The president of the San Francisco Board of Education wants “Washington” and “Jefferson” banned as school names, because the American Founders had slaves.
“We should rename Washington High School after San Francisco native, poet and author Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou High School. No schools named after slave owners,” Matt Haney wrote on his Twitter account Sunday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
However, the idea of erasing from history the man whose face is on the quarter and the dollar bill and whose name graces the nation’s capital, a state, counties, lakes and towns distorts history.
WND reported Joshua Charles, a WND columnist and author of “Liberty’s Secrets: The Lost Wisdom of America’s Founders,” documented that Washington worked against slavery for much of his life.
“Washington freed his slaves at his death,” Charles explained at the time. “Washington not only freed them, but in his will, he provided that his estate would pay for their food, for their clothing, especially for the elderly and the younger. He provided for his estate to pay for their education, to teach them useful skills so they could be useful in the world.
“Most people have no idea about that.”
The Times report said Haney “got the idea Sunday after listening to a sermon by Rev. Amos Brown at San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church. Brown spoke of Francis Scott Key, who wrote the lyrics of the Star-Spangled Banner, and of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand when it was played during two NFL preseason games.”
The report said Haney cited references to schools in San Francisco named after Key and other figures who were slave owners.
Haney even noted his local school has a mural of Washington with slaves, even though thousands of blacks have graduated from the school.
The Times reported Haney said in a telephone interview his concern is much broader, insisting anyone with a questionable human rights record should not be honored.
In recent months there has been considerable controversy over names, monuments and recognition of historical figures whose lives clash with today’s politically correct culture.
For example, statues and other recognition of Confederate leaders have come under fire, including in Houston where schools were renamed.
The Times said Long Beach, California, also had a discussion about renaming a Robert E. Lee school.
WND reported last year that officials at Princeton University agreed to consider erasing former President Woodrow Wilson’s legacy at the school.
Demonstrators calling him a racist demanded the removal of a mural depicting Wilson and the renaming of Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Charles issued a word of caution.
“To complain about the Founders in this way is to do so in a very ignorant way about human nature,” said Charles. “It’s easy for all of us in this generation to say slavery was a moral evil. But we didn’t earn that; we grew up into a world where that was already true.
“And if we’re going to be honest with ourselves, if we were similarly situated in the 18th century, a lot of people think, ‘Well, I would have thought this. I would have thought slavery was evil.’ I’m like, ‘Really? I don’t know myself enough to be absolutely sure of that.'”
He explained slave labor was an integral part of life for many wealthy landowners, including Washington and Jefferson, who were born into slave-owning families and inherited slaves as young men. That doesn’t make slavery right, according to Charles, but it does put their slaveholding in perspective.
“[In] the world we were born into, that moral victory had already been won,” he said. “At this point, that moral victory had not [yet] been won.”
Following a mass shooting at a historically black church, students at the University of Texas petitioned to remove a George Washington statue and memorials to other Founders because of their ownership of slaves.
In subsequent months, Democratic Party officials in Iowa, Missouri, Georgia and Connecticut have renamed their annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners because of Jefferson’s slave ownership and Andrew Jackson’s brutal relocation of Native Americans.
CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield even broached the subject of whether the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., should come down because Jefferson owned slaves.