173. McKinleyville name change? | A new trail | The color orange | Patrick Star | “All Star”

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Where Arcata's McKinley statue once stood, photo by Myles Cochrane
In the latest episode of Humboldt Last Week (7:57)

Recently, California Governor Gavin Newsom expressed his support of allowing residents of Fort Bragg to vote on renaming their city due to the moniker’s association with a slave owner, causing listeners to ask if McKinleyville residents would consider something similar over the controversial nature of their own namesake.

A little under six miles from McKinleyville, at the direction of voters in 2019 the City of Arcata removed their historic statue of U.S. President William McKinley which had previously stood in the college town’s plaza for roughly 113 years. McKinley was the 25th president from 1897 until his assassination in 1901.

“McKinley represents the belief in Manifest Destiny that was used to justify the dispossession, enslavement, and genocide of the Indigenous Peoples of this continent and abroad,” partially reads the official argument from those who were successful in their plight to take the statue down.

“McKinley was a dedicated abolitionist and enlisted in the Union Army to fight slavery,” partially reads the official argument from those who’d hoped the statue would remain on the plaza. “He was the last Civil War veteran to serve as President, a strong advocate for the voting rights of black citizens and appointed many Blacks to federal positions.”

William McKinley and a photo by Myles Cochrane of McKinleyville's welcome sign
The municipality of McKinleyville, which hosts around 15,000  residents, is currently served by the County of Humboldt and the McKinleyville Community Services District. The county is currently gathering data to assess the financials of possibly designating McKinleyville as a city, reports the Times-Standard.

“As far as renaming McKinleyville, the Board largely reserves their efforts to focus on our Mission which is to: Provide McKinleyville with safe and reliable water, wastewater, lighting, open space, parks and recreation, and library services in an environmentally and fiscally responsible manner,” said McKinleyville Community Services District General Manager Patrick Kaspari.

“I will support what the residents of McKinleyville want,” said Humboldt County Supervisor Steve Madrone, who represents McKinleville’s district. “It’s their town. I live in ‘TrinHaven.’ I would like to see the name change from this guy, Mr. Manifest Destiny.”

“Every community should take this moment to reflect on the messages we send, intentionally or not, with not just our laws and policies, but with symbols, monuments and place names,” said U.S. Congressman Jared Huffman, who represents McKinleyville at the federal level. “This isn’t a one size fits all question – each community, and each of these situations, should be thoughtfully considered in context.”

Either way, McKinleyville will likely never be renamed unless an organized effort and voters make it so.

Residents of McKinleyville, your turn to weigh in: Following last year’s removal of the McKinley statue nearby and the current consideration of renaming Fort Bragg, would you vote in favor of renaming your community back to Dows Prairie, Minorsville, something the Wiyot and Yurok people once called it, or something else different? Why or why not?

Also in Episode 173

A new trail, an “All Star,” SpongeBob, dreamers, the color orange, a hall-of-famer home, remembrance, burgers, new music, and more.

Humboldt Last Week episode partners: North Coast Co-op, STIL, Brick & Fire Bistro, Bongo Boy Studio, Photography by Shi

[Humboldt Last Week is available via Apple, Spotify, major podcast networks, KJNY-FM Mondays, NCJ online, RHBB, and humboldtlastweek.com -MC]