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Vanuska’s View, PRO: Name change trend arrives in San Francisco with mixed reviews

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Vanuska’s View, PRO: Name change trend arrives in San Francisco with mixed reviews

“We have to accept our history and acknowledge the fact that history is not a pretty picture, but that doesn’t mean we cannot learn from this and move forward.”

“We have to accept our history and acknowledge the fact that history is not a pretty picture, but that doesn’t mean we cannot learn from this and move forward.”

Karl Vanuska

“We have to accept our history and acknowledge the fact that history is not a pretty picture, but that doesn’t mean we cannot learn from this and move forward.”

Karl Vanuska

Karl Vanuska

“We have to accept our history and acknowledge the fact that history is not a pretty picture, but that doesn’t mean we cannot learn from this and move forward.”

Karl Vanuska '19, Sports Editor

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San Francisco is a progressive city and should not change its ideals just because some people want the names of streets to remain the same, even though these street names are named unseemly people.

This movement to change the names of monuments, street names, and national holidays is a nationwide idea. We have seen it with the changing of Confederate statues, and even the changing of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. As these movements started to form, it spread to other areas as well, like in San Francisco, where there are more street names being looked at for possible changes—and for good reason. The names of streets should be used to acknowledge great people and their deeds.

Sometimes, history needs to be changed to atone for our mistakes and actually celebrate true heroes. Too many times we want to keep our history for the sake of not ruining it or thinking that we want to completely erase those memories, when in fact, changing these streets actually acknowledges these mistakes and we learn from this.

It is misguided to protect some of these street names and call it “protection of our culture,” when in fact, sometimes these street names don’t represent our city as a progressive city. In fact, Riordan High School is located on Phelan Avenue, and many do not know that it is named after the father of James D. Phelan, who was a mayor of San Francisco and U.S. senator from California.

While Phelan was an important political figure to California and San Francisco, it doesn’t change the fact that he was racist and ran on the campaign slogan of “Keep California White.” This is part of history and we must accept that, but we cannot support or honor horrible people.

We have to accept our history and acknowledge the fact that history is not a pretty picture, but that doesn’t mean we cannot learn from this and move forward. By naming streets after dictators and racists we give them recognition and honors that shouldn’t be allowed. Let us leave learning about our history to our museums, where we learn from our mistakes and see our history for what it is. Give street names the glory and honor they deserve by naming them after people who should be rewarded for making positive contributions to our community. For example, San Francisco renamed Army Street to Cesar Chavez and although people complained about that name change, that too, is now part of a history that many no longer remember.

When we do re-name a street, it should be in order to admit our mistakes and to right our wrongs, not just because we don’t like a particular part of history. We need to erase those that have done detrimental deeds and recognize those who have accomplished outstanding achievements.

1 Comment

One Response to “Vanuska’s View, PRO: Name change trend arrives in San Francisco with mixed reviews”

  1. Mr. Fern on December 13th, 2018 10:07 am

    Excellent write up Karl! Your take away message of differentiating remembering and honoring the past is well articulated and applauded.

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Vanuska’s View, PRO: Name change trend arrives in San Francisco with mixed reviews