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San Francisco: Washington, Lincoln, Feinstein were racists. People will pay $400,000 for that

Christian Fernsby |
San Francisco will rename 44 schools, including campuses named after former presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

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The near-unanimous Monday vote by the San Francisco Board of Education, with only one dissenter, comes after years of debate over the reckoning of historical figures and their contentious, flawed legacies.

“It’s a message to our families, our students and our community,” board member Mark Sanchez said in the meeting, per the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s not just symbolic.”

The new namesakes for the schools must adhere to a new set of guidelines, including that individuals honored by a renaming are not slave owners or abetted in slavery or genocide, attached to human rights violations, or are "known racists and/or white supremacists."

Washington and Jefferson, for instance, were slaveowners, while former San Francisco mayor Feinstein was listed after reportedly reinstating Confederate flags by City Hall in the '80s. Lincoln, widely revered for his issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation, was chosen based on "his treatment of First Nation peoples," first-grade teacher Jeremiah Jeffries told the Chronicle in a widely circulated December quote.

Some other namesakes' legacies, such as Junipero Serra, Jose Ortega and Vasco Nunez de Balboa, were based on colonization and abuses of indigenous people.

Other historical figures yanked from school buildings include Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere and author Robert Louis Stevenson.

Schools have until April to determine the new names for their campuses, per KNTV-TV, which will then be voted on by board members.

Replacing signage, sports uniforms and gym floors in schools is expected to cost more than $400,000 — sparking criticism that the board should instead be focused on reopening during the coronavirus pandemic, according to FOX News.

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