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|(July 9, 2020) -- Between WWI and WWII, CA was the odious epicenter for advocates of eugenics. Its proponents argued it would improve society to deter or physically prevent (with forced sterilizations) persons it deemed less worthy mentally, physically or racially from reproducing.
Proponents of this now discredited view included prominent scientific and civic figures of the day. Founders of the Pasadena-based "Human Betterment Foundation" (1928-1942) included naturalist, ichthyologist , Stanford University founding president David Starr Jordan.
He was later joined by Robert Millikan, a 1923 Nobel Prize winner (physics) for his work with measurement of elementary electric charge and work on photoelectric effect.)
So, what to do now with these scientists for whom LB named NLB's Jordan High and ELB Millikan? A Cal Tech alumnus (now UCLA Professor) says Millikan's name should be removed from multiple locations at the Pasadena campus (coverage in Pasadena Now.)
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In 2017, Palo Alto's school district voted to rename its Jordan middle school. In 2019, Burbank did likewise with its Jordan middle school.
Now propelled by recent events, Long Beach School Board incumbent Megan Kerr (in office since 2014) has calld for renaming Jordan High School in her district.
But is erasing a person's name too easy? Does it avoid facing more troublesome historical facts?
For years, mainstream California accepted odious eugenic views dispensed by some of its most prominent scientists and civic figures.
For decades under multiple Governors, CA enabled laws (starting before WWI) allowing forced sterilizations. Some of these persisted into the early 1960s. (They fell out of favor after Nazi Germany went beyond sterilizations and murdered undesired adults and children.)
And then there's the question of Margaret Sanger (with no LB school named for her) a 1920's pioneer in advocating birth control for family planning but whose words also citing supposed eugenic benefits of those choices
These are teachable moments in teachable times. Long Beach shouldn't flinch at teaching them and learning from them.
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