Here is your opportunity to share your own comments on the proposed Monroe School Name Change.
To: John.Brodrick@spps.org Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org Jul 7 at 2:44 PM Dear School Board Member John Brodrick, My name is Gary Thompson, a 1962 graduate from Monroe High School, and I am writing you to support keeping the name Monroe on our great school building. I attended Macalester College, graduated from the U. of M. in Sociology and Economics, served in the USAF during the Vietnam Era, then marched on Washington against the war, was a VISTA volunteer in Cleveland's inner city, and retired from the State of Minnesota, Dept of Employment and Economic Development. I also have been a life long Democrat and voted for you on the School Board. President James Monroe was the fifth president of the U.S., served in the Revolutionary War, was a U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, and a U.S. Ambassador to France. As a diplomat, he helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase, which eventually led to Minnesota becoming a state. He created the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, which opposed European intervention in the independent countries of the Americas. During his presidency was the "Era of Good Feelings", which was a time of bipartisanship in U.S. politics. Yes, he was one of twelve presidents, who at one time owned slaves, but at that time it was legal and it was not changed until 1865, 34 years after Monroe died. He was courageous to be critical of slavery, as were many these presidents. The 12 presidents included Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Jackson. Should we eradicate all of their names from schools named after them? Whitewashing history will not solve our problems in today's society. President Monroe's accomplishments should be taught in history as well as his short-comings, especially to Monroe school students. Many historians have concurred that He was a well above average president. I am very happy to say that I am a graduate of Monroe H.S. Sincerely, Gary Thompson
Hello Everyone, Joan Perozino here, I am a retired Saint Paul Public School elementary teacher, 1970 Monroe High School Alumni, and I believe in change. I can still keep all the memories of the Green Wave in my heart and all my memories of Monroe there. Changing the names of historical figures who owned slaves, or committed human rights violations is a step forward to choose a course for the future that invites recognizing people who devoted their lives to positive acts to improve human society. Let freedom ring, the freedom to let go and let change happen!
Some thoughts on why Monroe School should NOT be renamed... Who among us does not have something in our past that we would prefer our acquaintances and friends not use as the sole basis of assessing our worth as a human being? James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States, was a man of many accomplishments--many of which were critical to making our country what it is today. He served as a soldier in the American Revolutionary War and was wounded in the Battle of Trenton; he was instrumental in negotiating the Louisiana Purchase, adding 828,000 square miles to the United States; and he served as Secretary of State and Secretary of War under President James Madison during the War of 1812, which finalized our independence from Great Britain. As President, he concluded treaties which extend the reach of the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific and he promulgated the Monroe Doctrine, stopping any further European colonization efforts in North or South America. Castigating James Monroe for the moral values of his time is absurd, an egregious example of presentism, insisting on applying modern values and concepts to past people and events. Moreover, there is risk in expunging references to historical realities. As Winston Churchill said, "Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Renaming because of someone's discomfort is a slippery slope--where does it stop? Four of our first five Presidents owned slaves: Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe. Should Washington, D.C., Washington State, Washington High School in Minneapolis, Jefferson Avenue in Saint Paul (which runs a few blocks from Monroe School), Jefferson City, Missouri (that state's capitol city), Madison, Wisconsin (that state's capitol city), and many more all be renamed? What about our currency? Should Washington be removed from the quarter and one-dollar bill? Should Jefferson be removed from the nickel and the two-dollar bill? Should Madison be removed from the $5000 bill? Thinking that a name change will improve the academic achievement of African American children is like putting frosting on cardboard and believing that it is cake. Just a few of the problems that need addressing first are: • Parenting - If parents do not value education and communicate this to their children, no name change is going to cause their children to value education. • Role Models - African Americans have achieved success in many areas (not just sports). Children need to be taught about these people. Justices Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court and inventors George Washington Carver and Lewis Howard Latimer are just a few examples. • Peer Pressure - As long as it is "too white to study", there will be underperformance among African American children.
Time to stop this PC history revisionism. While this small group has a right to their opinion,it is also our right to oppose this. When a few can rule over the majority,freedom as a whole is in danger.Since we do not live in a pure democracy but is a representative republic,we use due process to appeal to our elected representatives. This case being the school board officials. This is part of the checks and balances built into our system. The tail wagging the dog crowd maybe needs to re enroll at MONROE for some refresher govt classes. I trust the elected reps will display the appropriate common sense in any decisions. If PC is allowed to persist, our system will erode and eventually perish.
There were 12 US presidents who had slaves. By the standards of our time this is wrong. By the standards of their time it was considered to be normal in most of the southern states. This is part of history. It does nothing to negate the fact that these presidents served in that office and did the job of our president. To villify these presidents for engaging in an accepted practice of their time seems inappropriate without knowing how these slaves were treated. To say a school named after a certain president reflects that he is a bad person for engaging in a practice that was, unfortunately, accepted during their time. I attended Monroe during the time of many race riots and the assassination of Martin Luther King. There were even race riots in St. Paul. It was announced over the PA while I was in typing class that King had been killed. The school was not practicing racist activities and I don't believe they ever have. Monroe hasn't changed because someone realized that President Monroe had slaves.
One of the most overlooked benefits to our freedom of speech is it ability to open our eyes, allowing us a glimpse into the minds and hearts around us. Signs posted on the grounds of our Monroe School declaring all are welcome here are a perfect example of this point. For implicit in that declaration is the concept on non inclusion. It is a glimpse of the mind set and heart of an administration promoting such postings. It demonstrates a community disconnect and ignorance of fact that is deeply hurtful and a slap in the face to the very organizations and citizens of the west-end who for many generations have, in fact, advocated for inclusiveness and demonstrated such with support, time, money and neighborly love. Pick up and look through decades and decades of Monroe Doctrine year books for example and dare to deny the truth of this claim. Go ask the hundreds of struggling parents to whom the anonymous West-End Boys Club played a role in the lives of their children. Go tell Josephs Coats on West 7th street that our community is some how non inclusive as implicit in the Monroe signage. Go do all those things that the school administration, PTO and the school board ought to do instead of demonstrating a lack of knowledge which induces a false narrative in the minds of vulnerable children. Our Monroe Community deserves a fair and honest representation in the young minds who come here to learn. Perhaps some day they will live here and together grow with us or take with them where ever they may go, the true heart and soul that is the Monroe Community. That is to say a community where all are welcome signs have never been needed. It's just understood. Jeff Tressler, Monroe Class of 1968
So sad to hear and read about this. Even though I did not personally attend Monroe, both may parents did. As a young child and even to this day, I will look at their Doctrine Yearbooks over and over again, just trying to imagine what their life was like growing up on West 7th and attending Monroe High in the early 60’s. The below was written in their Sr. Yearbook, over the school’s symbol “the ship” on the first page: To Monroe we pledge our love and loyalty forever, Sing the praise extol thy fame where good friends get together Voices rise, spirits soar, fly our banner high! Hail Monroe we promise to thy honor glorify! In future years where’re we go our mem’ries will burn bight Of hallowed halls and high school days and graduation night Our last wish before we go when the end is nigh With honor, strength, and dignity may God bless Monroe High! Daughter of Alum, Class of 63
This is crazy. History should not be rewritten. The school never stood for slavery or was it ever taught. The only good this issue has done is to remind us that J. Monroe was the 5th President of our country. My diploma says Monroe High School and my letter jacket still has an 'M' on it. Go Green Wave
Although no longer a community school, Monroe is a school supported by a community. Rarely can an individual walk into a local restaurant, bar or other established business in our West End Community without confronting photo's, clothing paraphernalia and all sorts of mementos proudly displayed in every nook, cranny, hallway or wall. At barbecue's, booya's and numerous neighborhood gatherings, Monroe school eventually pops-up in conversation. There is this thread woven through time and by tradition, forming a strong fabric into which the Monroe school is deeply meshed. for generations it has been the heart of our west-end community. We desire nothing more than to see that thread continue weaving and growing our community fabric. We should openly welcome all new individuals, ideas and concepts to further that continued growth. This does not mean we chip away at the fabric already woven and ripping out the heart only to leave the fabric to wither and die. Loss of part of the whole renders a concept useless like the proverbial lost sock from the cloths drier. One is no good without the other. Community without roots, a center or support, in other words a heart, will be rendered useless and ineffective. Think about other communities where this has happened then weep or stand up and support what we all love about the soul of our west-end and keep its beating hear intact. BTW (by-the-way) those lost socks are never ever retrieved !
This is nothing more than another attempt to vilify an individual in the name of dividing Americans from other Americans. "Community Organizers" at work, creating hatred and chaos as it they attempt to erase history, thereby further indoctrinating our youth into thinking America is a bad place, filled with bad people with an evil history. Quite the contrary: those who condemn Monroe as a racist ALWAYS fail to realize that America was instrumental in abolishing the practice of slavery. Stop the nonsense and madness of erasing a wonderful history and legacy in the name of new political correctness.
It gives me pause when zealots of any persuasion would redefine history to suit some new perspective using a set of moral standards not relative to the base issue. Monroe obeyed the law in force. His greatness is marked by establishing the US as a world power and securing the western hemisphere from European colonialization. This was the Monroe my school was named for, not a planter who used legal, local, agricultural practice which was banned 34 years after his death. Slavery was a horrible condition, in existance since the days of Abraham. Jews, Muslims, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Modern Europeans all had slaves. Monroe must be remembed not for farming methods but as a Great President, for that was the essence of the man.
Why are we trying to change something we cannot? Changing the name of this (or other school) does not change history, it does not erase memories of a horrible past. In my entire time of attendance at Monroe I can honestly say that not once in my presence did we as students even care what the name of the school was, just that Monroe is where we went, who we represent, our pride. Not because of the Ex-President....but because it was our school. Where will it end? Changing the name will forever erase the school that I attended. - Troy Lake 1981-1986
I'm trying to wrap my arms around this profound decision of a few individuals when thousands of others have attended and graduated from this school, and no one asked for feedback from them before rushing into trying to be on the bandwagon of this heroic idea. Really? What's next? We can rename streets, throw out those offensive history books from schools, rename cities, states etc; the list goes on and on, doesn't it? I give you the benefit of my doubt. Maybe you didn't think this through or received enough feedback from all affected parties before making this decision. Not too late to rethink this decision and make a better one. Vote it down!
I, and many in my family, attended Monroe. In research, i found an entry for Monroe, circa 1900 (at Western and Goodrich). Monroe has been a part of the West 7th community for well over 100 years. Further, I have never heard it called James Monroe, and could find no reference to James Monroe school. And, to the best of my recollection, over the door was the inscription "Monroe High School". In conclusion,1) Monroe is a part of this community and the name should stand. 2) There is nothing i have ever heard, and could not find, reference to James Monroe school. Always Monroe. Sharon, class of 1961
Political Correctness run amouck one again,,,,
What a terrible idea, just like renaming Lake Calhoun. Changing the name doesn't change the past -- it masks it from our youth. Do you want future generations to not know about our countries history -- good and bad? Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. Go down this path and there are hundreds of elements that will be erased -- street names, parks, schools, lakes, buildings, monuments, laws, cities, states, and more. Why work under the very insulting assumption that our kids (and adults) can't understand the past, learn from it, and use that knowledge to build a better future? Teach the past, respect our history, quit white-washing the legacy we've lived with. Stop tearing down things like historical monuments that were built to help us preserve our heritage. This has to stop.
Where would Minnesota be without the Louisiana Purchase? Thank you President Monroe! We Twin Citians really owe everything to you!!
We honor James Monroe by placing his name upon our school not because he owned slaves. No one of sound mind would consider such. We do so to honor his sacrifices and leadership to our nation. It’s inconceivable that his namesake was decided upon for any other reason lest we are to believe that those responsible were far less sound of mind than we. At no point in our history am I aware of slavery being honored. Yes, it was practiced, but not honored. Just as today we practice things such as abortion, but never honor it. Neither James Monroe nor any of us today deserve being judged and being wiped from the face of history by generations not of our time and circumstances. It is the job of history and the teaching thereof to provide the context and circumstance to which generations are exposed, lest we are all doomed to an unfair judgment and historical annihilation. Jeff Tressler Monroe Class of 1968
You can't change history with a name change. Are all the school names in St. Paul being changed? Is the street name Monroe CT. right by Monroe being changed? I believe I heard ONE person objected to the name Monroe and the PTA jumped all over it...so very wrong. You were not even going to bring the community into this until it hit Facebook. There are many of us that have grown up here and went to Monroe. I for one graduated in 65' from Monroe and my mother in the 40's. Also it was never called James Monroe, always Monroe. I vote to keep the name as is, drop the James, my yearbook only says Monroe not James Monroe.
We have many sites across America and in our local communities, named after historical figures. This is just one example of a man, who by today’s standards, lived with unacceptable behaviors. Best to leave the name as is and teach the history of this person so that is it not forgotten or swept under the rug. Schools are for learning. Shed truthful light. Don’t cover it up. Spend your energy educating for GOOD.