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SF Considers Removing Slaveholders’ Names From Schools

George Washington High School in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco School Board President Matt Haney has suggested renaming schools that bear the names of slave-owners.

“Our school name communicates something to our kids,” said SF  School Board President Matt Haney said in a statement. “It says something about who we want them to be, what we value, so it’s important.”

Haney announced Tuesday, September 6, that he would be introducing a resolution before the board this month that would clarify the rules and regulations for renaming the schools, which include: Francis Scott Key Elementary, Jefferson Elementary and George Washington High.

Comments have ranged from, “Change is needed and you are doing great in leading the way,” to, “This is the most ridiculous, politically correct farce I’ve heard,” the SFGate reported.

Washington and his wife owned 317 slaves, and Jefferson owned about 600 in his lifetime. Monroe owned about 75 slaves, and Key owned seven.

“I would not want to speak for the school community,” Haney said. “It’s a very tricky issue. I’m trying to stay away from condemning anyone. It was a very different time back then. But slavery was America’s original sin.”

Haney said no action would be taken unless students, staff, parents and alumni were in agreement; under his proposal, schools would be encouraged to construct committees comprised of students, parents, teachers and administrators to study the issue. If the committee favors the change, the school board—who has the ultimate authority—will consider it.

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