political cost.

The Republican-controlled Senate, in fact, had passed a resolution pressing Lincoln to carry out the hundreds of planned executions — with the alternative being mass vigilante killings. This threat of a rampaging and lawless white mob was made on the Senate floor — not by a rampaging and lawless white mob but by Sen. Morton Wilkinson, a Minnesota Republican and Lincoln’s ostensible ally. 

The politically expedient move for Lincoln, and the desired outcome among members of his own Republican Party overseeing the country as it fought the war that ended slavery, would have been to not intervene and allow all the prisoners to be executed. 

None of this is to say Lincoln is a hero for allowing only 38 men to be hanged or that this moment in history is trivial and unimportant. Rather, it’s the opposite: America would do well to view its historical figures — and school namesakes — as flawed humans, rather than as secular saints. We should be having more discussions, not fewer. 

In fact, the 2018 resolution creating the renaming committee stated that it was “necessary to engage the larger San Francisco community in a sustained discussion regarding public school names.” 

That, markedly, did not happen. And the renaming committee’s internal discussion on whether to do away with Lincoln, incidentally, took all of five seconds

Gen. William T. Sherman (left), Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, President Abraham Lincoln and Rear Adm. David Porter.

When your humble narrator graduated with a degree in history, nobody heard the announcer mention the title of his thesis. They were too busy laughing at the thesis title of the guy who went just before: Hitler and Stalin: Two Very Bad Men.

Most history is more subtle than this. But the renaming committee’s criteria was not. It did not factor in the totality of a person’s life and achievements. Instead, it merely sought a single disqualifying factor, and that was that. 

“If you can only name schools after people who were perfect, you will have a lot of unnamed schools,” says Eric Foner, a Columbia professor and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and Slavery. “Lincoln is a difficult character to assess. His greatness, in my view, is his ability to grow. He held very different views at the end of his life than earlier.”

Leon Litwack, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus and the Pulitzer-winning author of Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery, is blunter.

“This is taking things too far,” he says. “Lincoln is one of our great presidents. Maybe the greatest. I am very supportive of the efforts to remove the names of slave-holders. I never thought about the possibility this could include people like Lincoln.”

But perhaps Lincoln — or many of the 43 other vanquished names — isn’t the ultimate target here. 

“Lincoln is a symbol of America,” says Foner. “He’s not the same as, say, Jubal Early, a Confederate general. He’s one of the key symbols of America. One of the reasons people may find it appealing to take Lincoln’s name down is, if you have a powerful critique of America, you’re saying something about society more than just Lincoln.”

America is a place that deserves all the powerful critiques, but whatever critique San Francisco has just made, it wasn’t a coherent one.

It was clumsy and heavy-handed. It provided so much red meat for the bad-faith elements of American culture most deserving of a powerful critique.

And, as Coe points out, it is a hollow gesture if not followed up by deep and honest discussions, outreach, and, perhaps most importantly, curriculum changes. 

“We need to talk about people who are historically significant in less celebratory ways and stop thinking about complications as a liability,” she says. “We’re being confronted with all-or-nothing choices when it comes to our founding history, monuments, or school names. That’s not how history works, or our lives work, or how anything works.”

Except that’s kind of how it works here in San Francisco. Or, maybe, doesn’t work.

SUPPORT MISSION LOCAL

Joe Eskenazi

Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. “Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior...

Join the Conversation

173 Comments

    1. That’s not our tradition in SF, and NY is a much larger city with many more schools. Screw them and their numbers. The real issue here is whether there should be room for debate in the renaming of SF’s schools, and the article pointed out very well that there is, and that no debate was held.

      1. Exactly, my kid is a junior at SoTA and he wondered why the children enrolled in the schools in question were not involved in the debate at all.

      2. this is a disgusting development..It smacks of a political agenda, their way or the highway…I don’t remember seeing ANY forums, ANY statements of public input, and neither have many of the Alumni Associations..In this climate, they are bound and determined to get their left wing agenda across, and the most disgusting thing is none of them went to schools here, aren’t from here, but kept out the people who did go, did grow up and still live here…

        1. It’s mostly just profoundly stupid. Too much money in the hands of people who want to play “woke,” but don’t know about anything except making money and coddling there children –and only their children. Yes, I do have a PhD in U.S. history. Yes, I was educated in CA schools from Kindergarten to PhD. Yes, I am a scholar of Indigenous North America, and I am an Indigenous American.

        2. We need an organized effort to have people research the personal histories of each school board member who voted for this, to find every place they ever worked, all relationships they ever had, and all statements they ever made in writing, to uncover their own unwoke and politically incorrect associations. Once found, it should be published and then the individual member should be cancelled. Only when the mob realizes that the other mobsters will eventually turn on them will people stop the cancellation culture.

          1. It’s called a left-wing agenda because it was put together by a group of radical left-wingers. What’s next? Rename all the streets named after the same people and others?

        3. sheesh ! ” left wing agenda ” ! really ? it is just stupid political correctness carried to its extreme ….why the hell would you call it that ?

          1. Why? You think even one, just ONE of these advocate hacks masquerading as a supposedly intellectually honest board member identifies politically as anything other than a “progressive”? You honestly believe Independent, Centrist-types are pushing this politically correct non-sense?

            Read the book “Darkness at Noon” where the author describes how such purity tests worked during his days as a Communist. This revisionist history leads to only one b thing – creating a society of liars.

      3. Gabrielle argues that giving the schools numbers because “That’s not our tradition in SF”, and she is right. Our SF tradition throughout history has been a series of back room decisions made outside of the public eye by – as this decision was made.

        Thank you for this article as it gives clear factual examples of the flawed process with no oversight or due diligence. The illogical choices made here show the ignorance of the people who are supposed to be making decision about our children’s education, but clearly can’t even take the time to educate themselves. And they can’t seem to muster the ability to have a healthy debate about the decision – a key ingredient to a well rounded education, teaching our children how to make decisions vs just telling them what we think they should believe to be the truth.

        I too think the numbering system should be adopted, and as others point out, names are often later attached to the NY schools. But these names can be duplicated because the school official name is the number – such as PS-13 Roberto Clemente in Brooklyn and the (now closed) IS 195 Roberto Clemente in West Harlem.

        Another idea that has merit is naming them after the location or region in the city where the school resides. Unfortunately names like Mission are on the banned list because of the history of the California Mission system.

        In the end, any name can be controversial. I notice that not being renamed is Malcolm X school – even though he was a convicted criminal in his youth. This is often overlooked because he grew and changed as he got older. He did, but even to the day he was killed he still advocated for racial segregation and violence against other races – ideas that would cause the removal of others on this list.

        James Lick is removed because of a linkage to a sculpture created 18 years after his death. Key is removed because his wife inherited a few slaves so he became a slave-owner – even though he later freed the slaves. Feinstein is removed because she called for due process to remove a confederate flag (that took 2 days) instead if bowing down to the protest. And she is blamed for the delay even though the removal of the flag required a decision by the Board of Supervisors who had jurisdiction, not the mayor. And yet Moscone’s name stays even though the confederate flag flew during his term as Mayor AND he had strong direct financial ties to Jim Jones (yes, that Jim Jones) who basically got Moscone elected.

        This name removal process has been flawed, biased, and poorly executed from the very beginning. And the Board should be spending their time right now addressing the needs of the children. Any discussions on renaming could wait until after the children are back in school.

        1. Meanwhile, our classrooms are overcrowded, most schools have limited resources for sped, ELL, and students at risk. Schools can’t afford daily PE or art teachers but the committee and board of Ed wants to throw almost 1/2 million renaming schools. We need total transparency in all decision-making such as this but I understand why they didn’t want it- and they know it too.

        2. My local district is so smart to simply name schools after GEOGRAPHY or in some cases native wildlife. Frankly that wouldn’t have been a bad call by SFUnified – though it also would be about the lowest priority during a pandemic.

      4. Ms. Lopez,
        You really need to learn some manners and how to properly present yourself to the public. You are much more of a detriment than any name of any school in our beloved San Francisco. Also, you really should learn U.S.history before you take issue with it.

    2. Even in NYC, as of several decades ago, the schools have names in addition to numbers. The only one I can cite with accuracy was the one in which I attended for second, third, and fourth grades: P. S. 64 in the Bronx. The number was retained, as they all have, and the name added was that of Pura Belpre, a poet from Puerto Rico. The school has since closed.

      A walk through any neighborhood in NYC will show that the names are prominently displayed, along with the original numbers.

    3. Most of the schools also have a name. The high school system is mostly named based. I actually don’t know the number of the high school I went to.

    4. NYC elementary and middle schools also have names after their number. NYC secondary schools or HSs are named, not numbered.

    5. It’s not as simple as that in NYC, but could be since SF isn’t as large and won’t be integrating boroughs that had separate school districts. And, apparently, the numbered schools also have names–usually after educators or former staff.

    6. I always like the idea of using the names of local wildlife, with such a variety of plants and animals there would be plenty of names to choose from. It could form the basis for stimulating awareness of nature, not a bad thing unto itself and way better than more political posturing that is probably less than productive.
      Has the local educational leadership noticed how all the “Tech Titans” in the region insist they can’t find enough locally educated people and demand the importation of a seemingly endless stream of H1-B visas, mostly from Asia? This has been the case since Mr. Gates testified before the Congress 25 years ago.

  1. Thank you Joe I loved this article. The school Board did not listen to historians because they are way too busy not listening to scientists telling them that it is now safe to reopen schools with the due cautionary measures in place. And of course, being so busy not listening they cannot possibly be expected to see that they are shepherding a generations of young San Franciscans into isolation, depression and disengagement from learning.

  2. The whole idea is insane. Thank you for being a voice of reason. Unfortunately, SF has no common sense. It just has diarrhea of the brain. Uncontrollable misinformation and nonsense.

    1. Doesn’t look like a San Francisco-open minded and humanitarian landscape … Moreover. It’s impossible to imagine more insulting and provocative violently ignorant chauvinistic idea , speaking of flat primitive and speculative movement we are calling Canceled Culture…instead of widening minds and inviting people to plurality in their visions, deep rooted wisdom of enlightenment and tolerance etc we are moving forward to primitive denialism, limitations of democratic process in its colorful objectivity and real historical values… Unimaginable. UnAmerican .Un Californian. Unrecognizable.

      1. How can you say such horrible things about the progressives in charge? Next they’ll be calling you a racist./ sarc

  3. Thank You so much for this clear analysis of a rushed, absurd and ridiculous process.
    Thanks for talking to the historians. Again, San Francisco rushes in where angels fear to tred.

  4. You are absolutely right. It’s been a completely botched, anti-education process with predictable messy, embarrassing results. Can’t wait to hear the flawless people recommended for the new school names.

  5. Good lord, this very flawed process from the Board of EDUCATION! Sadly it feels more like a Soviet styled purge at a time when all time and money should be focused on getting children safely back in school.

  6. They can’t change the truth and they can’t erase it, so they bury it under an avalanche of lies to make everyone squander all their energy trying to sort out fact from fiction.

  7. Excuse me Joe, but just to clarify the “clumsy heavy-handed” ness: the problem is that historians [I’ll roll the dice: these are mostly White men] weren’t part of the dialogue? Not at the same table with offended peoples of color and colonized peoples in this movement to disassemble white supremacy? Or is the problem just about Lincoln who, absent historian analysis, didn’t get to defend himself? I agree that almost everything deserves a conversation; but to me, as far as honoring historical figures, there are some acts, like the hanging of 38 Native men, that is a deal-breaker.

    1. Actually Patricia, if you read the article, the problem isn’t that historians weren’t part of the dialog; the problem is that the dialog was totally devoid of context and, in my cases, facts. A consulting historian could have helped, but competence could have as well.

    2. “Not at the same table with offended peoples of color and colonized peoples in this movement to disassemble white supremacy? ”
      And when the schools are renamed, will the offence be gone? Will white supremacy be disassembled?

    3. to suggest that the gender and race of people who have dedicated their lives to understanding the full historical context of these events and figures would play a part in their analysis is disingenuous at best. you’re either informed on the context or you’re not informed on the context and the people who made this call were not. they would have done well to invite other, more knowledgeable perspectives to the table because clearly being offended is not enough

    4. I am a Moldovan American and have lived a long life. I heard only stories of my father, a cultural professor of languages, because he was dragged away and killed in the night before I was born. The people who ruled my land and dictated to us how to live, erased our cultural traditions even our alphabet, made us hate each other, spoke as you do now. I fear people like you. I fear my new home is looking like my old one more each day.

    5. I’m sorry but this is nonsense. Any serious historian (like the ones Mr. Eskenazi spoke with) is perfectly happy to engage critically with the subjects of their study. That, after all, is the job. The field of American history is incredibly diverse. There are fantastic scholars of all ages, races, genders, orientations, and ideologies who could have been consulted as part of this process. None of them were. Why not?

    6. One thing that I learned in public school was to take what someone said on its substantive merits and to not prejudice my interpretation based on my presuppositions based on their demographics.

      I’ve also learned after years up close and personal that oftentimes, the more performative someone is about their identity politics, often times that indicates that there is something else going on, similar to how the most homophobic Republicans are usually caught in men’s rooms or with meth soaked rent boys.

  8. Great article. Thanks for doing actual research on the topic. Typical San Francisco response … after all it’s a lot easier for middle and upper class woke folks to change the names of a bunch of schools than to wrestle in a meaningful way with the long-festering and unaddressed issue of black flight from the city or the shameful Third World living conditions in Sunnydale, Hunter’s View, Oakdale and other SF housing projects. Do black residents want Lincoln’s name scrubbed from the school district? Maybe they should ask a couple … if they can find any.

  9. Perhaps it would be better not to name schools after historical figures. They are always open to controversy. And anyway, why should we thus ‘worship’ anyone? Ideally, it’s the power of The People that should run the nation. So, maybe it would be good to name schools after mountains. Particularly now that the world is in danger of wrecking the climate, it might be especially appropriate to honor a mountain by using its name for a school. Then the students might be focused on learning about the mountain and then other mountains, so thus be motivated to protect the environment, all its inhabitants with love and respect. It’s an idea worth thinking about, isn’t it? It would at least be free of whether the name is politically ‘right’ or not.

  10. Great work Joe. I especially like the line “America would do well to view its historical figures — and school namesakes — as flawed humans rather than secular saints. We should be having more discussions, not fewer. ”.

    This was a “learning opportunity “ that the school board obviously isn’t grasping. The irony would be funny if it wasn’t so sad and disturbing that this board makes decisions for SF children’s education.

  11. What a bunch of buffoons. Deplorable example of poor judgment and shoddy research for the kids whose education they have so much control over. Pathetic.

  12. Comment #1 — All the School Board members up for election were re-elected; this, after this controversy was public. (sigh)

    Comment #2 – Phil Burton is a drunk (reformed?) and a rage-a-holic; and Willie Brown (I luv ya) is a carney. Some on the board probably owe their tenure to one or both of these men. So curious why they remain, but … not really,

    Comment #3 – Forget numbers (PS 43, etc). If the annulled names don’t express “San Francisco values”, perhaps schools should be named after those values, and others. So, “Hope High School”? “Inclusion Elementary”? “Diversity JHS”? And there are plenty of other values which one would hope young people might gain familiarity with: like Honesty, Patience, Trust, Forgiveness, Acceptance, Courage, Forbearance, Respectfulness, Compassion, Empathy, Humility, Repentance, Willingness, Accountability, Service, Renunciation, Recognition, Resolution, Joy, Gratitude, Wisdom, Effort, Mindfulness, and Generosity… lets have fun listing several dozen other values or principles with which to name inanimate objects. It could be a learning experience for all of SF.

    Comment #4 – does seem like a cheap shot, BOE.
    Is it too much to ask to do your homework!

    1. Peter Turner,

      To argue that Dianne Feinstein Elementary should be renamed because of accusations regarding how she conducted herself as Mayor during the “Confederate Flag Fiasco” is wrong. The story has been proven a canard. From Snopes’ analysis of the whole affair:

      “Both @steckel’s Twitter meme and “The People for Bernie Sanders” neglected to mention a crucial fact: that it was Feinstein who finally ordered the Confederate battle flag not be replaced after 16 April 1984. And only 11 days later, she announced that it would be replaced with a flag honoring Union soldiers from California. It is misleading and disingenuous to omit those facts from any content examining Feinstein’s role in the 1984 Confederate flag controversy.”

      You are exhibiting exactly the same lazy thinking and rush-to-judgement that, unfortunately, our current BOE indulges in.

    2. During this interview, former Mayor Willie Brown briefly discusses first meeting Diane Feinstein, long before she was a political figure. It provides meaningful insight vs the careless, I would even say reckless, determination of our BoE.

      Listen at 12:25

  13. Thank you, Joe – this has to be the most informative and best written article I’ve seen on this issue.

    1. Agree. The best article I have read on this topic. You can only shake your head at this buffoonery. And these people are in charge of public education. Even London Breed has come out against this. Sign the petition at Change.org.

  14. Dont make things even weirder in our present time by chan gu ing Mission High Schools name. It just a name that’s had tradition for 125 years. If you want to remove a mural that may be offensive but not our schools name. This is ridiculous to even be considering. The name Mission represents the Mission. Leave it alone.

  15. Joe, another great job.
    Since the public was not allowed to speak, or observe the process, perhaps you should publish the names of these mental giants that made these decisions on our behalf. Since history is so precious to them I believe their names should also be etched in San Francisco history.

  16. You cannot fight ignorance, with ignorance.

    Board members, if you’re reading: please, please educate yourselves, if only as an example to the students.

    When I see you using such deeply compromised input to make a decision this publicly charged, it is hard for me to imagine you being any more rigorous or knowledgeable in deciding about curriculums, school selection and more.

    The skill of empathizing with how people feel on the individual level, compassionately, is very different from the skills that produce healthy outcomes at the scale of tens of thousands of students.

    As a progressive, and someone who cares so deeply about evolving this country and this city to acknowledge and heal all of the trauma and injustice in our collective history, when I look at this spreadsheet I feel sad, frustrated … and, yet again, powerless.

    Board President Gabriela López
    Board Vice President Alison M. Collins
    Commissioner Matt Alexander
    Commissioner Kevine Boggess
    Commissioner Jenny Lam
    Commissioner Faauuga Moliga
    Commissioner Mark Sanchez

  17. It seems like you could benefit from having empathy for Indigenous children who probably don’t want to a school named after a president who tortured their ancestors.

    Just because a white historian says “It’s complicated!” that’s whose voice you prioritize? Maybe if you’d done your research you’d have a very, very different take.

    https://indiancountrytoday.com/archive/watch-dakota-38-documentary-remember-those-lost-150-years-ago-33JCNM_byUacP6Z2Sy3WFw

    And a little more empathy.

    1. I don’t have as much problem with renaming the schools as I do that the process was flawed and they used junk history. At least work from source of substantial data, there are historians of color and indigenous scholars that could be consulted, and the community could have a say in re-naming.

  18. Perfectly stated. We need a slate of school board candidates to replace the current board and you should be one.

  19. First, thanks for the great article.
    Second, this pisses me off!
    I raised two kids in the public school system in SF and have many friends who did as well. I feel like we were left out of the conversation here. We are a diverse and educated bunch and would have liked to contribute our thoughts – but as usual, the SFUSD continues to operate without much input from the community. I get the argument from an intellectual perspective, but to rename Mission High? Maybe ask some of the remaining descendants of the Native Inhabitants about that? And as for Lowell – seems like more fact-checking should have been done. Or, why not ask the Lowell kids to do it? They’re running the school anyway ; )
    And seriously – the board is going to name a school after Willie Brown … omg. No. Is there any recourse?

    1. From SF Chronicle: “School board member Kevine Boggess was the lone no vote, saying that while he didn’t agree with all the criteria and recommendations, his vote was largely based on his opposition to naming schools after elected officials, a rule he wanted included as part of the renaming process.”

  20. My favorite thing: much of the evidence being drawn from Wikipedia. Isn’t there a district policy that students not use Wikipedia for research?

  21. oh sugar joe. just when i thot you were a liberal stooge for boudin, you write a hilarious and accurate article. seriously: they were too busy laughing at the thesis title of the guy who went just before: Hitler and Stalin: Two Very Bad Men. i’m still giggling.

    well done sir. and thanks for your work.

  22. The board of education will not like this education you have shown to the readers. Great article Joe.

  23. I wonder if any of the board members who voted for this time and money wasting gesture have any “disqualifying events” in their own histories? Any mean-tweets? Insensitive comments towards a particular race? Political pay-to-play party tricks? Pornographic peccadilloes? If they’re all in the clear we should just name the schools after them.

    Of course they’ll be able to deny any wrongdoing as they cherry pick, ignore, or simply rewrite the history of long-dead figures while they step on the backs of our children in order to earn whatever political points they seem to think they’ll be gaining with this ill-timed stunt.

    Nearly every private and parochial school in SF has been able to figure out how to conduct safe, in-person learning in some form, while SFUSD board members sit in their high chairs with their thumbs up their butts, feeding us this distraction.

    This is why people love to hate on San Francisco. What an embarrassment.

  24. The process may be bad but it’s high time SF recognize the original inhabitants and others who built this city, with sweat and blood and not enough appreciation. Think of how many schools and places are named after those people. Not many.

  25. In my experience, middle and high schools in SFUSD do not allow students to use Wikipedia as a primary source. Just saying.

    How much PPE could be purchased for the cost of changing these names?

    The BOE has terrible timing. This discussion may have been more welcome by a broader community had it not been at the expense of student learning and success.

    Changing the names of school communities while pandemic fatigued and affected students and families are already so isolated from them is simply cruel and traumatic.

  26. Great article. In addition to the lack of academic rigor and appropriate debate, this will cost several $million at a time when our schools face serious budget shortfalls.
    The SFUSD Board priorities are stupendously misplaced.
    P.S. Thank you London Breed for your thoughtful voice on this issue.

  27. Totally agree. Talk about misguided sheep, desperate to prove their social awareness, yet only proving their failure to analyze factual research.

  28. The SFUSD should be sued to stop the more egregious name changes, like Lowell, Lincoln, Washington, or removing the mural at Mission High.

  29. Thank you Joe for this excellent and well laid out piece, and for taking the time that the committee did not. I think you hit all the salient nails on their heads and the box looks perfect.

  30. This is an excellent article on many levels. Stimulating conversation is what the board claimed it wished to do when the process started one year ago….well, finally it has. A bit of missing and incorrect information. The one “no” vote was cast by Kevine Boggess, who just took office. His position is that he does not want any school named for living people. So the vote was really 7-0 to change the names. Second, the subject was debated a bit over one hour. Visit the meeting’s video and you will see visible disdain by the members of any public opinion voiced in opposition. Third, this entire process started by Matt Haney using name changing as part of his political advancement. His colleague on this was Shamman Walton. Fourth, changing school names in various other school districts in northern CA (Sacramento, Berkeley and Marin) public cost estimates vary from 150-300,000 per school site, not the $10K the SF state claim (again, look at the video and see how the district’s number was derived.) And finally, the renaming committee used the same criteria as do other discriminatory organizations….one bad deed noted by one member disqualifies the person. Oh, unless he was Malcom X. That debate was five minutes because they accepted “the totality of his contribution” but did not use the same standard for anyone else. Certainly, the school naming process should occur, but not in the manner done by the Board. Their operation is similar to book-burning….if you don’t like the history, erase any historical memory. The adage, never again, comes to mind.

  31. Forest Gump had it correct, when he said: STUPID IS, WHAT STUPID DOES

    The more dumb the population becomes, the easier it is to control the population.

  32. I am disappointed to see this article in “Mission Local” and all the reactionary responses. Have you walked down Mission Street? Do you know that we all grace unceded Ohlone land? Over 400 students organized in August to rename Balboa High School? They are reclaiming their history. The Missions that Junipero Serra established all throughout California served as military garrisons to colonize Indigenous people and take their lands. Their descendants continue to fight for their land and their sovereignty. As a parent at Junipero Serra Elementary School, I am in favor of the name change. This is a disgrace. The impetus for renaming the schools dates back to the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville and was bolstered by the outpour of support of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery last summer. We need to reassess our complicity in systematic racism. There is a parallel history of oppression and resistance by Black, Indigenous, People of Color which many of you do not seem to be aware of or nor are you expert historians in. Your privilege and blindness are showing. Do “progressive” people in the Mission really believe that Black and Brown Lives Matter, when they put their signs up in the window? Then look in the mirror and listen to what Black and Brown people are saying. The names of 44 schools in San Francisco are problematic.

    1. The problem is not the renaming of the schools, it’s the manner in which it was rushed through with little public input using faulty justifications for some of the name changes, an ironically racist double standard to decide which names get to stay and which ones gotta go, during a time of crisis when children are already disconnected and isolated from their school communities.

      Yes, some of the school names need to change. Let’s have the conversations and include all affected parties in the debates, including the children and families and alumni and yes, a few historians for perspective. I don’t trust these lame-brained school board members to know the difference between a vegetable and ketchup at this point, let alone conduct a serious and honest debate over school names.

      Incidentally, should we also rename Mission St. and the Mission District to something less offensive? Or do the people who live there perhaps take some pride and rightful ownership of that label despite the troubled origins?

      1. I hear you, Sven. I get it. I am just saddened by this moment. This should be the beginning of the conversation. I have been attending the Name Advisory Committee Meetings, since I got wind of it in August of last year. There are flaws in the process, yes, but the people on the committee are not idiots, they are educators and community members. They volunteered their time to have challenging discussions. I learned a lot from their conversations. The angry backlash is just horrendous. I got into it too, with my first comment above. I was angry. People are just talking past one another and not hearing one another. How can we talk? How can we reconcile differences on Zoom, through the pandemic?

        I don’t know what to do, but whatever this ugliness is, is not it. I have a lot of respect for Jeremiah Jeffries. People may quote him out of context, but in my view he was diligent and fair. He spoke truth to power in ways that I appreciated.

        I think the problem is that the conclusions are conflated. They had a list of criteria. Does this school meet the criteria? Yes or no. That is not the same as, should we change the name? Yes or no. Meeting the criteria just means that there is a discussion or many discussions that need to be had. And many of them need to be had before people can decide whether or not to change the name. The debates do have to be more rigorous than the first pass. Right now, the first pass is serving as the only pass. It seems like a done deal. I don’t know if it is or not.

    2. Okay, I completely agree with you re: Serra. But I am at a loss to imagine children at Clarendon feeling oppressed by that name?

      1. I hear you, Sven. I get it. I am just saddened by this moment. This should be the beginning of the conversation. I have been attending the Name Advisory Committee Meetings, since I got wind of it in August of last year. There are flaws in the process, yes, but the people on the committee are not idiots, they are educators and community members. They volunteered their time to have challenging discussions. I learned a lot from their conversations. The angry backlash is just horrendous. I got into it too, with my first comment above. I was angry. People are just talking past one another and not hearing one another. How can we talk? How can we reconcile differences on Zoom, through the pandemic?

        I don’t know what to do, but whatever this ugliness is, is not it. I have a lot of respect for Jeremiah Jeffries. People may quote him out of context, but in my view he was diligent and fair. He spoke truth to power in ways that I appreciated.

        I think the problem is that the conclusions are conflated. They had a list of criteria. Does this school meet the criteria? Yes or no. That is not the same as, should we change the name? Yes or no. Meeting the criteria just means that there is a discussion or many discussions that need to be had. And many of them need to be had before people can decide whether or not to change the name. The debates do have to be more rigorous than the first pass. Right now, the first pass is serving as the only pass. It seems like a done deal. I don’t know if it is or not.

        1. I feel mixed about Abraham Lincoln. I know that he did not free all the slaves, only those in the states that were in conflict with the Union. A native friend of mine invited me to watch this movie called the “Dakota 38”. You can find the documentary for free on Youtube: https://youtu.be/1pX6FBSUyQI What does it mean that is the largest massacre in American History? How do you read it in the context of broken treaties, displacement, genocide, boarding schools and so forth? I feel like the name is just the mask. I appreciate the renaming process for calling in to question everything that Americans take for granted.

      2. Hi Sar. I’m sorry. I replied to Sven in the wrong thread. Personally, I think Clarendon is a bit of a stretch.

    3. The city of San Francisco exists where it does because it was the site of a Spanish mission. It burst into prominence because of a good rush that displaced native people. To pretend that this history doesn’t exist is lunacy. In doing so, you have more in common with Stalin and Hitler and others who remake history to their own liking and erase things that aren’t to their liking, as is happening now in China. We can acknowledge flaws without erasing history and any honest assessment of US history has to conclude that this country is a beacon of freedom despite it’s many flaws.

      You speak of the problems of systemic racism and injustice that are part of the American heritage. Yet you say nothing of the principles of freedom of speech and equality that enable you and others to voice a critical opinion.

      Lastly, you say nothing of the widespread warfare and rape and slavery that existed in this land prior to colonization. If this is taken into account, who will any of the schools be named after? History is complex and not just for white history writers, good and bad can be found in every person and in every time. People will probably condemn you in 50 years for some as yet less understood deficiency in your thinking and writing.

      The way forward is to acknowledge faults and learn from truth and history but not to dismiss everything that happened prior to 1970 because public opinion changes over time.

  33. All San Franciscans should join (membership is free) Families for San Francisco: https://familiesforsanfrancisco.com/
    We need to organize a ballot measure to ensure that all of the original names are preserved and to recall, or at a minimum vote out in the next school board election, the members of the Board of Education who supported this. As a native San Franciscan, a San Francisco taxpayer and resident, a parent of two San Francisco children, and a black woman, I strongly OPPOSE changing these names and purging, whitewashing, and erasing history.

    1. Thank you for posting this organization! Totally there.

      Wish more people knew about your 2020 endorsements, since I feel this city’s electorate lacks heavily in knowledge about the BOE. We just end up electing political climbers, not people who actually care about children and families.

      1. Thanks Sar for the link to Families for San Francisco.

        While not a member, I did vote for the candidates the group endorsed. What concerns me is that even the 2 elected candidates the group endorsed voted in favor of the renaming en-mass.

        I agree with your comments. I tried to listen and comment during the Jan 26 meeting, but unfortunately I also work and could not sit through the 5 hours of public comments to wait for my turn to speak.

        This just goes to show the misguided nature of our current Board of Education – they know that this is a hot topic that is taking up a lot of thier valuable time. This is time that should be spent on planning and getting resources/funding for our children to be able to return to school. Ye they hold an 8 hour meeting where over 7 hours of it was spent on renaming.

        They have a complete lack of priorities,

    2. There are certainly many blacks who have an attachment to the name of their Alma Mater. Did anyone poll the alumni of “Lincoln High School” to ask if they want the named changed? Or are Progressives going to assume all blacks think as they do?

      1. Go Mustangs!
        It would be a great teaching moment to keep the name and let students debate the namesake each year in their civics class. Kids might actually pay attention.
        Name by School number?
        “2-4-6-8 who do we appreciate?
        School 32
        School 32
        Goooo school 32”

    3. Kids are suffering with distance learning. Fix that first, then have them run the renaming process as part of the curriculum.

  34. Back in my home town in Massachusetts, the school that began my journey through the public education system had its name stripped from the records.

    Why? Simply because in his efforts to find a new trade route to Asia as well as confirm a theory that the earth was not flat, he stumbled upon what was later described as the New World.

    Was Columbus a saint, hell no! Yet, he was for from being the demon he is now portrayed. Like many of our forebears, they were flawed individuals in a very flawed time. Columbus had no way of knowing that his discovery would result in the colonization and murder of indigenous populations of North and South America.

    Was Washington perfect, was Lincoln or Roosevelt or Eisenhower or Kennedy. No! They were flawed men who had to make decisions based on the information and culture of the time.

    Stop trying to erase history. Yes, these leaders made mistakes. Argue that and just celebrate the things they did accomplish. For there are far worse characters in history that were and will always be viler than the imperfect leaders we choose to honour.

  35. Thank you! This is a very good article that sums up all the reasons why this renaming initiative is wrong and should be stopped. There is no doubt that at a time like this this is the absolute worst priority, but that’s not the only issue, it is also about wanting to strike from history people that had flaws but that learned from their mistakes and eventually became better. It is also about judging people from history using today’s standards, which is sometimes justified but often unfair.

  36. I agree with Sar – this is stupid. Why not work to get money to improve all of these schools.
    Thanks for always great reporting, Joe!

  37. Thank you for this. As someone who has a degree in history, their lack of rigorous research and citations is really disturbing. They cited a curbed article? really??? We are living in an age where a chunk of the country thinks that lizard people leading a satanic pedophile ring are at the highest seats of government. Surely we need to have better research standards when it comes to our work.

    I am all for reexamining our historical figures and re-thinking who our buildings are named after, but so much of this feels performative and removed from reality. Wouldn’t it be better to spend time and effort looking at the curriculum, or how black and brown kids are treated in the classroom? We have renamed many things after more inspiring historical figures – so far it hasn’t ended systemic racism and intergenerational poverty. And every single historical figure is problematic in some way. They were human beings of their time, and so by definition flawed.

    And really, y’all are gonna cancel LINCOLN?

  38. I don’t think we should name any public building after anyone who has affiliations with the Catholic church, or perhaps any Christian denomination. They all have a history of some sort of religious genocide or enslavement, or promoting discrimination. Every one, but, of course, the Catholic church is unequalled in its kleptocratic massacres and executions, let alone the current unfolding institutionalized molestation scandals.
    No one who ever practiced a christian religion should have a school named after them.
    OK, who’s left?

  39. Once again, a great article and analysis from Mr. Eskenazi.

    “beset by ignorance and incompetence”
    And no one is held accountable.

    A partial summation of not only the Board of Education but the entirety our city’s governance as related from the 2009 Benjamin Wachs and Joe Eskenazi SF Weekly article “The Worst-Run Big City in the U.S.”
    And, by almost any measure, with a doubling of the “astonishing” 2009 $6.6 billion city budget – it’s gotten worse.
    BTW – this article includes a list of fixes for our woes.
    See if you can find any that have been implemented.

    “red meat for the bad-faith elements”
    Just what the nut cases at the other end of the political spectrum need.
    Coming soon to a Newsmax headline:
    “San Francisco Democrats board buses to tear down the Lincoln and Washington memorials in our nation’s capital!”
    It doesn’t need to be true to be believed by the wingnuts at this point.
    This has become a national story.
    File under – how we lose The House and Senate.

    So who is ultimately to blame?
    You.
    At least those of you who vote the straight party ticket.
    All four Board of Education seats up for election in 2020 were won by candidates endorsed by the Democratic County Central Committee.
    Might be prudent to remember that next time those voter information guides come rolling into your mailbox.

    Yes – we know of the utter havoc brought about by Spanish colonizers and have full empathy for that tragic history.
    A history that should be fully explored in our school curriculum.
    But remember this – the 49ers finished off what the Spanish started with as much or greater ferocity.
    And yet we call ourselves “The Golden State”.

  40. The author writes: “None of this is to say Lincoln is a hero for allowing only 38 men to be hanged or that this moment in history is trivial and unimportant.”

    The following is Lincoln’s Dec. 11, 1862 statement to the Senate on the Native Americans to be executed:

    “Anxious to not act with so much clemency as to encourage another outbreak on the one hand, nor with so much severity as to be real cruelty on the other, I caused a careful examination of the records of trials to be made, in view of first ordering the execution of such as had been proved guilty of violating females. Contrary to my expectations, only two of this class were found. I then directed a further examination, and a classification of all who were proven to have participated in massacres, as distinguished from participation in battles. This class numbered forty, and included the two convicted of female violation. One of the number is strongly recommended by the commission which tried them for commutation to ten years’ imprisonment. I have ordered the other thirty-nine to be executed on Friday, the 19th instant.”

    President Lincoln also later pardoned one of the 39 mentioned in the letter to the Senate after evidence came to his attention questioning the man’s guilt.

    After the 1864 midterm election, Minnesota Senator Alexander Ramsey told Lincoln that Republicans could have gotten a larger electoral majority in the state if Lincoln had allowed the execution of more Indians. Lincoln told Ramsey, simply: “I could not afford to hang men for votes.”

  41. Ok Joe you don’t think the process was rigorous enough and more people should be involved in the naming process. Ok. Let’s get more involved in the renaming. Do you also fundamentally agree schools should not be named after racists who brutally stole this land we now call United States? We can’t talk about being anti-racist and send our kids to schools named for slave owners. You sound like you don’t get what is happening in the country. You sound conservative. You sound like you went to Lowell. Or are you cool with keeping the titles of schools as homages to racist narratives? Are you going to advocate for mandatory anti-racist curriculum in all Schools. Will you be the one to teach about the impact and effects of hanging 38 Native Americans defending their families from Lincoln’s army of white Boys? Very much doubt it. You sound like you are arguing for master narratives-“Lincoln grew” Yes and he hung native Americans to take their land. Where is the native perspective on your righteous argument? Cmon dude. What about people’s histories erased by your white heroes? What about the WHOLE truth? You want to keep Lincoln and Lick and hold up the patriarchal white narrative that does not make sense today then we have the right to say No. We voted for that School board.

  42. If Mission Local readers are represented by the majority of commenters here, I am really disenchanted. ML reporting is generally fabulous and I expected more enlightenment from its readers. Read Howard Zinn’s Peoples’ History of the US, Robyn D’Angelo’s White Fragility, Ibram Kendi’s How to be an Anti-Racist, and specifically on our re-naming topic: https://48hills.org/2021/01/has-the-chron-even-noticed-that-we-are-in-a-national-reckoning-over-racism/

  43. Thank you for the thoughtful article. This is performative politics at its worst; lacking in substance, context and input from the communities who make up these schools at a time when plans for school re-openings should be the priority given that kids have been out of the classroom for nearly a year. The school board should remove the renaming process from the table immediately and prioritize the safe reopening of schools for kids and families most vulnerable and all the rest asap.

  44. Welcome to the U.S.S.A. After years of Marxist creep, San Franciscans think they still live in a democracy. Ha!

  45. Thank you, Joe, for a a compelling, well-documented and presented analysis. Far more effort went into this article than the committee’s deliberations.

    Sadly, a contributing factor to their poor process is the larger societal lack of civil discourse. Too many people view difference of ideas or opinions as a reason to immediately hate/ disparage/ cancel “others.” So, we end up with sheep (fear of sounding different) and bad decisions. (Combating this spiral spurred my run for College Board – I wanted to bring different experience and perspective because the best outcomes, most defensible and sustainable decisions are made when they are pushed, tested and viewed from many angles).

    Five seconds to “discuss” Lincoln is very telling: there was no discussion whatsoever. The chair moved from the prior name to “Lincoln High,” 2 people shouted “yes,” the chair laughed and then moved on to the next name for consideration. That was it. See for yourself at 55:03.

    But let’s analyze further: Watching the video, one sees that of the 7 members shown on the screen 4 did not say anything (5 if you include the chair) – they did not say yes, they did not vote at all. The fact that Lincoln was placed on the removal list with only 2 committee members affirmatively voting yes (in addition to lack of discussion) is further cause for anyone who cares about due process to raise the alarm. Two people in all of San Francisco made the decision to remove Lincoln.

    Circling back to the larger societal problem: There may have been thoughtful committee members who wanted to at least have a debate or intellectual conversation about Lincoln. But unless they were particularly courageous, they could not even suggest this without risking ostracism and being labeled as “other.” The outcome of a society that immediately hates other without trying to understand that we are all human and all trying to do our best is this sheep behavior.

    The committee’s poor process is the natural outcome of divisiveness and knee-jerk hate. It’s an illustrative microcosm for the country.

  46. They are JUST LIKE TRUMP in the sense that they shout down anyone who doesn’t agree with their extreme politics, attempting to support their view with fake news and lies.
    For too long the people of SF who believe in good and compromise have been too quiet. It is time to put a stop to these School Board bullies. Recall every one of them!

  47. The Families for San Francisco white paper was professional, insightful, fair-minded and through — everything that our currently Board of Education and their ReNaming Committee is not.

    Particularly disturbing was the quote from Jeremiah Jeffries.

    It appears that Mr. Jeffries is also a 1st-Grade teacher.

    I won’t want such a small-minded Manichean “educator” anywhere near my child’s classroom.

  48. If our civic elite can’t live with schools named for Washington, Lincoln, Feinstein and Lowell, how can we ever expect them to live in a city named for a saint of the Catholic church? Not only does that violate the principle of separation of church and state, but it is well known that the Catholic missionaries (never mind that St. Francis wasn’t one) treated the California Native Americans very badly, to say the least. Therefore, I suggest that the name of our city must be changed. In keeping with the California tradition of using Spanish names, I propose that the city of San Francisco should henceforth be called the city of Los Babosos (loosely translated as “The Drooling Idiots”), since that is the image we have worked so diligently to create for ourselves in the minds of educated people everywhere, by virtue of our serial pronouncements of what constitutes proper thinking.

  49. JOE ESKENAZI – Excellent report!! Sure hope you sent it to the Board of Directors and Superintendent of the SFUSD.
    And Tom Doudiet above – Love your comment about the Los Babosos!!

  50. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, or as I like to pontificate, “When we’re all perfect we’ll as be perfect, until then we can try and get better.” Black and white are easier. I’m either totally for Trump or Bernie or who-ever or totally against them. How about teaching that nuance, dynamism, some give-and-take are incredibly important parts of being human. Thank you for the article.

  51. One of the school board members who voted to change the school names is Jenny Lam. Not only was Jenny Lam appointed to the school board by Mayor Breed, but she also works for the Mayor as her education advisor. (Breed also appointed Faauuga Moliga, who voted with the majority to change the school names as well.) Like most of the commentators here as well as Mr. Eskanazi, Breed also thinks it’s ridiculous to rename the schools. It is interesting, though, that the Mayor pretends to have gone to Rosa Parks Elementary School. She in fact did not. She went to Raphael Weill Elementary, which, in 1995, was renamed to honor Rosa Parks. I don’t know if the Mayor thinks that was a waste of time or silly or a travesty. There are also SFUSD schools (re)named after Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Willie Brown. Though womanizer could be applied to all three men, they’re not on the list so they are safe for the moment. Breed should want all three schools to get their original names back because, well, renaming is silly or dangerous … or maybe it’s just a travesty.

    I do not believe that Lam should lose her job in the Mayor’s Office, but it does seem to me that Breed ought to consider terminating her. I mean, does the Mayor really want an education advisor who thinks Lincoln and Feinstein aren’t crucial figures after whom schools should be named? Without knowing it, recently Feinstein herself made the case for changing the name of that school: she thinks some lunatic US Senators (I don’t mean her) were doing important democratic work by perpetuating the idiotic belief that Trump won the 2020 presidential election. I wonder if Lincoln would agree. He might know a thing or two abut it – after all, he did have first-hand experience with civil war. But back to Jenny Lam’s position in the Mayor’s Office. Perhaps you all can call on the Mayor to terminate her for being so ridiculous – and not a gazillion percent focused on reopening schools. You know, ask Breed if she’ll put her money where her mouth is.

    I would also hope that all those who think this is silly or worse will refuse to spend $20 bills once Harriet Tubman replaces Andrew Jackson. And when you do, please do so because it’s an insult to Andrew Jackson’s complex historical legacy to remove him from a piece of paper. Don’t do it because, as Brittney Cooper wrote recently in Time, it is an insult to Tubman: “Putting Tubman on legal tender, when slaves in the U.S. were treated as fungible commodities is a supreme form of disrespect.” At the very least, urge Biden not to speed up the process that was slowed down by his predecessor. We are in the middle of a pandemic. Nothing else matters, so stop canceling President Jackson!!

    Things, even important things, are renamed all the time. Sometimes it’s a non-issue. I don’t know if anyone cared that much when Dupont Avenue got renamed Grant Avenue, but probably a few people would have preferred not changing the name.
    Sometimes there are strong opinions. There were a lot of angry people when National Airport got renamed – we didn’t think Ronald Reagan deserved the honor, nor was he dead yet. There are still people in SF who call it Army Street because the United States Army is such a wonderful organization and Cesar Chavez was just some Mexican who tried to put the Gallo Winery out of business. In 1990, Queer Nation provoked rage and disbelief and agony because “queer” was irredeemable. Thirty years later, queer is, well, just plain normal. Each of the many renamings of black Americans have been celebrated, decried, ignored and adopted in multiple US social, political and cultural contexts. As with renaming some SFUSD schools, none of those renamings solved centuries of brutality, but how many of you think we should go back to a prior term? And how many of you will admit it?

    While the power to name people, places and things is not just political, it is indeed political and often exceedingly violent. Here I am thinking of that horrific scene in Roots, the mid-seventies (and more recent) miniseries based on Alex Haley’s book, in which the cracker master John Waller whipped Kunta Kinte until his literal survival depends on him relenting and saying his name is Toby – saying but not accepting. Historical fiction though it was, that episode reveals in crystal clarity the raw power of white domination over enslaved Africans, physically, emotionally, and existentially.

    Names matter. And all of those opposed to the renaming of these few dozen SFUSD schools know that full well. If names don’t matter, then what are you all ranting about?

  52. Virtue signaling performance art and a ridiculous waste of time, but right on brand. If you have kids in SF schools, is this what you want your school board to prioritize?

  53. I agree with Tom…but then we are potentially being biased against droolers. I suggest we just be a symbol like Prince, names are too provocative these days.

  54. From a San Francisco native raised in the Mission whose immigrant family came to SF in 1905. First they dump Mission High, next they’ll get rid of Mission Street and then the Historic Mission District.

  55. The Board’s renaming of schools will not change the fact that compared with other urban California schools districts SFUSD’s black and brown student achievement is dead last, no matter what name is on the wall of a school. This whole affair reminds me of a crook taking on various aliases to avoid accountability. Decision-making at 555 has devolved to what color lipstick to put on its slow-roasted pig. But the district has not yet hit the bottom of the barrel by giving up even trying to raise student achievement. Just wait until they throw Lowell in their rubbish bin of history. Then the Board of Education can throw a party and blame it on the ghosts of white supremacists

  56. Clearly they gave as much thought to this and they have to reopening schools. I’m baffled that this international city has such an incompetent set of leadership (or lack thereof) for our school system.

  57. We should let the parents and students of the schools have input on the names (and running) of the schools so they reflect the community. Performance and (resourcing) of the schools should be the priority and naming goes along with that in terms of making schools a welcome place, where students can say, that’s my school, and it reflects and appreciates who I am. Since this is Mission Local, take a look at the two biggest demographics at Mission High, around 53% Hispanic (so many with some indigenous heritage) and 15% Black. Guessing large parts of these communities (LOCALS!) support name changes. Don’t you think? I’m for it as someone born and raised, went to Buena Vista [good name], Leonard Flynn, Everett, etc.

    1. Buena Vista is named in the occupiers language, find the Ohlone equivalent or suffer the wrath of the neo Jacobin mob.

  58. would like to know which one of the 7 school board members voted against renaming the schools. That one person should be the only one left on the board, the rest, remove asap. They should go back to their black holes and read all of American history.

  59. The article is right on. I think the School Board decision was about as nuanced as the Spanish Inquisition
    As a long time SF resident (over 50 yrs) with children who attended public schools in SF when many opted for private schools or moving to Marin I am offended by the renaming of many of the schools- for example Washington, Lincoln, Feinstein and Claire Lilienthal
    History has lessons to teach – for example no one who accomplished anything for the country or SF was entirely perfect ( particularly when measured by current standards) and failure to weigh those negatives against his or her efforts and accomplishments results only in sophomoric cartoon like decisions
    By the way and pardon my age but who is Mr Jeffries and what qualified him to chair the advisory committee?

    Dave

  60. The most important thing for our students and their families is that they are back in school, in person learning and other youth activities, with safe practices that have already been proven to work in preventing the spread of the virus. I have already been involved with two families who lost a teenage child to suicide.
    Secondly. Instead of politicizing education, children should be in neighborhood schools instead of wasting so much money on all kinds of programs, and forcing children and families to find schools across town, instead fund each local elementary and middle school well, and a place that parents and guardians can be actively involved. The students that do well in school are not because of some program or political agenda, they do well because someone who cares for them is actively involved, parents, guardians and teachers are able to communicate easily, parents and guardians are able to be involved in the school in various ways of volunteering, building the bonds of community and cooperation.
    Thirdly, again, instead of spending money on the political patronage that is the teacher’s union, of which I was a member of, preventing children from going to school, spend this money instead on the allowing teachers to have an extra prep period, and during that prep period is a time to meet with other teachers of whom they teach the same student, work out a plan for those who are struggling, or to have parent meetings. This is the most effective way that I have seen in my years as a teacher to help students be happy and grow in learning.

    1. added point about children in local schools. When a child reaches high school, then they and their family can choose a high school that specializes in something that they are interested in, and have choices beyond STEM and Art schools, but especially, vocational training for electricians, construction, mechanics and other areas where there are job shortages and a person can have a job that can support a family

  61. If all Californian missions were sites of slave labor n genocides, then I wonder how we should rename the SF “Mission District”, the neighborhood my son was born in

  62. As a side note: Has anyone done an investigation of the committee and school board for bad actions? I mean have they made a racist or sexist joke (even 36 yrs ago)? Are they alcoholics or abusive that haven’t had a drink in 10 years (because hey even that long ago it was still something wrong)? Do they buy non-hybrid cars (damaging for environment)? Did they ever say or so anything homophobic? Attend a frat or church that preaches strict doctrine or something oppressive philosophical wise)? Gander- Goose

  63. The most important point of this article, from Prof. Litwack, “I am very supportive of the efforts to remove the names of slave-holders. I never thought about the possibility this could include people like Lincoln.” The purity tests will never stop. Mindcrime indeed.

  64. Reading that Excel spreadsheet, that whole document is laughable. A C – effort. Who elected these people?

  65. I am in favor of changing lots of names, but HOW you do it matters. After graduating from Lowell in 1983, I moved to Brooklyn, NY in 1993, and recently I led the effort to change PS9 after Sarah Smith Garnet, a Black woman suffragist. We were sure to engage everyone, and our efforts started at the school, not the top-down San Francisco approach.

    Having been through that and other efforts, I want to thank Joe Eskenazi, who made many of the points that were on my mind.

  66. Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar were both slaveholders. Julius, indeed, directly enslaved many thousands of people in the course of conquering and despoiling the indigenous peoples of Spain and Gaul. Both also sponsored many, many “games” (that’s what they called them) in which slaves slaughtered each other for public amusement.

    Therefore we should rename the months of July and August and give thought to replacing the Julian calendar in its totality. Caesar salads should also be forbidden in all licensed establishments. And anyone going by the names “Cesar,” “Julius,” “Julia,” “Octavia,” or similar should be encouraged to change under penalty of shunning.

  67. Lordy, I’m embarrassed to be a San Franciscan.
    How about this for a new Mission HS name?:
    The High School Very Close to the Historic SF Mission in the Mission District that was Formerly Known as Mission High School.”

    1. Lordy indeed! Only 2 out of my 3 schools are getting renamed – can’t someone dig up some dirt on George Peabody so I can be 3 for 3?

  68. In my opinion, this looks like a way to dismantle America, a country in which many of us took a never ending oath to defend from enemies without and within, to lay down our lives, if necessary.
    To eliminate all imperfect individuals (we all are) from our history will eventually lead to anyone being motivated to take a stand for fear of being ostracized.
    Is the next step to cut away all decency, truth, honor, respect and trust of all who do not agree with those leaders who have their own agenda to satisfy?

  69. 2 other very telling examples of the clear desire by the renaming committee leaders to NOT get any outside input:
    1. In the Aug 12 meeting, right after Jeffries shoots down the idea of having historians weigh as “unnecessary” (which in itself was a flawed omission), a committee member (the father of 2 middle school children) asks if there will be input from the respective school communities. Jeffries answer – “No”. Follow-up question “Are we weighing that” as part of the decision. The answer was basically that it was your job as a committee member to seek that input. So each committee member was expected by Jeffries to speak to members of the all the affected school communities?
    2. all public comments are at the beginning of the meeting before any evidence or discussion is heard. So the only public feedback they received was basically very general. And of course most people who joined the zoom calls were the vocal minority that objects to the names.
    3. the feedback form set up by the Renaming committee was ONLY to provide new names,not to express support for existing names. So how were the local communities supposed to provide input into the decision?

    So much for adhering to the stated objectives of the committee, which included getting public input and having serious dialog on the names. They came in with a list they wanted to change and rammed it through – and the Board of Education blindly went along.

  70. Yes- San Francisco should indeed be ashamed of the names these places carry and change them immediately! Remove “SCHOOL” from their names for they seem not to be meant as places of learning but rather places to impart judgement from.

  71. I would be outraged, except our kids just got accepted into private school for the coming school year. Only regret is that we didn’t act sooner, and they are not in a classroom today.

  72. This sums up exactly how I feel. I ran for San Francisco BOE in November and campaigned on the idea that we could look at renaming some schools, but that the process ought to include historians and public discussion.

    Another important element of this is the timing. Schools are closed and the Board is instead preoccupied with their political agenda. It’s disingenuous and it’s a smack in the face of the students and parents who are still struggling to cope with the distance learning. They’ve been abandoned by a Board that is too afraid to engage in the battle to reopen schools. We deserve better from our elected officials.

  73. In a nation built upon a foundation of genocide, slavery, and enduring imperialism and white supremacy, there are NO presidents who are not guilty of crimes that would preclude their names from appearing on schools in one of the only cities in all the land where a sufficient percentage of the populace are nodding their heads, not rolling their eyes, at the opening assertion of this sentence. One of the many troubles with U.S. Americans is that, like the author of this article, they seem utterly incapable of digesting the fact that the United States is arguably the world’s worst net human rights violator, and that just about every aspect of its history that isn’t related to the struggles against its human rights violations is almost always more worthy of condemnation than lionization. For human beings of conscience, at least.

    Also—and arguably more important—this whole renaming fiasco is a whopper of a red herring. Why aren’t we, to name a most glaring example, discussing the more acute issue of the blatant racism and bigotry faced by Black and Jewish students at Lowell High School? Why are the denizens of what is purportedly one of the world’s most progressive cities (that’s certainly why I moved here 15 years ago) not listening to our young brothers and sisters who are suffering from what no San Franciscan should ever endure?

    1. World’s worst net human rights violater…

      100 million people dead in China from Great Leap Forward, tens of millions of scholars banned from school during Cultural Revolution, millions in North Korea starved to death, millions of Jews and others incinerated by Nazi Germany.

      But the the US is of course far worse double eye roll

  74. Teachers create an environment. They put up posters, they prepare a lesson, they use a warm funny time of voice. Same for a company culture. A cultural environment is created. Don’t be dismissive of the downtrodden for the sake of a discipline. I take exception. I know Ethnic Studies professors at SF State that would take exception to you. We have a discipline at SF state called a Nexus; the combining of two disciplines. You take exception to what the school board did? Take a look at your neighbors in the Excelsior, Not even lower middle class. You are not creating a warm culture with this piece you wrote. https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMe1v9Tjf/

  75. Magnificent article Joe. You laid out in a very articulate manner just how poorly this whole debacle was orchestrated. That the Board of Education simply rubber-stamped it is appalling, but hardly surprising. The Board of Education has become nothing more than a pit stop on the way to the Board of Supervisors and is certainly not interested in engaging in any kind of discussion that would result in *gasp* educating kids.

  76. Thank you for this excellent article. This point especially struck home for me: “… it is a hollow gesture if not followed up by deep and honest discussions, outreach, and, perhaps most importantly, curriculum changes.” While the Board focused its energy on renaming schools, my 1st grader’s December and January SFUSD distance learning assignments included an uncritical and uncontextualized unit on American symbols. He was expected to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and color the American flag. On Jan. 6 he was expected to draw a bald eagle (“it means freedom”). The Insurrection was acknowledged with a reading of a book called Most People about how most people are good, most people smile most of the time, etc. Lessons about race this year have focused on the message “we’re all the same on the inside.” Parroting the lesson “the flag belongs to everyone!” is a totally inadequate response to my kid asking, “But isn’t this Trump’s flag?” Yes, these are small children, but they are trying to make sense of state violence against black people and right wing violence against the state. They deserve a more thoughtful curriculum and they need it now.

  77. So, they want to show sympathy toward Native Americans. Isn’t this government the same bunch of elites who totally sold-out to the corrupt tech industry? Aren’t they the same ones who allowed San Franciscans, whose families had lived in the City for generations, to be driven from their homes (by so-called “Market Forces”)? For an aristocracy supposedly so “woke” to Native Americans, they certainly haven’t learned from history.

  78. Cut-and-paste “history” combined with a school board that utterly misunderstands (or ignores) the very nature of history has now made SFUSD a national laughingstock and surely contributed to the city’s decision to sue.

    As California’s only city-county, San Francisco has a board of education that has just one school district to oversee. They are supposed to be the adults in the room. Where are they? And why have they not censured Jeffries?

  79. Jeremiah Jeffries should be relieved of his position for many reasons, but foremost displaying a stunning contempt for the very purpose he is supposed to be facilitating: a respect for academic rigor and a love of learning and self-betterment. I actually sympathize with the idea of not wanting to have multiple historians debating each figure’s suitability which would be a recipe for disaster: a drawn out, years long display of CA’s bureaucratic bloat and parents fighting petty (and almost certainly litigious) battles driven by money and ego. HOWEVER, to smugly dismiss the need to consult a historian yet then failing to put in the due diligence to fact check the notoriously error riddled Wikipedia or consider the wisdom of applying 2021 cultural standards to 19th century figures shows incompetence or laziness or both.

    Now, returning to the topic of empty and over zealous “woke” gestures, do parents or the system dare remove or even discipline a person of color? I am not being snide. It is equally wrong and offensive to alter the standard of accountability based on race.

  80. Joe, the problem with your proposed analysis of names “Put the historians in charge!” is that it does not evaluate names through the lens of how Black and Indigenous children may feel going to a school named after a person who tortured their ancestors. You seem to have a strong affinity with historians. But it is truly best to use an interdisciplinary approach to evaluating school names. My perspective comes from having worked at a university for years, working with faculty on grant proposals. Silos in academia and outside academia are a real problem, and they can prevent us from seeing the big picture and other perspectives. More and more, grantors are embracing and insisting upon interdisciplinary research and programs, simply because the results are better.

    I recently noticed that your article was fodder for an article about school renaming in San Francisco in the white supremacist news site Breitbart.

    https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2021/01/30/san-francisco-committee-changed-school-names-based-on-wikipedia-and-wild-accusations/

    If you are inspiring articles by Breitbart, you are doing it wrong. We’ve had school board members who are women of color who have had their photos with swastikas photoshopped on their foreheads on social media after they’ve taken on racial justice issues in our district. It is imperative that you not contribute to the current media narrative around our majority POC school board. The Chronicle had all of the photos of the members who voted in favor of the renaming resolution with the caption, “These are the Names of Shame” and while it may not meet the technical definition of doxxing, that sort of Fox News level type of “news coverage” is doxxing in spirit.

    I really appreciate your reporting about City Hall. When it comes to reporting on City Hall issues, you’re hands down the best reporter in the city. However, the vast majority of your articles about our school district miss the mark and are not written with an equity lens. I often feel very disappointed in your articles about SFUSD. If you decide to take on an issue involving district’s the extremely diverse 50,000 student body, I hope your humble narrator will approach these issues with true humbleness. There is a lot of disinformation and white rage around the renaming issue; and calming down the toxic energy (instead of capitalizing on it) is critical right now.

    I hope to never again see your articles as fodder for Breitbart pieces.

  81. This is just another example of “progressive” lunacy and highly overreactive behavior. Best to worry about solidly educating our young people – period!

  82. I am not a San Francisco resident. However, I am a retired inter-city community college professor who was thoroughly committed (and genuinely loved) working with my students. Renaming the schools is a superfluous action that has absolutely nothing to do with improving the children’s education. The powers that be should focus on providing the best education they can for all of their students and give up useless grandstanding.

    1. The subliminal normalization of revisionist colonizer culture has everything to do with our quality of education, or lack thereof.

  83. If only we could use such historical rationalization of “the imperfect” to defend schools names like Malcolm X high, Crazy Horse Middle School, Black Panther elementary, Ho Chi Minh college or Che Guevara university.

    Yes, Crazy Horse school does exist but it’s on a reservation in South Dakota.

    1. Ho Chi Minh presided over an oppressive regime that denied the right of private property and did not allow free discourse. Che was a murderer and Cuba does not allow free discourse either. What a great model for our schools, repression and imprisonment for political opinion!

      Come to think of it, they probably do have many schools named after them in their repressive homelands. Try asking people who fled their regimes if naming a school after them is right, if you would like to see a real fight, say Ho Chi Minh HS is Orange County, or Che HS in Miami.

  84. Mario Woods Remembrance Day. And here’s what they forgot —

    ‘”He looked like he was agitated about something and paranoid,” Jacob said. “Mario started walking back and forth, started yelling stuff to us. He tries to open my car door and out of defense I already knew he had a knife on him. After a few blows were exchanged between him and me, I got stabbed in the arm. “‘
    Since then, Jacob’s life has been in shambles. He’s afraid some people may want to harm him because the stabbing led to Woods’ death. “My arm may never be the same again. You know, I have nerve damage and all kinds of stuff. I have anxiety attacks,” Jacob said.
    Jacobs says he is the forgotten victim, the victim protesters have forgotten. “I acknowledge what they’re doing trying to get justice and everything, but at the same time you have to realize there are victims of black on black crimes that I don’t feel they acknowledge,” Jacob said.
    What also disturbs him, the Day of Remembrance that the Supervisors passed for Mario Woods. “I’m looking at this, I’m a victim of this whole situation and I haven’t heard anything from the supervisors even acknowledging the fact that you know, whatever happened,” he said.’

    Lincolns name was removed “ON PRINCIPAL” you say? Sorry but you have no principals and your protestations are transparent lies. It’s all about the power.

  85. I want to know. Did the members of the school board give back the holiday pay for President’s Day? After all, it was made a holiday because it fell between Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays!!! I be willing to bet they didn’t!!! Another blatant showing of hypocrisy by individuals that shouldn’t be telling anybody anything!

  86. Joe, look at the bright side. In these days of great political divide, where there is nary a thing that those on the left and those on the right can agree on, it should be comforting to see that folks across the entire political spectrum all seem to embrace one great truth: condemning folks is best done on the basis of as few facts as humanly possible. If we can decide that someone is terrible just on the basis of a headline or tweet – Great! If it takes a headline + the first paragraph, not as great, but still acceptable. We are the ultimate TL:dr society

  87. Abraham Lincoln does indeed deserve his reputation as the Great Emancipator and, moreover, a place in the quest for racial justice. He was not anti-Black. Neither was he anti-Native American.

    In Chicago, in July 1858, Abraham Lincoln pleaded with his audience, “let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man; this race and that race and the other race being inferior, and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position; discarding our standard that we have left us. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal…I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.”

    Frederick Douglass was “impressed with his entire freedom from popular prejudice against the colored race” after meeting with Lincoln three times in the White House, and in 1865 called him “emphatically the black man’s president.”

    In the 1850’s, Lincoln had stated that he did not feel that it “bettered their condition” to keep Blacks in America as “underlings.” In a private letter, he wrote that he “abhors the oppression of Negroes”; and he was not just referring to slavery. Lincoln stated in that letter how slavery had “the power to make me miserable,” because it denied Blacks the right, the hope, to rise in life. He also wrote for his private notes a reflection that basing slavery on skin color, or intellect or moral endowments was wrong-headed as everyone could be said to differ in all those regards to some degree or another. Later, in 1859, Lincoln wrote against those white men who “insidiously” argue that the principles of the Declaration of Independence only apply to whites. In another private letter, from the time, he said he had “no objection” to marriage between black and white.

    Yet in the 1858 Illinois US Senate race against Stephen Douglas, the race-baiting incumbent whose intent was to paint Lincoln as a dangerous radical, Lincoln was running against the territorial expansion of slavery, and before racist voters in Illinois. Thus he tailored his message during the debates, in statements such as that referenced in an interview with the local Black Student Union president where he expressed pessimism about the future of race relations in America acknowledging the audience’s prejudices: “there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

    These and other statements were made because in 1858 he could only really advocate an anti-slavery position.

    Lincoln never said Blacks were inherently inferior. But, if he had advocated, or left unanswered charges of being for, full equality in 1858, he would most certainly have committed political suicide. As one historian has said, had Lincoln not made concessions to the political climate, “the Lincoln of history simply would not exist.” Lincoln did state that the purpose of the Declaration of Independence is to “augment the happiness and value of life to all people, of all colors, everywhere.”

    Lincoln said the treatment of Blacks in the US did not “accord with justice.” Colonization was always to be voluntary; President Lincoln felt white prejudice so intractable that he urged black leaders to consider it, saying, “Go where you are treated the best.” The goal was the establishment of a black-run government and society, free of oppression. Colonization was abandoned as ventures failed, and African-Americans largely rejected it. Lincoln said blacks and whites would just have to “live out of the old relation and come out better prepared for the new.” While disagreeing with the Radical Republicans as to tactics, he said that he shared their sentiments and that at least they were “facing Zionwards.” It is not inconceivable that Lincoln still wished to afford those Blacks who wished to escape white racism the choice, even as he was working to include Blacks in the American polity.

    His reputation as “Great Emancipator” rests not only on the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment with it’s unprecedented enforcement clause and unneeded presidential signature, but his request of Frederick Douglass, before his re-election and the 13th Amendment, to devise a plan to get as many slaves as possible out of the South while his re-election, the issue of the Proclamation’s constitutionality, and the outcome of the war seemed in doubt.

    President Lincoln also approved of bills abolishing segregation on omnibuses in D.C.; for allowing black witnesses in federal courts; for equalizing penalties for the same crime; for equal pay for black soldiers; for ending discrimination on the basis of color in hiring US Mail carriers. He welcomed, for the first time, an ambassador from Haiti; African-Americans picnicked on the White House grounds; his respect and equal treatment of Blacks both in Springfield, Illinois, before his presidency, and among his White House staff is well-documented. He supported the activities of the Freedmen’s Bureau. He approved the transfer of hundreds of thousands of acres of abandoned plantation lands to freedmen and their families.

    When he visited occupied Richmond, he took off his hat and returned the bow of an elderly black man–an act of equality noted by sullen white onlookers and the press alike. In what was to be his last public address, Lincoln called for public schooling for blacks, and for the vote for black soldiers and the well educated. John Wilkes Booth, in the crowd, seethed “that means —citizenship”, and vowed that the speech would be Lincoln’s last.

    Lincoln thus was killed because Black suffrage, Black rights, Black lives did matter to him.

    Also, noteworthy is Lincoln’s promise following the 1862 Sioux-U.S. War. As a young man Lincoln had saved a Native American’s life from bloodthirsty soldiers. Now, as President, Lincoln commuted the sentences of 265 Dakota men, having insisted that in review a distinction be made between murder or rape and participation in battle.

    Lincoln had earlier asked the Secretary of the Interior to look into the matter of Indian Affairs reform. When Bishop Henry Whipple visited Lincoln in Washington to plead the cause of the 303 condemned men and to inform Lincoln of the perfidy of Government agents toward the Indians, Lincoln said that he could “feel the rascality of this Indian business down to my boots” and vowed to several people that when “this war ends, and if I live, this Indian system shall be reformed!” He brought the subject up in Annual Message to Congress, but Congress did nothing.

    In 1864 Lincoln told the Native American rights advocate John Beeson, “You may rest assured that as soon as the pressing matters of this war is settled the Indians shall have my first care and I will not rest until Justice is done to their and your satisfaction.”

    Lincoln had inherited a lamentable and deplorable Indian system. Who knows what a second term might have brought to US government-American Indian relations.

    Sent from my iPad

    Sent from my iPad

  88. “I never thought about the possibility this could include people like Lincoln.”

    That was his mistake, right there. Those of us who have been skeptical of the whole “rewrite history” thing going on have seen this coming. It wasn’t hard to predict, if one was willing.

    You never think the mob is going to come for you… until it’s at your door.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *