Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 8, 2020

Unceasing vigilance

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

Tomorrow night the Rec and Park Commission will be taking up the topic of Jackson Park and the renaming of said park.  I’ve written in the past about the stalled 2018 effort to rename Jackson Park and I’ve been trying to listen to the audio (because the minutes are really quite uninformative) to get a sense of why the 2018 effort stalled out.  I mean, it didn’t help that there were members at that time with a lot of skepticism about the renaming effort, but today the message from city staff is a lot more forthcoming about what the commission should do rather than leaving it up for a simple discussion.

But since were on the subject of tearing down monuments which has served to prop up racial inequity in Alameda (coughA/26cough), I was reminded recently of a post I had thrown up in 2016. For those that don’t want to click through, this was the featured snippet from some very old meeting minutes in 1943:

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 4.30.11 PM

I had totally forgotten and missed that someone in the comments remarked about renaming Godfrey Park.  I think I filed away the connection between the Mayor Godfrey in the minutes and Godfrey Park and the promptly forgot about it.

Just in case someone is wondering, I did do a bit of internet researching about which Mayor Godfrey the park was named after.  According to the City’s website the park was established in 1945.  In a preface to a book about W. Robert Godfrey (grandson to Mayor (Milton) Godfrey circa 1943), there is a mention about the park naming:

The scion of an influential family in Alameda, California, his father was mayor of Alameda and his grandfather was a political reformer. Godfrey Park in Alameda
is named after Bob’s grandfather.

This article about the second Mayor (William) Godfrey is confirmed in this obituary from 2004 along with the dates that Mayor Milton Godfrey held office.

But while we’re examining our problematic habit of naming everything after dead white dudes who may or may not deserve eternal reverence through memorials on public infrastructure, this seems like an ideal one to tackle either with Jackson Park or like right after that.   And this isn’t even national or state level cringe like with Henry Haight and/or Andrew Jackson.  This is our own special brand of publicly endorsed (and celebrated) exclusion that has made Alameda, Alameda.


  1. Andrew Jackson founded the Democrat Party, the party of slaveowners, secession and later Civil War, the Klan, and Jim Crow laws. Later Democrat presidents like Wilson, fired African-American government employees, and FDR put Japanese-Americans in internment camps. Truman ordered the atomic bomb to be dropped, and got us involved in the senseless Korean War. Kennedy stupidly tried to invade Cuba, and was unfaithful to his wife. LBJ escalated the Vietnam War based on a pretense while breaking up Black families with his “War on Poverty.” Clinton passed a draconian incarceration bill that resulted in substantially increasing African-American imprisonment. All of these presidents also made many positive contributions to the development of our country. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood was a proponent of eugenics, and wanted to “control” the Black population through abortion. Biden’s mentor, Robert Byrd, a WV Senator who Biden eulogized at his funeral, was a Klan member and Biden opposed forced busing to support his White constituents as pointed out by Sen. Kamala Harris in a Debate. Modern Democrats response: “so, that was a long time ago, we’ve changed, and we don’t stand for that now.”

    See how that works? No historical or even modern figure of either party can pass a modern “gotcha” test, so evaluate people by the totality of the times they lived in. America is imperfect but founded on ideals. It is up to us to strive to sometimes live up to them while remembering and constantly evaluating our past so that we can learn (not erase) it.

    Comment by Nowyouknow — July 8, 2020 @ 7:49 am

    • Actually, Imani Gandy of rewire news wrote a very extensive piece about Margaret Sanger and how folks, like yourself, use Margaret Sanger as a “reason” to take down the Planned Parenthood of today.

      If we want to keep that park named after Mayor Milton Godfrey then let’s erect a plaque next to the park name plaque with those meeting minutes prominently displayed.

      Comment by Lauren Do — July 8, 2020 @ 8:08 am

      • I think Kanye disagrees with you….

        Jonathan Swan
        Kanye West to Forbes: “Planned Parenthoods have been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the Devil’s work.”

        Comment by Nowyouknow — July 8, 2020 @ 6:51 pm

    • Just because yall heroes are racists that held people in the wake of captivity does not mean that the “leaders” others admire did the same.

      How about we name places after the ideals and not ideologues of white supremacy?

      Sounds like “Justice.” Rename Jackson Park to Justice Park.

      Comment by Rasheed Shabazz — July 8, 2020 @ 8:28 am

    • Nowyouknow – and conspicuously absent in all your heavily cherry-picked narrative are 1) the Southern Strategy of the 1960s that cause politicians to swap parties, and 2) the good things Democrats did, including the Civil Rights Act.

      Who actually does NOT meet your criteria for “evaluate people by the totality of the times they lived in”? Robert E Lee? Jefferson Davis? George Wallace? Joseph McCarthy? All of them popular during the “totality of the times they lived in,” so I assume you’d be okay with erecting monuments and parks named after them.

      Comment by JRB — July 8, 2020 @ 10:13 am

      • Republican legislators voted for the Civil Right Act in higher %’s than Democrats. Those were very different Republican and Democratic parties from those of today. The stronger correlation was region, though the Democratic president who signed was a Southerner (sort of).

        Comment by MP — July 8, 2020 @ 10:35 am

        • MP – you pretty much pointed to what triggered the Southern Strategy that caused politicians to change sides in the 1960s. In case I needed to spell it out for you – southern democrats (Dixiecrats) who were upset that LBJ, another southern Democrat, signed in the Civil Rights Act, changed party affiliations in protest. Look at Strom Thurmond – famous democratic segregationist who changed parties after the Civil Rights Act and died a proud Republican.

          Comment by JRB — July 8, 2020 @ 2:53 pm

        • JRB –

          Yes, I know the Democratic party, my party, paid a big price in the South (or shed of the part of it that was a burden) for its association with the civil rights of African Americans, but thank you for spelling that out part of history. When you say, “the good things Democrats did, including the Civil Rights Act”, I thought it was appropriate to include something about the bipartisan nature of its passage in 1964 (without which it would not have passed or even overcome filibuster) and to lament its absence today, without assuming you meant to leave that part out.

          Comment by MP — July 8, 2020 @ 4:06 pm

        • The Democratic/Republican split you cite is a common over simplification. The main factor of support was the region of the country from which the Senator/Representative was from. For example, Democrats from the former Confederate states voted 8-83 (for-against) the Civil Rights Act and Republicans from those states voted 0-11. Looking at the other side, Northern Democrats voted 144-8 in favor, Northern Republicans voted 137-24.

          Democrats always supported civil rights more than Republicans,’but it wasn’t such a chasm as we have now. When the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts passed, all the Southern Democrats became Republicans.

          Comment by Larry Witte — July 8, 2020 @ 9:50 pm

        • That’s what I meant when I said “The stronger correlation was region”. It may be an oversimplification to say that “all” Southern Democrats (defined here as those who opposed the Civil Rights Act) became Republicans after the Civil Rights Act passed. Not all did. John Stennis, Russell Long, Herman Talmadge, Zell Miller, all of whom either voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act or, in Miller’s case, worked for an avowed segregationist in the 1960’s, and served in the Senate at least into the 1980’s (some later) as Democrats, and never changed parties. Some would later express more support for civil rights. Maybe exceptions that prove the rule, but several had reasons for remaining in the Democratic Party – at a time when most eventually left – that went beyond mere Solid South tradition. Russell Long – like his more famous father, Huey – was a supporter of redistributive policies and helped passage of Great Society programs and Medicare. Zell Miller (who served as Lester Maddux’s Chief of Staff when he was Ga. governor, put it this way: “I know what Dan Quayle means when he says it’s best for children to have two parents. You bet it is! And it would be nice for them to have trust funds, too. We can’t all be born rich and handsome and lucky. And that’s why we have a Democratic Party. My family would still be isolated and destitute if we had not had F.D.R.’s Democratic brand of government. I made it because Franklin Delano Roosevelt energized this nation. I made it because Harry Truman fought for working families like mine. I made it because John Kennedy’s rising tide lifted even our tiny boat. I made it because Lyndon Johnson showed America that people who were born poor didn’t have to die poor. And I made it because a man with whom I served in the Georgia Senate, a man named Jimmy Carter, brought honesty and decency and integrity to public service.[18]”

          Comment by MP — July 8, 2020 @ 11:18 pm

    • What it boils down to is that your beloved GOP is NOW the shitty racist party. What are people like YOU going to do to change that? Because the ball is in your court.

      Comment by john doe — July 8, 2020 @ 5:49 pm

    • Republicans gave up on any pretense of racial justice with the Compromise of 1876. They totally abandoned all interest in equality when they ceded the South to the KKK, and have never lifted a finger to fight racism. Now the GOP stokes racism, and you’ve found a home with them. I was born in the year of the Civil Rights Act, passed under a Democratic President. Democrats have been the party of racial inclusion and equal opportunity since then.

      Comment by Larry Witte — July 8, 2020 @ 9:37 pm

  2. I agree with Rasheed. Why do we even name public places after people at all? Seems like nothing but ego, vanity and legacy, etc. at best. All, stupid reasons, IMO. If you want to build your own private building and name it after yourself, fine. Not for public spaces or places though.

    Comment by bjsvec — July 8, 2020 @ 10:45 am

  3. I’m with Rasheed and bjsvec, let’s just quit naming things after people. maybe we can name a statue for nowyouknow, we could call it ‘white supremacy”

    Comment by trumpisaracist — July 8, 2020 @ 1:22 pm

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