Rename Godfrey Park

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My name is Michael Hulihan and I am a Fourth Generation Italian American Bay Farm Island resident.

I am asking the citizens of Alameda to help me with this petition to get community support in the renaming of Godfrey Park on Bay Farm Island. It was brought to my attention that the park named after Milton C. Godfrey was a former Mayor of Alameda during WWII from 1941-1945.  During his mayoral run he requested that Alameda’s housing authority look into the “issue” of controlling the influx of African American workers moving to Alameda by using discriminatory tactics and trying to force out African Americans from living in Alameda. He also happened to oversee the discrimination and removal of Japanese and Italian Americans from Alameda during this time. 

This story is personal to me in many ways, I’m a 4th generation Alameda resident, my great grandmother came here as a little girl from Italy, my grandmother was born on Bay Farm Island. The Italian farmers worked hard to cultivate the land and make it their own. Unfortunately, during WW2 many Italians were forced to leave alameda and relegated to only being able to live on Bay Farm Island, this was also a time as my grandmother told me, speaking Italian was frowned upon as you were speaking the “enemy's language”. The Italians and Portuguese built their own society out on Bay Farm Island; they embraced each other and people of other races. They employed everyone and anyone, as long you worked hard. 

What I’m proposing to the parks commission and the Alameda city council is to rename the park in memory of the Italian and Portuguese Immigrants who settled on Bay Farm Island with very little in their pockets and founded a thriving community. Hopefully using input from the Italian and Portuguese American community in Alameda will help guide the committee that is being set up as we speak to choose an appropriate name for our park on Bay Farm Island. 

Here are some positives I have for the name change to represent the immigrant farming families who settled here:

1.) The Italians and Portuguese were the first immigrants to start farming Bay Farm Island

2.) They faced poverty and discrimination yet overcame it, building a thriving community

3.) It brings to light the rich history of Bay Farm Island something that not many people know to this day

4.) it’s represents the American dream that any immigrant can relate to. They wanted to find a peaceful way of life escaping war, fascism, and poverty, to raise families and make an honest living. 

Some families still reside in Alameda to this day showing a strong connection with the city. This history is important and something we as Alameda residents can all take pride in knowing that the immigrant dream is real and it happened right in our own backyard. 

Thank you for your time and I hope you can support this petition to help rename the first city park on Bay Farm Island.