Rename Custer Park in SW Portland to Beatrice Morrow Cannady Park

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The people of Portland Oregon have much to celebrate.  Our beautiful community is home to the ninth largest urban population of Native Americans, and we are rich in natural resources and history as well.  We also have some things in our past that are not worthy of celebrating.  One of those things in the controversial leadership of General George Armstrong Custer.  I find it difficult to believe that both a street and a park of over 6 acres in SW Portland are named for this General who worked to eradicate Native populations as part of the American Indian Wars.  He was not a resident of our state, degraded African Americans and Natives, and as a person of color with Native ancestry, I find the honor given to him misguided and offensive. 

In the New York Herald on September 2, 1876, President Grant said, "I regard Custer's Massacre as a sacrifice of troops, brought on by Custer himself, that was wholly unnecessary – wholly unnecessary."  I would agree that the loss of troops was unnecessary, and I would add that the loss lives of Native lives were also unnecessary as is the celebration of his career. 

There are many wonderful people who were residents of the state of Oregon and or the city of Portland that would make fitting honorees. I would propose we rename the park and honor one such individual who was a significant trailblazer, the first Female African American Lawyer and Newspaper Publisher, the courageous Beatrice Morrow Cannady.  Mrs. Cannady faced significant hurdles in her time and she was also one of the founding members of the Portland NAACP. 

The people of our community deserve to see themselves reflected in our common history versus the erasure that General Custer perpetuated. I would implore you to help our community move away from creating monuments to war and division and leave the relics of war to the history books.  I know that many in the community also agree it is time to see monuments to peace and community building honored.  For this reason, I would urge you to rename the park Beatrice Morrow Cannady Park.

Rachelle Dixon

A video on Beatrice Morrow Cannady:

Historical Information

This park was named for General George Armstrong Custer, at the time of his promotion the youngest general in the history of the United States Army (Galusha Pennypacker was the youngest during the Civil War). Although he died after making a grave error at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Custer had a substantial national prominence and had been considered a possible presidential candidate.