Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 13, 2018

Naming rights

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

If you were interested in doing something to not memorialize the worst of our US History in Alameda, you can start by signing on to the petition to rename Jackson Park.  Because apparently it’s the responsibility of average citizens to initiate these things because our appointed officials coughparkandrecboardcough does not feel comfortable doing anything controversial or something like that.

I didn’t mention because sometimes I forget to go back and make video clips which is typically how I remember to inform you, gentle reader, of some of the more noteworthy bits that are said during these meetings.   But now that I’m reflecting back on one of the last Rec and Park Board meetings where this topic was discussed it’s worth nothing that one of the Board members made a suggestion that the name could be retained if it were accompanied with educational plaques to explain why the name was initially chosen (randomness) and why the name is problematic.

He then brought up a visit to concentration camps in Germany and how they just exist without any educational plaques or narratives about how terrible they are.  The reason for this anecdote was to offer the point of view that negative portions of the history of a nation should and can still exist as a monument of what not to do.

This is a very good point, however…

As someone who also visited Germany fairly recently what I noticed is that there are no parks, playground, schools, buildings, or even toilets named for anyone associated with the Nazi party.

None.

There’s no Himmler Park or Riefenstahl Movie Theater or Mengele Hospital.  I’m sure at one point there might have been some public monuments named after leaders of the Nazi party, but the German people and government opted to not retain these.

Heck even Hitler’s bunker has been unceremoniously converted into a parking lot.  Because that’s pretty much all the honor that a man like that deserves.

Parks and schools and pretty much all public monuments really should be named for people and ideals that represent the best of the country.  There are so many people who have done amazing things in the US and in Alameda locally who go unrecognized and would spark a much more interesting historic conversation in our city, why not take this opportunity to stop glossing over the worst of our history in some attempt to retain some nostalgia that doesn’t exist because of a name but rather because of the place itself.

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11 Comments »

  1. There’s a good case to be made for taking Old Hickory’s name down, but the obvious question is who else/how far?

    Does it go all the way up include George Washington, Father of the Country and slaveowner? Or if not, how far does it go and who is covered by or exempted from this policy?

    Comment by dave — July 13, 2018 @ 6:43 am

    • It’s a fair question. Personally my answer is: I don’t know. History is, of course, written by the victors and no victor is going to talk about how terrible of a person they were or how damaging their policies were to a huge subsection of people. These issues that confront us are not black and white and there is no bright line that tells us what is right and wrong. But having the conversation is a great first step and having a deeper understanding about the nuances of history is never a bad thing.

      Comment by Lauren Do — July 13, 2018 @ 9:12 am

  2. Rename Jackson Park Mayor Terry LaCroix Park. Generations of stoners may be bummed but it’s the right thing to do.

    Comment by Mike Henneberry — July 13, 2018 @ 8:24 am

  3. Since the park serves in many ways as a pocket park to the surrounding homes, I would certainly engage the existing neighborhood to get their thoughts on a new name.

    But I agree, President Andrew Jackson’s mark on history was a very painful one — his signature on the Indian Removal Act and his support for slavery are the main reasons in my book to consider a name change.

    Comment by Karen — July 13, 2018 @ 11:36 am

  4. The name of the park was chosen by politicians in 1895 and probably hasn’t been thought of much since then, until now. Is keeping the name worth the legitimate offense to people (us, our neighbors) who live here now. There’s no risk of erasing history (as if erasing history were that easy), nor is it the first step to turning back the clock on the westward expansion of the US (Jackson and many others were big on that) or returning to British rule (Jackson repelled them at the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812).

    Comment by MP — July 13, 2018 @ 12:13 pm

  5. Jackson was the most admired man of his times- stopping a move by South Carolina to nullify federal law, defeating the Creek Indians, championing voting rights for white males, and breaking up the Bank of the US which he said hurt poor people, and yes he forced Native Americans to leave the South in the Trail of Tears. The Native Americans had few friends as the British had provided them arms used against American settlers and army in the War of 1812.

    By today’s standards he would be considered a white supremecist, as would all the Founding Fathers, most of the adult population of the USA, the Constitution, and every politician until the 1950s and beyond. This puts pretty much everything in the USA subject to name changes. I wonder if Dr. King might say that this is not as important as other actions which actually reinforce racism like redlining, poverty, poor schools, housing, and voting rights?

    Locally, we could have all the homes built on Shellmound Street removed, since they desecrated Native American burial sites and don’t forget all the land Californians illegally seized from Hispanic settlers violating the Treaty of Guadeloupe- Hidalgo after the Mexican-American War- or are we just going for something simplistic and painless?

    Comment by Nowyouknow — July 13, 2018 @ 1:44 pm

  6. I’m glad Nowyouknow set the record straight and now I know what I apparently was too ignorant to know until now. What I actually do know is people are offended by the fact that we have a park named after Andrew Jackson, who so far as I know was NOT a real Alamedan and didn’t even live here! So why not rename the park after Terry LaCroix, who I think everyone can agree was a pretty good guy.
    In the meantime I’m going to continue to fight racism, redlining, poverty, poor schools and for housing and voting rights instead of using them as an excuse not to do anything about renaming a park whose namesake was the architect of the Trail of Tears. Let’s all get together and urge the ARPD board to change the name to Mayor Terry Lacroix Park.

    Comment by Mike Henneberry — July 13, 2018 @ 2:20 pm

  7. along the lines of Mikes thoughts, I don’t have any problem naming Parks or other things after people in more recent history. Arnerich, Corica, LittleJohn, ect.

    Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — July 13, 2018 @ 3:50 pm

    • But he was the Mayor when Measure A became part of the City Charter.

      Comment by frank — July 13, 2018 @ 5:48 pm

      • what’s your point Frank.?

        Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — July 14, 2018 @ 10:45 am

  8. If you were around when Measure A was passed most people (who weren’t psychos) voted for it because they thought it would prevent victorians from being torn down and being replaced with ticky-tack apartments. I was too young to vote then but I remember my parents talking about it in those terms. They didn’t think it would stop all future new apartment construction on vacant or non single family parcels.
    Accordingly: change Jackson Park to LaCroix Park!

    Comment by Mike Henneberry — July 13, 2018 @ 7:07 pm


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