March 22, 2005

Parents demand renaming of Berkeley's Jefferson ES; cite slavery as reason

Parents, students and teachers soon will get to vote on the renaming of Berkeley, CA's Jefferson Elementary School.

Why? Because the former US President owned slaves. At least that's the reason cited by several black teachers, including one who is the mother of three former Jefferson students.

A list of potential new names has been released by Jefferson principal Betty Delaney, which includes former UN diplomat Ralph Bunche, Hispanic migrant rights leader Ceasar Chavez, late Berkeley city councilwoman Florence McDonald, 19th Century abolitionist Sojourner Truth, Ohlone - based on the name of the Indian people who lived in the Bay Area prior to the settling of the area, Peace, Rose, and Sequoia.

Marguerite Talley-Hughes, a kindergarten teacher at Jefferson who is African American, said she thinks it is reasonable to want a name that is not offensive to some in the school community.

"It's very clear that the name is offensive to a significant part of the population,'' said Hughes, who lives in the neighborhood and sent her own three children to Jefferson.

"There's no reason we can't have a name that everyone likes and can feel good about,'' she said.

So they figure that naming the school after a former US President is offensive.

And people wonder why I refer to the place as "Berserkley."

Just damn.

Posted by mhking at March 22, 2005 01:39 PM

Because, obviously, no-one could be offended by the proposed replacements...

Posted by: Rob at March 22, 2005 03:33 PM

Is someone going to lobby for the renaming of the King James Bble on the grounds that James 1st/6th had slaves?

Theres sensitivity and then there's pathetic. This is the latter

Posted by: Nick Saunders at March 22, 2005 06:20 PM

Is ther no way to stop this idiocy? BTW love your "Berserkley". Hope you don't mind if I use it, we need to spread the usage.

Posted by: BobG at March 22, 2005 06:23 PM

In fact while we are on the subject obviously USA needs to be renamed on the grounds that it (like most western countries until the early 19th century) had slavery in the law.

reasonably sure Jefferson was not the only US president to have slaves.

Those who ignore or try to eradicate unsavoury elements of the past are doomed to repeat its mistakes. The best way to move on from that is to understand which means examining it. This cannot be done if all reference is removed. OK we all agree slavery is and was wrong. However slave ownership was an accepted thing in society at the time and Jeffersson from what i know of him was not defined by his ownership of slaves. He did far more that was good for America than the bad part of having slaves. For that reason alone he should be remembered.

Posted by: Nick Saunders at March 22, 2005 06:25 PM

Well, as Lindsay Graham said, when asked about not celebrating Lincoln's birthday, "Some things take a while to get over."

C'mon guys, they can do whatever they want, it's not hurting you. Whatever happened to live and let live? Oh yeah, that means some people might do things you don't like

Posted by: zen_more at March 23, 2005 01:15 AM

'And people wonder why I refer to the place as "Berserkley."'

I thought it was due to an inability to get that log out of your eye.

Posted by: JRI at March 23, 2005 07:45 AM

ignoring someone and choosing not to honor them are two very different ideas. jefferson is okay because "everyone was doing it?" Odd that "moral relativism" seems to be okay when defending one's beloved mythical heroes. The right to self-naming is at the very heart of any creed that values the individual autonomy. This group of individuals is working to persuade their school to make a change - not through bullets or bomb, but through rational debate. For conservatives to be against this is a reprehensible abandonment of the principles of liberty. Totalitarians tell other people who they can and can not deem worthy of honor. Your inability to take seriously the desires of people in their own community smacks of elitism, arrogance and "nanny-state" interventionism. But if it feels good, do it, right? First the rabid support for expansionist war of choice, now this absurd political correctness against local communities- what is a true conservative to do in this day and age.

Zen more is right - it's not hurting you, live and let live.

Posted by: lindendwood at March 23, 2005 10:15 AM

Berkeley is not the only community. In New Orleans (my hometown) a school was named after Dr. Charles Drew instead of Washington because Washington was a slave owner - happened maybe 5 years ago. Locally McDonald gave a ton of money to New Orleans for schools many years ago, so when I grew up there were many schools named McDonald #14 (#26 etc.) - now there are very few. I forget his sin that is causing the renaming - believe racism, but can't tell you the details.

Believe you're looking at a far broader trend than just Berkeley, and would not be surprised to find a number of southern schools changing names in the future.

Posted by: tarylcabot at March 23, 2005 01:12 PM

"Berserkley" - that's a good one! I've never encountered that one before! Ha!

Posted by: The Liberal Avenger at March 23, 2005 01:25 PM

You know, this is the type of garbage that makes people like me twitch a little.....

Posted by: Mad Mikey at March 23, 2005 02:33 PM

Yes, if the free market supports slavery, there should be slavery. Who are these Berkeley know-it-all who think they're smarter than the market?

Posted by: Annie Rand at March 23, 2005 04:26 PM

"Annie" Rand--

One of the most basic tenets of Objectivism is individual freedom. The entire concept of slavery is incongruous with Rand's philosophy.

But anyways, leave it to these kooks to ignore any good inherent within any individual and focus instead upon the bad... Was it not Jefferson who supplied the very argument to end slavery within the Declaration of Independence? Did he have nothing at all to do with our western expansion which ultimately led to the settlement of the very land upon which Berkeley sits?

It's just ridiculous.

Posted by: Me at March 23, 2005 09:47 PM

TJ in "Notes on the State of Virginia", Query XIV, Laws: "Add to this...[blacks']own judgment in favour of the whites, declared by their preference of them, as uniformly as is the preference of the Oranotoon [orangutan] for the black woman over those of his own species". More? "But I could never find a black that had uttered a thought above the level of plain narration; never see even an elementary trait of painting or sculpture". Ad nauseam. It's equivalent to asking a Jew to go to a school named for Goebbels (also a high govt official whose beliefs were the norm for his society)or an Irishman to celebrate King Billy's b'day.

Posted by: squatty roo at March 24, 2005 01:32 AM

I believe that jefferson didnt ignor these slaves plight. Yes he did own slaves, but unlike many other southerners of his time, he was sympathetic. when he drafted the declaraion of independence he noted 'that all men are equal' and in an early draft he stated his grievens that the king of Britain is ‘determined to keep an open market where MEN should be bought and sold’.
Jefferson was an amazing founding father but should we rename Washington, for he kept over 300 slaves and only freed them upon his death, and we all to often forget about the Native Americans who where killed in such great numbers it could be considered genocide!

Posted by: Sarah at May 29, 2005 02:00 AM
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