CALIFORNIA — State officials announced Friday that it was time to reconsider discriminatory names of California State Park features and transportation systems. State agencies said they will also expand representation of marginalized communities and increase transparency surrounding changes made to the geographic names in California.
California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot, State Parks Director Armando Quintero and Department of Transportation Director Toks Omishakin made the announcement Friday and will collaborate on the steps to redressing and renaming discriminatory placards around the state.
“It is past time to revisit historic names that stem from a dark legacy that includes discrimination, violence and inequity,” Crowfoot said in a statement.
The news follows a years long conversation about the names of national monuments, geographic markers and transportation names associated with the Civil War, the genocide of Native Americans and other leftover remnants of institutional racism.
As a first step in this process, Gov. Gavin Newsom moved to proclaim Sept. 25 as Native American Day.
The urgency to rid the state of such names increased following the massive wave of Black Lives Matter protests, which have kept protestors on the ground marching since George Floyd’s death at the knee of a police officer on May 25.
“Recent protests over racial inequality have spurred a national conversation about institutional and systemic racism in the United States. That conversation includes a new reckoning over monuments, symbols and names found in our public spaces,” Crowfoot said. “We are committed to continuing this dialogue in an open and transparent way.”
The state’s Parks and Recreation agency has started a list of racist markers and features around the state, according to the announcement, and will begin consulting California Native American tribes to update signage, exhibits and provide access to educational materials for student programs.
“This is a generational moment that calls for the California Department of Parks and Recreation to take stock of and critically examine our state’s historical legacy,” Quintero said. “We want every Californian, whether they are first generation or the 500th generation, to feel welcome in parks and see stories shared by all voices.”
Crowfoot said he plans to direct the state’s Natural Resources Agency to select more members from the following agencies: The Native American Heritage Commission, California State Library, California African American Museum and California Department of Transportation, as well as the legislative Selective Committee on Native American Affairs and Black, Latino and Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucuses.
Cal Trans also rolled out plans to review and redress locations within the state’s transportation system.
“Transportation is meant to bring people together, bridge divides, cross immovable boundaries and connect people from all walks of life,” Omishakin said in the statement.