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The “vindication” movement for America’s “racist past” is being driven by the San Francisco Unified School District. Its actions include setting up a “renaming committee” that is deciding to rename many state institutions due to racial issues. One of the schools they will rename will be Abraham Lincoln High School because, according to the committee, the man who abolished slavery did not show much regard for black people.
But not only the school named after Abraham Lincoln will have its name changed, there are a number of prominent figures who, according to the School District committee, should be removed from the name of the institutions.
In all, 44 of the 125 schools in the San Francisco Unified School District will be renamed in a giant effort to be part of the national “racial justice” process, driven largely by progressive and leftist movements like “Black Lives Matter,” embraced by many mass media and Democratic political figures.
Other names to be changed at the institutions include “George Washington,” “Herbert Hoover” and “Thomas Edison,” and even “Senator Dianne Feinstein’s name will be removed from Dianne Feinstein Elementary School for allowing the Confederate flag to fly outside City Hall,” according to the Daily Mail.
Abraham Lincoln, the most targeted
But getting back to the case about President Lincoln, the criticism was particularly severe. “Most of his policies turned out to be detrimental to [Native Americans],” reads part of the renaming committee’s explanation.
The Daily Mail article cites three specific arguments to explain the renaming of the school in honor of national hero Abraham Lincoln
- Under his government, indigenous peoples were deprived of much of their land through the 1862 Land Ownership Act and the Pacific Railroad Act.
- In 1864, the Lincoln Administration oversaw the deportation of the Navajo tribe from their land in Arizona to march a brutal 450-mile journey to New Mexico.
- Abraham Lincoln was also behind the largest mass hanging in U.S. history, where 38 men from Dakota were sentenced to death in Minnesota in 1862.
Yet, the San Francisco Unified School District approach to history seems to ignore some of the context of these actions.
For example, in the case of the “Dakota 38,” the largest execution in U.S. history did occur. But one of the greatest acts of mercy also occurred, as President Lincoln reviewed the sentence and revoked the death penalty for some 265 Sioux Americans who began the rebellion in Minnesota. This brought criticism from both sides for Abraham Lincoln; he suffered the wrath of the Native Americans for his lack of clemency, and also of his allies for his clemency.
The act of evaluating history through a racial lens without taking into account the historical moment at the time is often questioned. In 1862, the United States was at the height of the Civil War. A battle between northern and southern states that ended with the abolition of slavery for 4 million black people.
Even so, the president of the committee to change names in the Unified District, and also a first grade teacher, Jeremiah Jeffries, mentioned, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, “that the history of Lincoln and the Native Americans is complicated, not as well known as that of the Civil War and slavery.
“Lincoln, like the presidents before and after him, did not demonstrate through politics or rhetoric that black lives mattered to them outside of human capital and as victims of wealth building,” Jeffries argues.
The chairman of the renaming project explained that “the committee decided on the name change after they discussed Lincoln’s treatment of Native Americans, and that the positive parts of his record cannot rule out the negative ones.”
Criticism of School District Decisions
Criticism of the Unified School District was soon felt. For example, the article cited in the San Francisco Chronicle contains several observations by historians who disagree with the decision, and further wonder what criteria were used to define whether or not Lincoln was a racist.
“Uprooting the problematic names and symbols that currently clutter buildings, streets and the entire city is a worthy effort,” said the chairman of the renaming committee. “Only good can come from the public’s reflection and intent on the power of our words, names and rhetoric within our public institutions,” he added.
That statement is challenged in the media with a simple counterargument: “history is not always clear. People are complicated. Heroism and bravery can be obscured by beliefs and behaviors considered abhorrent when viewed through a modern lens.
It seems that the renaming committee only wanted to follow a path that would comply with its own line of thought, without studying the other side of the story or evaluating historical studies.
This is not the only controversy that has the San Francisco Unified School District as its protagonist. Recently, the district, in a matter of minutes, broke with a whole school meritocracy: the merit-based admission process at Lowell High School was replaced by a lottery system.
“This high school is considered one of the best in California and in the United States, its population density is predominantly Asian (61% of its students are Asian-American) and the decision made by the School District in theory seeks to “benefit” young Hispanics and blacks so that they have a better chance of entering college,” reads a previous article in El American.
The reality is that the San Francisco Unified School District is making many decisions based on vindictive value judgments that resonate with Progressive demands on American society. These measures may be the tip of an iceberg regarding school reform.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.