Stapleton, a neighborhood in Denver, Colorado, has voted to keep its name, which has sparked controversy. It’s named after a Ku Klux Klan member.
Activists in Colorado said that it wrongly immortalized a racist Denver mayor who was in office almost century ago. Others said the name was simply a throwback to the airport that was once nearby, according to CNN.
A community group called ‘Rename St*pleton for All’ advocated for the change in the first place because the community’s namesake is former Denver Mayor Benjamin Stapleton – a member of the Klan.
Being a part of the Klan actually helped Stapleton get elected – for five terms. He was first elected in the 1920s and didn’t hide his membership with the KKK, according to Colorado State Historian William Wei, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Property owners overwhelmingly chose to keep the name. They voted 65% to keep its current name and 35% to change it.
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“Removing the name Stapleton from places of honor in Denver is one small, visible way of making amends for that history,” Liz Stalnaker, the group’s chair, told CNN. Stalnaker said she was disappointed and saddened “but not particularly surprised” by the results of the vote.
The Klan “provided the manpower and money that helped get him elected and he in turn appointed members of the KKK to various political positions,” including the police chief, Wei told CNN.
“Stapleton, the name, is about an airport, a very successful airport, and a lookback at the economic engine of the area for decades,” Keven Burnett, the executive director of the community association, told CNN. “There’s not one statue of Ben Stapleton out here.”
Although the name of the city might not change, other community members have decided to get a movement together to rename other places in the city.
In May, the Denver School of Science and Technology, DSST: Stapleton, became DSST: Montview after a push from its students. And a city rec center with the name also recently committed to changing it.