Renaming is not about erasing history

 

Editor:
Recently a community member chided the Haight Renaming Committee as being “bereft of common sense” (“Bereft of common sense,” Sept. 13). I agree that Alameda should rename Haight Elementary School, but I also want to honor the legacy of the children that went to school there.

I am a third-generation Alamedan. My great-grandparents Davis and Lizzie Sloan migrated from South Carolina in 1892 and were one of the early Black families here. My mom, my six siblings and I all attended Haight School. I graduated from Haight in 1972, but I never knew about the hateful legacy of our school’s namesake until this year. I will say though that as a child, I never liked saying “Hate” School. I loved my experience at Haight Elementary School, from kindergarten to eighth grade.

Renaming Haight is not about “erasing history.” This is a chance for Alameda to reckon with history and honor our greatest values. Honoring former Haight students and staff is not about preserving the heritage of Henry Huntly Haight, the man. We want to acknowledge our memories and the lifelong friendships we forged at our school. We want to honor the legacy of the diverse families like mine that benefited from educational opportunities at the school. 

By collecting memorabilia from people like me, we can reconnect with our school community there today, and help reclaim our school from Haight’s racist legacy. Displaying the history of our school will make sure current and future students will both know the history and see themselves as part of the legacy we are all creating together.
I’ll be submitting the name of Sloan Elementary School.

 

Sandi Thomas Haight Renaming Committee member