Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 12, 2020

Kicking ass and renaming names

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

The other day I received this notification in Twitter:

And I had to scroll back to see what was being brought back, turns out it’s this:

If this is not the right time for this, I don’t know when else is the right time for this.  We’re seeing monuments to problematic figures in our history beheaded (and removed), toppled into the water, set fire to and then removed, and pressure to remove names from military bases honoring confederate leaders.  Taking action on renaming Jackson Park should be an easy thing for this City to do.

As a reminder though, two years ago the members of the Rec and Park Commission balked at the thought of even considering starting the process.  Then Rec and Park Commissioner and now member of the Open Government Commission appointed by Tony Daysog, Ruben Tilos, bent himself into verbal pretzels to undermine the work done by Alameda historian Rasheed Shabazz who presented an argument as to why a park named after Andrew Jackson probably wasn’t appropriate for this city.   We had this terrible argument from an April 2018 meeting with the phrase “opinionated history” being offered as a valid argument against a well defined letter:

Someone gave us a letter, puts in facts in the letter but how do we figure out are these facts correct. You know the history books I read as a schoolchild are different from the history books now. And there’s a lot of, you know, opinionated history that goes out there now so, it’s like, maybe we figure out, okay who is the historian or what is correct in history and we find out who is that author.

Then this statement that was absolutely uttered into a microphone and then videotaped for posterity in May 2018:

We have to do the grey part.  We have to make the decision of what is good and bad and that is not fact.  That is opinion.  The opinions 200 years ago for slaveholders was probably good.  Now it’s bad.  We’re going to have to make that decision so I’d like to isolate everything in the black and white so if staff said all of the criteria that you’ve named are true and it’s coming from the source the City of Alameda takes as being the truth I’d like to make my decision in that regard.  So I’m not questioning your facts but I’d like staff to tell us this is it.

There’s a bigger, more problematic narrative at issue here in this one conversation about renaming Jackson Park at the Rec and Park Commission, but I’m going to save it for another post because it has to do with implicit bias and who carries the weight of authority in this city when it comes to academia or history.  But that’s another post for another day.

We should be taking a good hard look at all of our public named spaces and determine if the legacy of the person it is named after is something that we believe, as a city, is a net positive.


  1. At one point there was discussion of turning Jackson Park into a playground. Not sure whatever happened, but there were neighborhood meetings to decide whether or not to move forward:

    Just a thought, if it does becomes a playground, the neighbors may want to choose a name that honors children.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 12, 2020 @ 6:52 am

    • I hope for both: a playground AND a renaming for children.

      Comment by dave — June 12, 2020 @ 7:48 am

  2. And if Calhoun Street is named after John C. Calhoun, Jackson’s Veep and the staunchest of defenders of slavery, it is another candidate for renaming.

    Comment by Jono Soglin — June 12, 2020 @ 7:42 am

    • There are solid reasons to rename anything that has Jackson or Calhoun’s name on it, but think about how far you want to take this. Other 19th century figures with connections to slavery have streets names after them:

      -Henry Clay, considered a moderate on slavery but owned slaves his entire life
      -Millard Fillmore, while personally disliking slavery he was a compromiser, some would say appeaser, vs slave interests, especially the notorious fugitive slave law.
      -Daniel Webster declared himself anti-slavery but was no abolitionist and never opposed slavery where it already existed.
      -Zachary Taylor was a slaveowner
      -There are probably a few others that I’m missing

      And the big ones:

      -George Washington was a slaveowner.
      -Some radicals even point the finger at Lincoln, pointing out a couple of racist comments he made, and other nitpicks. To be clear, these are typically the types who like to speak radically for shock value, but be ready for that debate.

      Comment by dave — June 12, 2020 @ 9:05 am

      • I never understood this argument, as if we shouldn’t ever try at all. We have to start somewhere.

        We should probably change Washington School then… wait…

        Comment by JRB — June 12, 2020 @ 9:36 am

      • You could say that Churchill was as anti-fascist as they come (“We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender”), but with the colonial legacy, it was probably wise to keep him locked for now while they decide what do with him.

        Comment by MP — June 12, 2020 @ 2:12 pm

  3. What if, upon discovery of such horrible historical things of our elders, we renamed these troublesome monuments after Trump, instead?

    The Trump Tube?

    Comment by Bart — June 12, 2020 @ 10:10 am

    • That would be an insult to people like my 98 year old Grandmother, who’s husband- My Grandfather fought in WW2 in Europe against a nation led by someone who is very reminiscent to Trump and whom she absolutely despises. Listen to the people who went through this before. Obviously we have forgotten those lessons.

      Comment by john doe — June 12, 2020 @ 12:10 pm

      • Local Dumbass Never Trumper Has No Idea How Closely He Resembles MAGA Morons

        Comment by The Onion — June 12, 2020 @ 12:26 pm

    • Happy Birthday, Donald J. Trump. In case you didn’t know: He is the President of the United States of America. He is your President.

      Comment by Bart — June 14, 2020 @ 7:58 am

      • Always find it hilarious when people like you say things like that… ” He’s you’re president”. Using it as if its some sort of threat. That or its more or less a full admittance that you too realize what a flaming piece of donkey shit the man really is. He’s no president my friend. He’s an imposter who just so happens to inhabit the white house. In order to be a president one has to actually respect, honor, and fulfill that duty to the office. Since Trump does none of those things he’s simply as mentioned- an imposter. Oh- BTW, looks like your dear leader was having some issues walking and holding a glass of water the other day…. taking all that hydroxychloroquine is having some side effects.

        Comment by john doe — June 15, 2020 @ 9:20 am

  4. When the park is liberated and renamed, nothing will happen and no one will stop them.

    I just watched a Netflix special on the 1960 Greensboro Four-AA college students who bravely sat down at an all-White lunch counter to break the color barrier. In personal interviews they described how their legs were shaking, bomb threats were called in, their families were threatened, and police officers circled them menacingly with billy clubs. We’ve all seen the famous photos of white students dumping mustard, catsup and sugar on the heads of the protestors while they sat their passively. They all acknowledged the risks to themselves and their families, but nevertheless went forward. And it struck me what is missing in these current protests. There is nothing at stake. The protestors risk nothing. Students can walk out of school to protest. No one is marked absent. The school staff joins with them. Even if you arrested you won’t be prosecuted, there is no bail, and President Trump is unlikely to call in an air strike on Jackson Park after it is liberated. It’s a no risk revolution.

    But would it be possible for Nancy Pelosi to come to the rededication, kneel, and wear that cool Kente Cloth, or would that be considered cultural appropriation, and meaningless virtue signaling?

    Comment by Nowyouknow — June 12, 2020 @ 10:24 am

  5. You must be referring to the 700 police officers injured or killed so far in the riots. One demonstrator was injured when a statue he was pulling down fell on him.

    Comment by Nowyouknow — June 12, 2020 @ 1:14 pm

    • Don’t you have better things to do? Like praise your dear leader? Seriously. Go away. Nobody here likes the Offal you post.

      Comment by john doe — June 12, 2020 @ 3:57 pm

  6. I’ve been chatting with some neighbors here on Calhoun Street and started an online petition to bring its name to the Planning Commission. If you live in Alameda, please consider signing:

    For what it’s worth, when we moved to Calhoun Street last year, we were put off by the name. I emailed the City Manager’s office to ask about the process for re-evaluating street names, but never got a response. Let’s just say the last few weeks have provided enough motivation to read through the city policies and find the relevant process:

    Comment by Drew DA — June 26, 2020 @ 3:30 pm

    • Haight Ave needs to be added as well. Any effort to rename streets should include these two, Calhoun and Haight. It’s sort of mind-boggling that Haight Ave should still stand after the school has been renamed. That’s a bell you can’t unring, folks.

      Comment by Jrb — June 29, 2020 @ 9:16 am

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