Letter to the editor: Rename Pinckney

To the editor:

I don’t live there, but I’ve always liked the Pinckney neighborhood. It’s diverse, creative and full of Lawrence fun. Flanked by the Kaw and the hospital and Pinckney Elementary next to lovely Clinton Park, one of the coolest places in town.

However, I’ve often wondered if it doesn’t bother other Lawrencians how after all these post-Civil War years — after all these Free State Lawrence post-Civil War years — we’d still put up with one of our favorite neighborhoods in Lawrence being named in honor of one of the most wicked racists in history, Charles Pinckney.

He was one of our Founding Fathers, so we’ve got to give him credit there — risked being hanged by the crown for treason on our behalf, he did.

But that’s not all he did.

At the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia, Pinckney, a lifelong slave owner from South Carolina, cosponsored the Fugitive Slave Clause, which gave special protection for slave holders and tied nonslave folks to immoral ends, requiring all states to return escaped slaves to slave owners at taxpayer expense.

Think about that and what Lawrence stands for today.

I propose Pinckney residents rename it Michelle, after our former first lady, and the school be renamed after her husband, who did some good things too. That would put both the Pinckney family of South Carolina and conservative politicians strewing racist ideals in their place, wouldn’t it?

Gary M. Smith,



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