The San Francisco Board of Education will advance a controversial plan to rename 44 schools in the city.
On Tuesday evening, the board approved a resolution by a vote of 6-1 to change school names that honored historical figures with direct or broad ties to slavery, oppression, racism or the “subjugation” of human beings.
“This is an opportunity for our students to learn about the history of our school’s names, including the potential new ones,” Board President Gabriela López said in a statement. “This resolution came to the school board in the wake of the attacks in Charlottesville, and we are working alongside the rest of the country to dismantle symbols of racism and white supremacy culture. I am excited about the ideas schools will come up with.”
Board member Mark Sanchez called the decision to rename the schools a “moral message.”
“It’s a message to our families, our students and our community. It’s not just symbolic,” he said, according to the Chronicle
Historian Harold Holzer warned the Associated Press of a “danger of excess” as the country takes a wrecking ball to its past.
“I think there’s a danger in applying 21st century moral standards to historical figures of one or two centuries ago,” he said. “We expect everyone to be perfect. We expect everyone to be enlightened. But an enlightened person of 1865 is not the same as an enlightened person of 2021.”
Holzer disagrees with the renaming of Abraham Lincoln High School, which the San Francisco committee said was due to the treatment of Native Americans during Lincoln’s administration.
“No one deserves more credit for the destruction of slavery,” said Holzer, who is a Lincoln Scholar and director of Hunter College’s Roosevelt House of Public Policy Institute. “Lincoln is much more liberator than he is an abuser on the subject of racial justice,” he said, adding. “He is a soaring figure in American history.”
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