Effort launched to rename Julius Kahn Playground due to his racist history

Julius Kahn Playground is one of San Francisco's iconic public parks. And this history of the man in which it is named after has driven Asian American leaders to launch an effort to change the park’s name. 

With its commanding view of the Golden Gate, it's a favorite among locals but few know about the man, Julius Kahn.

"He said that Chinese are the ‘most morally debased people on the face of the Earth.' That Chinese resorted to duplicity and trickery to circumvent our laws,’" said San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim.

Leaders from a coalition of Asian American and other community groups today opened the dialogue, asking the public safety and neighborhood services committee to consider the name change.

Organizers say that, as a lawmaker, Kahn actively supported the Chinese Exclusion Act, aimed at keeping Chinese immigrants out of the country and used ugly racial stereotypes to support that ban.

Already five of the city's supervisors have signed on to change the park's name, putting it in a broader context, saying particularly now, words matter. 

"Especially when our immigrant populations all over have come under attack by the Trump administration, it’s even so much more important that we do this here, in San Francisco, because here in San Francisco we have values," said San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer.

Those using the park today say after learning Julius Kahn's back story agreed that it's time to change the park's name. "Now that I do know his name, and what he did, it's a good idea to get rid of the name of the park," said Sam Frishman.

The committee will recommend to the entire board to change the park's name.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to agree, and instruct the city's recreation and parks department to seek public input about a new name in the next three or four months.

Julius Kahn park could have a new name as early as October or November of this year.