According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Jerry Garcia is on a shortlist of new names under consideration for San Francisco public schools. This decision comes as the city plans to rename up to a third of its schools.
A measure was passed by the San Francisco School Board on January 26th which would allow the city to rename 44 institutions to “reconsider the country’s racist past and remove the names of slave owners and colonizers.” These include current learning facilities named after former President Thomas Jefferson, who owned slaves, as well as former San Francisco Mayor Adolph Sutro, a segregationist.
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A native of the Excelsior District of San Francisco, Garcia was one of many people responsible for helping make the city a focal point of the countercultural movement in the 1960s alongside his Grateful Dead bandmates. The city of San Francisco has long embraced the history of the Grateful Dead and the greater psychedelic movement, with the band’s former house at 710 Ashbury Street serving as a popular tourist trap for legions of fans. Also on the shortlist of new names for San Francisco schools are former President Barack Obama, poet Maya Angelou, and other more non-California natives.
“This is an opportunity for our students to learn about the history of the names of our school, including potential new ones,” said school board president Gabriela López in a press release. “This resolution got through to the school board after the attacks in Charlottesville, and we are working with the rest of the country to dismantle symbols of racism and white supremacy. I am looking forward to the ideas that the schools will bring in.”
This progressive thinking on behalf of the city comes following a summer during which the music industry also examined its role in promoting historical figures and eras that denigrated minorities. These included high-profile name changes by The Chicks, formerly known as the Dixie Chicks, and Lady A, formerly known as Lady Antebellum.
The latter name change, however, created more problems than it fixed, exposing the pitfalls of bandwagon do-gooders attempting to blindly erase past mistakes: What the group formerly known as Lady Antebellum did not recognize was that there already was a Lady A, born Anita White, who a Black artist who had sung the blues for decades under that name in her native Seattle and around the country. The two parties are now involved in a legal dispute to decide who is the real Lady A. Though the spat faded from the headlines after summer passed, Lady A (the singer) revived the attention once again with her powerful new anthem, “My Name Is All I Got“, last month.
Head over to the San Francisco Chronicle to read the full story.