500 signatures reached
To: Orange County Officials
Orange County’s Tributes to KKK Members and the Confederacy Must Go
Rename all the streets, parks, buildings, and other landmarks named after Ku Klux Klan members.
Why is this important?
The images of mostly young white men chanting nazi slogans while carrying torches through the University of Virginia, and the violent Unite the Right display that resulted in the death of a young woman and injury of many others are hard to watch.
They are shocking, and at the same time not at all shocking in a country that has refused to meaningfully confront its legacy of slavery and legalized racism. Less so when we realize that that legacy has not only not been confronted but is still downright celebrated in the forms of Confederate monuments like the statue of Robert E. Lee that served as this weekend’s point of convergence for White Supremacists.
There were many takeaways from the events in Charlottesville along with difficult questions to grapple with.
Watching from Orange County I couldn’t help but focus on that statue of Robert E. Lee that the Nazis of Unite the Right sought to defend from a growing consensus to remove tributes to the Confederacy, and I couldn’t help but think of the various streets, buildings, and landmarks in our County named after KKK members.
Landmarks like Fanning Elementary, named after William E. Fanning, a Brea pioneer, teacher and Klan member. As well as Lowell Street in Santa Ana, named after Joseph Lowell, a Santa Ana farmer and Klan member.
For more thorough list of these check out Gustavo Arellano’s award winning series, “OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members” and his 2013 feature, “Welcome to Ku Klux Kounty!”.
For decades Orange County’s leaders and residents have refused to own up to the Klan’s legacy and influence in county politics. Rather than acknowledge this side of history, and take appropriate steps to address it they have responded with collective denial and anger at those exposing our county’s dark roots.
But as communities across the South undergo another confrontation with their history, and take further steps to stop romanticizing their racist forefathers, it is important that Orange County not stay behind and wallow in a sea of denial. Lexington’s mayor, residents in Durham, North Carolina, and other cities across the country have made the move to acknowledge the vileness of the Confederacy and the racist symbols by removing the landmarks built to honor them and put in their place something that upholds our greater values.
The country is in a moment of reeling after watching civil rights protesters run down by nazis. Orange County residents shouldn’t also have to face the symbols those white supremacists rallied to celebrate.
We should replace them.
1. Welcome to Ku Klux Kounty!: http://www.ocweekly.com/news/welcome-to-ku-klux-kounty-6425325
2. OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members: http://www.ocweekly.com/news/announcing-the-which-oc-pioneers-were-kkk-members-series-6444018
3. Lexington Mayor Announces All Confederate Statues Are Coming Down: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/8/13/1689254/-Lexington-KY-mayor-announces-all-Confederate-statues-are-coming-down-because-of-Charlottesville
4. Demonstrators Pull Down Confederate Monument in Durham: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/demonstrators-durham-confederate-statue_us_59923254e4b08a247276c9bf?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009