SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A petition to rename San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza in honor of poet and former San Francisco Municipal Railway driver Maya Angelou has collected more than 9,000 signatures.
San Francisco resident Julie Mastrine, 25, said she launched the petition after learning that Justin Herman, who was executive director of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency in the 1960s, led efforts to demolish thousands of black-owned homes and businesses in the Fillmore District in the name of redevelopment.
"He was responsible for bulldozing much of the historically black Fillmore District, causing mass displacement of black residents," the petition states.
The idea to rename the plaza is not a new one, but it is one that has struggled to gain traction.
A previous petition launched in 2015 by Brett and Michelle Harris-Anderson collected just over 300 signatures, while a 2001 effort by Supervisor Chris Daly to introduce a resolution calling for Herman's name to be removed from the plaza failed to win support.
More recently, several supervisors have voiced support in the media for the idea, but none have so far introduced legislation to make the change.
"It's never gone very far," Mastrine said, noting that she was considering a fundraiser to help cover the costs of changing the park's name.
The petition can be found at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/124/230/177/rename-san-franciscos-justin-herman-plaza/.
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