How much longer will our society recognize Presidents Day? Recently, the monuments and statues of many historical figures have been targeted. Now, the San Francisco school board is working on the schools. More than 40 schools named after presidents and other historical figures will be renamed. According to SFGate, the board created new guidelines, now barring people who owned slaves, who were attached to slavery, genocide and/or human rights violations or are “known racists and/or white supremacists.” Here are three presidents who no longer will have their names on San Francisco schools.
“Honest Abe” is widely revered for many reasons. Just pick one: the Civil War, the Gettysburg Address or the Emancipation Proclamation. But his “treatment of First Nation peoples” got him booted. According to History.com, in 1862, more than 300 Santee Sioux were found guilty of raping and murdering settlers. They were sentenced to death, and 38 of them were hanged.
Presidents Day started in honor of our first commander-in-chief’s birthday. As the New York Post recounted, Washington is revered for many reasons: helping the colonies break away from a monarchy, establishing the army, pioneering the government of the newly United States and creating term limits by refusing a third term. The committee’s spreadsheet states that Washinton’s name should be removed because he was a slave owner and colonizer. In his will, Washington ordered that all of his slaves be freed. Is that enough?
Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, which set forth our republic’s ideals as we know them. He has his place on many monuments and the nickel. He also owned slaves, which is why San Francisco schools no longer will carry his name. This is not the only time Jefferson’s legacy has been questioned, as the Jefferson memorial in D.C. is highly contentious, too.
Where will we be by next Presidents Day?
The committee was formed in 2018, in the wake of Charlottesville, and members believe that their mission is sending a “moral message” to their families, students and communities. Keep an eye on this topic because presidents are interwoven in the fabric of history: museums, monuments, schools, government buildings and much more. The questions will still arise. Do past presidents need to be perfect? How far will we go to wipe them from our history and future? Where will we be by next Presidents Day?