Rename St*pleton for All Responds: “A Definitive Majority Wants a Name Change. It’s Not Enough, But It’s Real Progress.”
The results are in: 261 (58%) Yes votes versus 189 (42%) No votes to remove “Stapleton” from the name of our neighborhood association, Stapleton United Neighbors (SUN). Although a definitive majority of voters support the name change, the Stapleton community has not met the 66% threshold required to amend SUN’s bylaws. This outcome is disappointing and goes against the rising tide: Other neighborhood organizations, such as The Stapleton Foundation (now The Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities), the Stapleton Citizens Advisory Board (CAB), and the Stapleton Development Corporation (now SDC), have already discontinued honoring Mayor Benjamin F. Stapleton, due to his membership in and enabling of the Ku Klux Klan in Denver during the 1920s. A supermajority of 66% to change the name would have been another step in the right direction for our community.
This issue is not new. Objections to the use of the name Stapleton have been raised since the very beginning of the old airport’s redevelopment, when the SDC formed a committee that created a written policy restricting the developer to use of the name as a locater for marketing purposes only. Those concerns were minimized and dismissed by Forest City in favor of making the name “Stapleton” central to their branding and marketing campaigns. In 2015, Black Lives Matter 5280 revived this issue and took the initiative to push for the name change, and in 2017, Rename St*pleton for All picked up the torch and is carrying on this work.
We believe that the momentum of the people is in the direction of change. We live here. We are raising our families here. And we are not going away. As our late, beloved leader Dr. Gregory Diggs once said, “We will be back.” We will continue to educate the community through our cultural history program Denver Faces Our KKK History Together. We now are very confident that as more and more people learn this history, they will own it—in order to disown it.
We will continue to partner with those who share our desire to make our community one that is truly welcoming to all residents. In their statement releasing the vote results, SUN affirmed their commitment to working on inclusivity and equity, and we welcome the opportunity to collaborate.
We thank everyone who came out to vote on Tuesday, those still on the fence, and even those who voted no. To the growing community of people who are willing to work toward a more welcoming, equitable neighborhood, we have this message: Our work is not done. SUN’s name may not change yet, but we have proven we are a definitive majority and we are stronger for this vote. We invite you to join us in moving forward because we believe that we are better people than our history may suggest, and we will do the work to make this the community and world we want to live in. The name is only the beginning.