Remember two and a half years ago when students at a small Pennsylvania college demanded the name “Lynch” be removed from a campus building … because of its racial connotations?
Those students’ efforts proved unsuccessful; however, their inanity has spread some 3,000 miles west as an Oregon school district is following their example.
The Centennial School District in southeast Portland will be excising “Lynch” from three schools before the beginning of this school year: Lynch Meadows, Lynch Wood, and Lynch View elementary schools.
According to The Oregonian, the schools were named for the family which originally had donated land for the schools over a century ago, but Superintendent Paul Coakley says “many newer families coming into the district associate the name with America’s violent racial history.”
“There were an increasing amount of questions and some complaints from families of color around the name,” Coakley said. Although “there is no connection between the Lynch family and the practice associated with the term,” he said the name has still “been a disruption for some students.”
“Our diversity is increasing every year, with families coming in from Northeast Portland and out of state, so [the names] needed to be looked at,” said Coakley, who is African-American and grew up in the area.
Members of the mostly-white Centennial School Board agreed, coming to a consensus that the names should be changed at a board meeting in mid-July. They plan to pass a resolution officially discontinuing the use of “Lynch” on the schools’ signs, stationary, web sites and in oral references at their next board meeting on August 9. …
Discontinuing use of that portion of the schools’ names is a minor step to ensure “that everybody feels like they belong to this district, and that we can put this potential negative behind us,” [Board Vice Chair Pam Shields] said.
If the resolution passes, the district would aim to change the signage at the three schools before the academic year begins, which Coakley estimated would cost around $2,000. The schools have already been operating unofficially as Meadows, Wood and View, according to Coakley, so the change wouldn’t be much of a surprise to school faculty, staff and families, he said.
The recommendation Coakley presented to the board last week called for legally retaining the names of the three schools and using Meadows, Wood and View Elementary School “for all public purposes.” But the board discussed the prospect of changing names legally as well.
Coakley feels there will be little opposition to the changes: “If anything, he said, people will be relieved.” Board chair Shar Giard agreed, saying there’s “probably going to be a loud roar of agreement.”
Based on the tone of the article’s comments, however, those predictions might be premature. One person suggested that, if the schools do change their names, the moniker of the state’s Mt. Hood be revised : “When I look up at Mt Hood, I see a KKK hood! *triggered*”
UPDATE: Per KPTV, the district will officially change Lynch View Elementary to Patrick Lynch Elementary, while Lynch Meadows and Lynch Wood elementary schools will merely omit “Lynch” from their names until new, permanent, monikers are chosen.
IMAGE: Chisel Wright/Flickr