Stapleton’s name — Does it really matter?
This is a summary of a letter sent to the SUN Board – read the full letter at www.stapletonmoms.com
Stapleton is 78% white and seen as an upper-class, exclusive area. For most white residents, the name isn’t a problem, but it bothers many in the 22% who are not white. Since our Green Book touts diversity and inclusion, how can we not replace a name that embodies racism for some of our residents? Changing a name isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible.
The command to love our neighbors is one of the strongest in most world religions. My pastor preached on this issue and initially had two thoughts: “1) Would changing it make any difference; and 2) there must be bigger issues to tackle?” He ultimately concluded with, “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.’” We don’t change the name for those not bothered by it, we change it for those for whom it’s an issue.
What an opportunity for our community! Should we change the name and state why, local and national media will cover the story, resulting in tons of positive free publicity. More minorities might move here if our community takes action and says, “This isn’t who we are. We welcome you.” So many of us have “Hate has no home here” signs in our yard. Does that only apply to immigrants and refugees, or do we mean it for everyone?
Some argue that rebranding will hurt businesses. We don’t have to replace every mention of the name immediately, but could start small. Change it now, and rebrand over time.
What we do today is a gift to our neighbors and our future. The question shouldn’t be why should we change the name, but why shouldn’t we? Let’s make the right choice.
Recognize how people, including Ben Stapleton, can change for the better
Regarding the effort to change the Stapleton name; if Aaron Johnson wants to influence Stapleton residents he might want to reconsider starting out with a childish insult, referring to our community as KKKpleton. Sadly, he seems more interested in inflammatory statements then working towards consensus on the issue of what to call the community. Stapleton did join the KKK as a young man but later renounced the organization. That must have taken a great deal of courage as the KKK was a powerful political force and I am sure they did not take kindly to his effort to distance himself from them.
Stapleton should be praised for making that change and that should be the focus of this discussion – how people can change for the better. Another example is Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black who also joined the KKK in his youth and later renounced the organization – another act of courage, especially in his home state of Alabama. Justice Black became a champion of civil rights while serving on the Supreme Court for over 30 years and is credited with being a major force in the battle against racism and segregation. Is Mr. Johnson ready to also throw Justice Black, along with Ben Stapleton, on the trash heap of history or can he recognize the powerful healing force of redemption?
Change name to reflect positive transformation
Mayor Stapleton was a member of the KKK, a hate group. Charlottesville was a startling wake up call, reminding us what hate groups are all about: subjugating others, violence and destroying that which is good.
This place was admirably transformed by Forest City from a functional international airport, but also with its resultant contaminated soils and compromised ecosystems, into an earth-friendly, walkable community of interconnected neighborhoods. Forest City positively changed this place. It (we?) also need/s to change Stapleton’s name to reflect that positive transformation.
Mayor Stapleton even lied about his KKK membership in order “to appease his Jewish and Catholic supporters.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_F._Stapleton) I’m so tired of politicians who lie out of political expediency! One can see how such ‘traditions’ get started and then become acceptable even in this modern (progressive?) age. A democracy is essentially a contract of trust between the people and the politicians we elect. Stapleton violated that trust and it’s high time we say “No more!”, to this lack of moral integrity.
And let’s make a HUGE deal about making a name change; hold a naming contest of sorts with the ultimate goal of choosing a name that accurately reflects this model community. This will send a message loud and clear to those five hate groups that currently operate in and around Denver, to the KKK or to other white supremacist groups that might want to hold rallies or conventions in our community, that Denver will not be another Charlottesville. In addition, we will not turn back the clock and become a haven for the KKK like Denver was in the ‘20s and ‘30s. Maybe, just maybe, by taking such a proactive stance, we can prevent the needless death of another person like Heather D. Heyer. We cannot allow the sacrifice of our children to such hate groups.
—Paul R Bareis