Officials at Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo and the Tamalpais Union High School District have begun to cover and remove the high school’s name and symbols after deciding to rename the high school.
In a statement, the Sir Francis Drake High School administration said that its goal is for the school to become more anti-racist, and to foster a safe and healthy learning environment for students.
The high school administration further emphasized its recognition that the name Sir Francis Drake and the school’s Pirates mascot do not align with the school’s values, due to Sir Francis Drake having been a prominent slave trader and slave owner during his lifetime.
The announcement comes as a Sir Francis Drake statue in Larkspur, also in Marin County, was removed early Wednesday ahead of a protest planned for Thursday to call for the statue’s removal.
Larkspur’s city manager said plans for the statue will be discussed at a City Council meeting Aug. 5. A series of events are also planned next month to discuss the fate of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, which runs through much of Marin County.
As for Sir Francis Drake High School, the school’s Site Leadership Council will recommend names to the school district Board of Trustees, who will then approve a new name with the help and input of the community.
Community input sessions are scheduled on Aug. 12 and 25, and Sept. 8. All notes and recordings will also be published online.
Meanwhile, all symbols associated with the current school name are being removed or covered.
According to Central Marin police, several calls were made by community members reporting the removal or covering activities as vandalism at the school. The police reassured community members that the activities are authorized and organized by the high school and TUHSD.
In the statement released by the high school, staff stated:
“We recognize that a performative act of a simple name change is not enough.”
“By supporting this action, we are not seeking to erase our history but to acknowledge the deep racist roots of that history. Our responsibility will then be to dedicate time and work to build a truly anti-racist school culture. We hope that our new name will emerge from this reflective journey.”