Renaming San Francisco Schools

May 2, 2021 Updated: May 2, 2021

I was very encouraged by Judge (retired) Quentin Kopp’s article about renaming San Francisco schools [“Recall, Rescind, and Recapitulate in San Francisco,” published April 7 in the Northwest edition].

The San Francisco School Board had decided to strip public schools of the names of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Muir, Father Serra, Paul Revere, Francis Scott Key, and Dianne Feinstein.

While I understand that some have concerns about the two slaveholders on the list, they were still founding fathers of our country and in personal writings expressed reservations about the institution. Re: Jefferson, Monticello.org states, ”He believed that slavery presented the greatest threat to the survival of the new American nation. He thought that slavery was contrary to the laws of nature, which decreed that everyone had a right to personal liberty These views were radical in a world where unfree labor was the norm.”

I regret that he did not see fit to carry those high ideals into his private life. But that was 220 years ago, approximately.

George Washington said, “I never mean to possess another slave by purchase, it being among my first wishes to see some plan adopted, by which slavery in this country may be abolished by law.”

Great Britain abolished slavery in 1807, the United States in 1865, Brazil in 1888. Saudi Arabia abolished slavery in 1962, when I was 7 years old, at the insistence of the Kennedy administration. Wow. America’s not such a bad country after all.

Or maybe it could turn out to be if we kowtow to the neo-Stalinist revisionism practiced by the school board of San Francisco. In the novel “1984” by George Orwell, the hero was employed in rewriting history so that it would conform to the Party’s official version.

In any case, I would like to thank Judge/Senator Kopp for his many years of service to California and the Bay Area.

Clayton Rich

South San Francisco