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San Francisco Targets Abraham Lincoln and Other American Heroes in School Renaming Plan

Michael Foust | CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor | Updated: Dec 17, 2020
San Francisco Targets Abraham Lincoln and Other American Heroes in School Renaming Plan

San Francisco Targets Abraham Lincoln and Other American Heroes in School Renaming Plan

The names of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin Roosevelt would be stripped from San Francisco schools under a controversial proposal by a district committee that could result in the renaming of 44 school sites.

The School Names Advisory Committee of the San Francisco Unified School District is expected to make a formal recommendation in January, although the committee held a hearing in October in which it listed 44 school names – one-third of the total number of schools – as problematic, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Lincoln is known among Americans as the president who helped free the slaves, but the committee views him as problematic for Abraham Lincoln High School because his actions led to Native Americans losing land.

Washington is championed by historians for stepping down and serving only two terms, but the committee wants his name removed from George Washington High School because he owned slaves.

Roosevelt led the country through the Great Depression and World War II, but the committee says his name should be axed from Roosevelt Middle School because of his support for Japanese American internment camps.

Even U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein – a Democrat and a champion of liberal causes – is under attack. Her name is on Dianne Feinstein Elementary, yet the committee wants it removed, in part, because she allowed the confederate battle flag to be flown in front of city hall in the 1980s.   

Thomas Edison’s name would be removed from Thomas Edison Charter Academy because he electrocuted animals.

The committee’s list also would remove the names of James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Herbert Hoover, Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir and Daniel Webster, among others. Much of the committee’s research is copied and pasted from Wikipedia. The images of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt comprise Mt. Rushmore, a National Park site.

“Uprooting the problematic names and symbols that currently clutter buildings, streets, throughout the city is a worthy endeavor,” Jeremiah Jeffries, chairman of the renaming committee, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Only good can come from the public being reflective and intentional about the power of our words, names and rhetoric within our public institutions.”

But San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed criticized the effort, saying the district “should be focused on getting our kids back in the classroom” in the midst of the pandemic.

“To hear that the District is focusing energy and resources on renaming schools – schools that they haven’t even opened – is offensive,” Breed said in a statement. “It’s offensive to parents who are juggling their children’s daily at-home learning schedules with doing their own jobs and maintaining their sanity. It’s offensive to me as someone who went to our public schools, who loves our public schools, and who knows how those years in the classroom are what lifted me out of poverty and into college. It’s offensive to our kids who are staring at screens day after day instead of learning and growing with their classmates and friends.”

President Trump this summer warned Americans that the Left wouldn’t stop at attacks on Confederate monuments.

“They started off by canceling things that were controversial, and I actually said years ago,” Trump told The Washington Post, “... ‘Well, does that mean that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are next?’ And it turns out that they are next. ... I was sort of half-joking, and people are now saying ‘Trump was right.’ These people are crazy. They’ve gone stone-cold crazy.”

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Wilshire Images

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist PressChristianity TodayThe Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

San Francisco Targets Abraham Lincoln and Other American Heroes in School Renaming Plan