San Francisco officials are thinking of removing former President Abraham Lincoln’s name from a local high school after a district committee said the former U.S. leader did not show that “black lives mattered” despite abolishing slavery.
The 16th president of the United States was among dozens of historical figures who spent most of their life filled with abuse, oppression, and racism. The city’s school district’s renaming committee argued the former president was not worthy of being graced on its buildings.
The chairman of the naming committee, Jeremiah Jeffries, said, “The discussion of Lincoln centered around his treatment of First Nation peoples, because that was offered first.” the first-grade teacher said, “Once he met criteria in that way, we did not belabor the point.”
Jeffries said that Lincoln, and the presidents before and after him, were not able to showcase through policy or rhetoric that they cared about black lives. He said the officials only focused on human capital and that black people were casualties of building up their wealth.
The chairman said that it was very important to uproot the names and symbols that spread discrimination. Jeffries added that public institutions should reflect the power of words, names, and rhetoric.
However, several critics argued that the district’s effort to rename 44 different sites was misguided. They claimed that officials only relied on Wikipedia or specific news sources instead of historical records and that they did not conduct sufficient research.
Many people initially agreed with the renaming of several buildings that honored people such as Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe because they owned slaves. Also, Vasco Nunez Balboa, who was a vicious conquistador, was included in the list.
But some of the names were questioned, including George Washington, Herbert Hoover, and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. The renaming committee said that Feinstein was included due to her replacement of a vandalized Confederate flag placed in front of City Hall in 1984.
U.S. President Donald Trump also expressed his disapproval of the effort and said, “So ridiculous and unfair. Will people never make a stand!” using his Twitter account. Additionally, Republican Senator Ted Cruz said the America-hating radical Left was not satisfied with any previous leadership.
Many people admired former President Lincoln and aspired to be like him, who had the title of “Great Emancipator.” Former President Barack Obama used the Lincoln Bible during his 2009 inauguration.
A Lincoln scholar and director of Hunter College’s Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, Harold Holzer, said that the 16th president of the United States “saved the country from dividing and ruin. He should be honored for it,” the New York Post reported.
Lincoln’s history as president was complicated and filled with various issues and problems, including the support to the Homestead Act of 1862 and the transcontinental railroad that took away the land of Native Americans. Additionally, he turned his focus on the Civil War while delegating the sometimes bloody response to Native American conflicts to other officials.
Holzer considered Lincoln to be more progressive than the people of his time and rose above the growing hostility towards Native Americans. He added no one in history would pass 21st century standards for their deeds during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The school board plans to cast votes on the recommendations in early 2021 as Jeffries advised the public to research for themselves. He said, “There is a lot of scholarship out there. I encourage everyone to seek it out. Read.”