Alameda’s first city park will no longer be named after President Andrew Jackson. The Alameda City Council voted Tuesday night to “de-name” Jackson Park because of his legacy of slavery and atrocities against Native Americans.
The unanimous vote followed a recommendation from the city’s Park and Recreation Commission to immediately remove Jackson Park signage and begin the process for renaming the open space on Encinal Avenue. An appointed community group will be tasked with choosing a new name, the council also decided.
Created in 1895 as the city’s first public park, it was originally named Alameda Park. After three new parks were built in 1909, the city decided to name each space after American presidents.
But as the entire nation is quickly re-evaluating its history regarding race and equity, and the falling of some monuments, Alameda is no different. Led by community members, including Alameda native and author Rasheed Shabazz, the days of Jackson’s name affixed to a public space appeared numbered.
In addition, other parks and streets in Alameda may also soon be up discussion for name-changes, including one park named after former Alameda Mayor Milton Godfrey, who openly advocated in the 1940s for blocking blacks from living on the island.
Alameda elected officials appeared reluctant to support a proposal to change Jackson Park’s name back to its original moniker. Another idea is to rename it Justice Park. Councilmember Malia Vella, however, said she believes the name should honor minorities and women, groups with few monuments and parks named in their honor.
“This is way beyond time for this to happen,” Councilmember Jim Oddie said of the de-naming. “If I wasn’t on council, I would have probably taken a chainsaw to it,” he added.
“I’ve got a large saw,” Councilmember John Knox White responded.
Nonetheless, the Jackson Park signage will not come down that quickly. “It’s not coming down tomorrow,” said Amy Woolridge, Alameda Recreation and Parks director, That’s because it’s not actually made of wood, but concrete, and will take time for workers to dismantle.