DENVER CITY COUNCIL
Candi CdeBaca, District 9
“The recreation center in Globeville also bears the name, and we are looking into changing it. The leadership in these changes has come from the late Dr. Diggs and youth at DSST Stapleton now DSST Montview. The city should follow the lead of our next generation of leaders/residents and a Critical Race Theory expert. If Denver aspires to truly be a city intolerant of hate, then we should not continue to memorialize or honor known perpetrators of hate. I personally support a name change and would hope a new name could honor the indigenous legacy of the land.”
Robin Kniech, At-Large
“I believe that the most important voices in any conversation about the present day impact of historical names/monuments must be the community that has experienced/is still experiencing the legacy of oppression invoked by the history. To the extent Denver’s African American residents still experience institutional oppression that continues to flow from systems that were created with the brutal help of the Klan, I believe it is our responsibility to hear their concerns and give them the greatest weight. Where these voices identify changes that are within our power to make to remove symbols of oppression, and where we can do so through a robust and reflective community conversation that educates and raises awareness of how the name is linked to oppression, it is appropriate to make those changes. In addition to my role as a city-wide Councilperson, I’m a resident of Northeast Park Hill who also has good friends and daily life activities that often take me to Stapleton, and in both roles I’m acutely aware of the “Quebec divide” in spite of strong commitments to inclusivity and diversity from residents on both sides of the line. Systems can be more powerful than individual intentions. A name change alone cannot eliminate that divide, but it is my hope that the dialogue created around this name change can create stronger connections and strategies among African Americans and white residents in both neighborhoods and beyond, that advance us toward fuller integration and equality. Then we will truly have overcome the legacy of the Stapleton-Klan connection.”
Debbie Ortega, At-Large
“I will support the community’s efforts to make this change. I haven’t followed the process to know if this will require any action by City Council or not.”
DENVER MAYOR’S OFFICE
Wellington E. Webb, Denver Mayor from 1991-2003
“I don’t know how the referendum on renaming the Stapleton neighborhood is going to come out, but I do know the following. The Stapleton neighborhood residents are better than the name of the neighborhood name where they live. Abraham Lincoln once said: ‘Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We, of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation.
“We can never erase the fact that Benjamin Stapleton was elected mayor of Denver and served a total of 20 years, which history has recorded. However, we should no longer honor a man who also was a member of #1128 of the Ku Klux Klan. Stapleton, who served two stints as mayor from 1923-1931 and 1935-1947, appointed Klansmen to positions of power, including the chief of police. Klan members in Denver and nationally used political power to control and terrorize black people, Jews, Catholics, and other ethnic groups.
“In 2019, we cannot diminish the impact of the KKK or disregard the history. In today’s society, we have to take a stand on where we stand.
“The new corporation that bought Forest City and administers and the Stapleton Neighborhood Association should not think this issue will go away, even if the vote is to keep the Stapleton name. I obviously hope the vote is to let the neighborhood change the name, like residents living in Cherry Hills Village renamed Swastika Acres earlier this year.
“The argument of well if we change this then we have to change the names of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson because they owned slaves is a facetious argument. Being a slave owner in the 1700s is not the same as the KKK promoting racism for more than a century.
“A little known fact is that the KKK was founded in 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee. That town was named to honor the Polish-born American Revolutionary War hero Kazimierz Pułaski.Pulaski was Catholic and would have been a target of the KKK.
“For decades, Denver has ignored one of its mayors was a KKK member. We have to face reality and make a change. In 2019 we can’t honor any person who is associated with hate and bigotry.”
COLORADO STATE REPRESENTATIVES
James Coleman, House District 7
“Yes, the name should be changed, and more importantly there should be a change in how people are living!”
Leslie Herod, House District 8
“I support the name change. At one point, I offered to help find funding to change the signage.”
U.S. CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS 1 & 6
Congressman Jason Crow (Stapleton resident)
“Deserai and I support a name change. Our family lived in this neighborhood for 11 years. We know it to be accepting and inclusive, which is one of the reasons we choose to raise our family here; however, if that isn’t the case for all of our neighbors, we must work to change that. For us, the decision to vote to rename Stapleton came down to voting to make sure everyone knows that they are welcome here.”
Congresswoman Dianna DeGette
“If I were a Stapleton resident, I would vote to change the name to reflect the strong, vibrant and diverse community that I live in.”
Crisanta Duran (primary candidate)
“Names matter. I don’t believe a Denver neighborhood should be named after a member of the KKK. We live in communities with one another and have laws and processes to address these challenges. The appropriate solution should be determined by people who live and work in the neighborhood.”
ADDITIONAL PUBLIC FIGURES
Tay Anderson - Educator, Candidate for the Denver School Board At-Large
“I support this community led effort to rename St*pleton, because we are a city that moves forward and embraces our diversity. We are a city that doesn’t tolerate hate, so we must be a city that leads and sends a message that we don’t celebrate leaders who worked to oppress people of color.”
Lisa Calderón, Candidate for Denver Mayor
Steve Douglas – Mayoral Candidate for Commerce City
“Change the name!!!! The KKK burned a cross in front of my home.”
Omar Montgomery – Aurora Mayoral Candidate
“I support changing the name. My family left the south with a pistol in hand in opposition to the KKK.”
Leanne Wheeler – Aurora City Council At-Large Candidate
“Change the damn name!”
U.S. SENATE CANDIDATES
“I agree with the Rename Stapleton for All campaign, it’s past time to #ChangeTheNameStapleton and I admire the efforts of BLM5280, NAACP and the grassroots activists who have lead this years-long effort. And I think it’s worth noting that this change isn’t just overdue, it is inspiring – in a moment when so much is going in the wrong direction, activists who drive positive change remind us all to reject cynicism and hate, and to believe in the possibility of progress.”
“I absolutely support the name change for the Stapleton neighborhood. I believe that it is an honor to have something named for someone and I don’t think a man who was a member of the KKK should have that honor. I would like to see Colorado leading in this area of social justice. Most importantly, I believe that if people who were most damaged and harmed by an organization say that the name should be changed, that opinion should be respected and the name should be changed.
“As an aside, I am from Washington D.C. and am very troubled and upset that the owner of the Washington DC football team will not change their name. I once had a lot of affection for that team and I won’t even say the name anymore. People need to do a better job of listening to others who have been offended, and respect and hear what they say is offensive and hurtful.”
“Renaming Stapleton shows a commitment to the respect and dignity of all peoples by acknowledging the root of the name in white supremacy and demonstrates the communal intolerance to hate. I wholeheartedly support renaming.”
Mike Johnston (Stapleton resident)
(7/24) “Yes, I support the name change and have said so publicly! Happy to talk more when I get home.”
(7/29) “I have lived in Stapleton for 15 years, all three of my kids were born and raised here, and I had the honor of representing Stapleton in the state Senate for seven years. Like many families, I was drawn to Stapleton because of its promise of inclusion and diversity, and its intention to be a good neighbor to the historic neighborhoods that surround it. While many people used the Stapleton reference to remind us of the airport that once occupied this plot of land, the nearly 4,400 families that have built their lives here have turned this into much more than a former airport. And its inclusive promise represents something far nobler than the hateful history of the KKK. Denver is building a new and diverse future that we all can author, and Stapleton should lead the way by choosing a name that reflects not a divisive memory of what Denver once was, but an inclusive vision of what Denver can still become.”
Via tweet: “Let’s #RenameStapleton and celebrate our diversity instead. #changethenamestapleton #hatehasnohomehere”
Stephanie Rose Spaulding
“We are living in times where hate groups are on the rise across America and folks who are aware of what this could lead too are speaking up and out against racism. We don’t need anymore monuments to architects of racism, historic or present. So renaming Stapleton is a way for our state to move forward and invest in a mission of human dignity and decency for everyone.”
“Personally, I don’t think we should name neighborhoods after KKK members. This is a question for the neighborhood and we will see how the vote comes out!”
“I’m certainly aware of Colorado’s ties to the KKK and I do not support honoring former — or current — KKK members, may that be with statues, names, or otherwise.”
CLUBS & ORGANIZATIONS
Amy Brown Co-Founder, Black Lives Matter 5280 Co-Lead, #ChangeTheNameSt*pleton Campaign
“When BLM5280 started the 2015 campaign to #ChangeTheNameStapleton, it was out of a desire for community healing. We aren’t always given the opportunity to right wrongs- to be better. But renaming St*pleton is a chance for our neighbors to show that they have heard the communities calling out for an end to hatred in its many forms. With this vote, our St*pleton neighbors can say, once and for all, that the horrific legacy of the KKK has no place here.”
Rosemary Lytle - NAACP State President, The NAACP State Conference
“The NAACP State Conference supports a new name, and a new reality, for the community of ‘Stapleton.’ There is a movement nationwide to unname public markers that harken back to a xenophobic and oppressive history. Now is the time for Denver to be part of that movement. Renaming ‘Stapleton’ would refresh public memory and support efforts to move forward a reality where all people have equitable access to opportunity. This is not about dismissing the cries of preservationists, but rather about dismissing the specter of White supremacy. A new name would be consistent with the NAACP’s purpose. And, it would be a game changer for social justice. In tandem with changing a name, we must also work to change the policies that keep people trapped in a KKK reality.”
Nathan Woodliff-Stanley - Executive Direction of ACLU Colorado (Stapleton Resident since 2005)
“In a state that voted for Amendment A to abolish slavery and involuntary servitude in all circumstances, we should also remove the symbols of oppression and racial bias that still haunt and harm our state. Given the legacy of the Stapleton name, changing the name to something more inclusive would serve our community and the state of Colorado well.”
The Brave Coalition Supports Community Name Change
#bebraveblog, #braveposition, #speakup
The following is Brave’s official position statement concerning the name of our Northeast Denver community.
“The Brave Coalition is a Northeast Denver-based non-profit formed by women in the community following a hate graffiti incident at Isabella Bird Community School in 2016. Our mission is to build more inclusive communities where all people can live their fullest lives regardless of identity or circumstance.
“According to History Colorado, former mayor Benjamin Stapleton was a high-ranking KKK member who used his position to promote Klan interests during his time in office (1923-31 and 1935-47). Contrary to popular reports, there is no documentation of him recanting his membership or white supremacist views. Nevertheless, when the time came to turn the airport named to honor Stapleton into a neighborhood, the Stapleton name was carried over.
“The Brave Coalition supports changing the name of this community as an important step to making our neighborhood a welcoming, diverse, and safe place for all. Here’s why:
“History matters and impacts the present. We believe that this issue should be viewed in its context: our city’s history of systemic racism, antisemitism, and homophobia designed to exclude certain people from the most “desirable” neighborhoods. From outright bans, to discriminatory loan programs, to more subtle messages, let’s end the cycle of unwelcome. This is as important now as ever, as incidents of hate are still prevalent in Denver.
“Symbols matter and impact hearts and minds. A name change is not equity or inclusiveness, and it should not be a substitute for those goals. But symbols do help to build the environment in which we decide who will be valued, heard, and honored. The environment in which we decide who “we” are. We love our community, and we agree with many community members that the name should reflect our positive vision for the future.
“People matter. We believe those who say that they are harmed by the Stapleton name, and that the community should come together and take the steps necessary to end that harm. As the proverb goes, while the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the next best time is right now. Moreover, the claimed financial sacrifice is not at all clear and shouldn’t deter people from choosing to re-name our community. While property owners are being asked to vote to pay for a name change, the truth is no one has outlined what the public costs would be, how those costs would be allocated, and why they would have to be incurred all at once.
“Recognizing that not everyone will agree with our position, we believe all can agree that property owners should be aware of the process and vote on the issue. Developers like Forest City have a powerful role in our neighborhood community association (MCA) voting, as they also pay into the MCA. However, they have commercial incentives to oppose a name change and they are not long-term community members. We shouldn’t stand on the side while decisions are made about where we live.”
NE Denver Neighbors for Racial Justice
“Official NE Denver Neighbors for Racial Justice Statement on #ChangeTheNameStapleton
We are inclusive NE Denver neighbors who are passionate about racial and economic justice, working in our immediate community while forming alliances within the Denver, Colorado, national, and international Black Lives Matter activist network. We are open to personal growth and accountability as we dismantle the structures of white supremacy. We strive to compassionately allow each other to make mistakes; unified in our intentions and our actions to create a safer and more loving and just community.
NE Denver Neighbors for Racial Justice was founded to unify neighborhoods in northeast Denver. We focus on local issues and welcome members regardless of where they reside, because our issues are often not unique. The group was started, largely, by members who reside in the neighborhood located at the site of the former Stapleton Airport.
Mayor Stapleton was not only a member of the Ku Klux Klan, but he served as a major supporter. Between the 1920s and 1950s, the Klan boasted many members who controlled both houses of the Colorado State Legislature, and Governor Clarence Morley was also a member. Indeed, we understand that the Klan enjoyed control of the Office of State, the Supreme Court of Colorado and seven judicial seats on the District Court of Denver. As mayor, Stapleton was a central figure in the Klan’s domination of our Colorado institutions. He appointed many members to prominent positions in our local government, including the Chief of Police. It is reported that Stapleton discontinued his membership in the Klan when it became politically expedient to do so, but there is no record of him directly denouncing the Klan, nor is he known for actively working to reverse the damage done to our government institutions during the Klan era in Denver. Mayor Stapleton’s political opportunism and avoidance of personal responsibility with regard to issues of racial justice are not qualities that deserve the honor of having a neighborhood named after him.
Given this history, we, the NE Denver Neighbors for Racial Justice, are releasing our official statement regarding the #ChangeTheNameStapleton initiative. There is a movement throughout the United States in which symbols of hatred and oppression are being removed from places of stature; #ChangeTheNameStapleton is a proud part of this movement. We are focusing our efforts to influence the Stapleton United Neighbors (SUN) Board, Forest City, and Mayor Hancock. It is our hope that this movement will continue to gain momentum in Denver and that these stakeholders will come to see dropping the name as a positive step forward, and that local businesses and organizations will follow.
In 2015, Forest City VP Tom Gleason responded with the following email message to a Front Porch request for Forest City’s perspective on the Black Lives Matter flyers: “Forest City and the Stapleton Development Corporation have agreed over the years that the Stapleton name would be used in a limited role as a ‘locator’ (given that it was nationally and internationally known as Denver’s airport for many decades) while we built the inclusive and diverse community envisioned by the citizens of Denver, Aurora and Commerce City who created The Green Book. Over that period of time, we have built eight new neighborhoods on the former airport along with new schools, parks and retail centers—all with new names and without the name of the former airport.”* This statement disingenuously implies that the Stapleton name is being phased out; however, the exact opposite has occurred. As the years go by, while parks, pools, etc. have been given names other than Stapleton, Forest City continues to use “Stapleton” as their brand and in their marketing. The longer we as a community use this name, the more businesses and public spaces will adopt it, and the more entrenched it will become. To date, since the first residents moved into the Stapleton neighborhood, 140+ businesses have adopted his name.
As a first step, we request that the SUN Board to remove this name from their organization. SUN is the registered neighborhood organization for the area located at the site of the former Stapleton Airport, and it is comprised of volunteers who discuss key issues with residents, represent their interests, engage in proactive problem-solving, and organize neighborhood-building activities. We appreciate that our neighbors are volunteering their time and believe their intentions to be genuinely good. However, after years of inaction related to this issue, we will not back down until the Stapleton name is removed from the organization that represents the neighborhood where many of us reside. If we do not, they are making us complicit in honoring a white supremacist. We offer them our support in removing the name.
We also request that Mayor Michael Hancock remove the name Stapleton from the city streets— Stapleton Drive North and Stapleton Drive South—and that he remove the name Stapleton from the city’s Stapleton Recreation Center.
At a SUN meeting in 2015, a Jewish resident shared memories of the KKK marching down his street on the sabbath. More recently, we heard from a Denver resident whose grandfather was forced to relocate outside of Denver, due to death threats received from the KKK. These incidents took place during the term of Mayor Stapleton. This is not mere history. This is still living memory. Willful avoidance of or indifference to this issue is tacit approval for the symbolic violence inherent in the continued use of this name. It is time to do the right thing. It is time to move forward and to truly begin building the “inclusive and diverse” neighborhood promised by the Green Book. All Denver residents are called to join us in this effort.”
Northfield Asian CommuniTEA (New name)
“The Stapleton Asian CommuniTEA [Facebook group] was created to foster community and friendship among the Asian women of Stapleton in 2015. It has grown into a vibrant, caring and supportive group of women. The group has enriched our lives and has given us all a feeling of belonging within our neighborhood.
“During this time, we’ve listened to the voices of those in our group as well as the surrounding community who object to the name “Stapleton” for our neighborhood. We’ve come to learn that our community takes its name from the airport that was named after Benjamin Stapleton, Denver’s former mayor who was a prominent member of the Ku Klux Klan. He used his position to elevate the KKK’s power and agenda by enacting racist policies and appointing fellow Klansmen throughout his administration. He allowed the Klan to persecute Catholics, Jews, and people of color with cross burnings, mobs, and bombings. He never expressed regret nor made amends for the unabated reign of terror during this period of his life.
“Ben Stapleton’s legacy of hate does not represent our community, and we refuse to support the continued use of Stapleton’s name in a place of honor. To continue to use the name Stapleton in our group’s name would be to ignore and marginalize the many voices and groups who vehemently opposed naming our neighborhood Stapleton long before homes were built in the neighborhood, as well as those who feel pain and exclusion when they see and hear the name today – including many of our own members.
“The myth of the model minority has been used against other people of color, served to divide people of color, and marginalize the real needs of Asian people. We reject that social construct and stand in solidarity with all who are oppressed by systemic racism. We see our group’s name change as a gesture of anti-racism and urge others who are eligible to vote in the neighborhood name change to vote YES for renaming our neighborhood.
“We are currently voting on a new name for our group, and we look forward to coming together around a name that we can all feel pride in!”
Rev. Dr. David Bahr - Pastor of Park Hill Congregational United Church of Christ
“Stapleton is an example of institutionalized racism. A memorial to white supremacy – an airport not named after his death for all his laudable accomplishments but in 1944, while he was still in the middle of his second stint as mayor. By people who knew the whole story. And now his name is so interwoven into the structure of society that few people notice it, or when pointed out, justifications for it are given more weight than the disruption it would entail to eliminate it – to eliminate a painful reminder to People of Color, Jews, Catholics, Chinese and all others whom the KKK openly terrorized, who I am certain were not consulted about using his name for the airport. As simplistic as it may seem, this hurts my neighbor. If my neighbor says this hurts them, then I can do no other than side with the commandment “Love does no wrong to a neighbor.””
Shorter Community African Methodist Episcopal Church
Shorter Community AME church, posthumously, awarded Dr. Gregory Diggs the Shoes of Justice for “leading the fight to change the name of the Stapleton community”.
Rev. Mike Morran - Senior Minister at First Unitarian Society of Denver (Stapleton resident since 2002)
“Morally, the issue of changing the name Stapleton could hardly be simpler or more straightforward. We, Stapleton homeowners, businesses, and voters, are being told that the existing name hurts people, both within and beyond the neighborhood. We are being told that the name is a visible and pervasive reminder of a hateful and exclusionary history. We are being told that keeping that name for our beloved neighborhood continues to pay homage to that hate and exclusion. We are being asked to relieve some of that pain.
When someone says they are being hurt, they are not asking for a debate. When someone is being hurt, they are not asking to have their pain dismissed or explained away. When someone is being hurt, the moral thing to do is remove the cause of that hurt – if it is within our power to do so. This is extraordinarily low hanging fruit. No whitesplaining. No excuses. Change the name.”
Rev. Brad Laurvick - Highlands United Methodist Church Pastor and Candidate for DPS Board, District 5 (Stapleton Resident since 2008)
“Throughout its infamous history, the Ku Klux Klan has engaged in acts of domestic terrorism. As a KKK member, Benjamin Stapleton has never been worthy of being honored in any manner. Who he was, his values and his legacy will forever be linked to a hate group with its history tied to violence and murder, and soaked in the blood of thousands of victims. My family and I have called this neighborhood home for the past 11 years. The reality is Benjamin Stapleton would not have welcomed us nor many of our neighbors to ‘his’ neighborhood. If this is truly the diverse and inclusive neighborhood many claim it to be, then use of this name in places of honor should come to an end now.”
The following organizations have removed the moniker, Stapleton, from their business name and brand. We appreciate them! We are creating a Business Advisory Team to assist others who would like to do the same.
Northfield Asian CommuniTEA (formerly Stapleton Asian CommuniTEA)
SDC (formerly Stapleton Development Corporation)
Citizens Advisory Board (formerly Stapleton Citizens Advisory Board)
The Stapleton Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities has dropped “Stapleton” from its name. The foundation will begin doing business as “The Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities” effective January 1, 2018.
Neighborhood Meditation Group (formerly Stapleton Meditation Group)
Northfield Neighbors (formerly Conservatory Greens Neighbors at Stapleton)
Northfield Political Action (formerly North Stapleton Political Action)
Perfectly Posh, consultant Casey Muirhead, changed the name on her profile