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  • San Francisco's city council unanimously voted to rename a street after Kahlo.

    San Francisco's city council unanimously voted to rename a street after Kahlo. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 December 2018
Opinion

Before becoming Frida Kahlo Way, the street was named after a former racist mayor.

San Francisco officials have changed the name of Phelan Avenue near the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) to Frida Kahlo Way commemorating the famed Mexican artists during a Friday ceremony when the street sign was unveiled.

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The street previously bore the name of James Phelan, father of a 19th century San Francisco mayor James D. Phelan.

City College staff and students, along with San Francisco city council member Norman Yee began the petition this year to remove the Phelan family name from the street owing to the former mayor’s racist politics. James D. once ran under the campaign slogan, “Keep California White,” with the intent to keep out Asian immigrants from the Bay Area.

As Yee pointed out at city hearings this year, Phelan would have tried to drive out many CCSF students who are immigrants and children of immigrants, from California.

City Hall lawmakers agreed, voting 11-0 in favor of the name change to Frida Kahlo, painter and longtime member of Mexico's communist party.

“As a community, we need to reckon with the racist legacy of our country’s past and rewrite our future,” said Yee in a statement.

Yee added: “Since (Donald) Trump was elected, his administration has been spewing racist and anti-immigrant policies.”

“San Francisco, a city that prides itself on inclusion, tolerance, and respect, will not tolerate racism,” the council member said.

Per city law, the signs still feature the former street name (in smaller text) for at least five years to minimize confusion.

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