SF Mayor Breed condemns renaming schools amid calls to purge Abraham Lincoln's name

The nation's capitol, Washington, DC. A statue of President Lincoln inside the Lincoln Memorial Building. (Photo by Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images)

A San Francisco committee wants to remove Abraham Lincoln’s name from a high school for his past treatment of Native Americans as part of a recommendation the city’s mayor calls offensive for its timing during the pandemic. 

In a November meeting, the School Names Advisory Committee recommended renaming 44 schools with names of historical figures the committee finds inappropriate. Abraham Lincoln High School is one, so are schools named after George Washington and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, as first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle

Purging The Great Emancipator and 16th president came with no debate, according to Jeremiah Jeffries, a first-grade teacher and chairman of the committee. 

“The history of Lincoln and Native Americans is complicated, not nearly as well known as that of the Civil War and slavery,” Jefferies told the Chronicle. “Lincoln, like the presidents before him and most after, did not show through policy or rhetoric that Black lives ever mattered to them outside of human capital and as casualties of wealth building.”

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Since the recommendation circulated online, Republican politicians have taken shots at the progressive city. It even drew criticism from the president, who wrote on Twitter, “So ridiculous and unfair. Will people never make a stand!”

Some have taken a stand, including San Francisco Mayor London Breed. She tweeted her disapproval of the renaming efforts and called the timing “offensive” as the Bay Area remains under a mandatory stay-at-home order and public schools are closed. She said the city needs school districts to focus on how to reopen schools safely rather than rename them.

“Look, I believe in equity. It’s at the forefront of my administration and we’ve made historic investments to address the systemic racism confronting our city. But the fact that our kids aren’t in school is what’s driving inequity in our City. Not the name of a school,” Breed said in a statement. 

The committee will vote on whether to proceed with the name changes in early 2021. 

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