Rename Pershing Square
Rename Pershing Square
LA City Council Members:
Amidst a historic fight against anti-Asian violence & uprising for Black liberation, racist memorials are once again in the international media spotlight. Most of the attention is focused on Confederate and conquistador statues, and Pershing Square has its place alongside them. Its namesake, General John Pershing, has no ties to Los Angeles whatsoever, but is known for genocidal campaigns against communities dear to Los Angeles (Filipino, Native American, Muslim, Korean and Mexican).
From his extermination campaigns against the Apache and Sioux tribes in the late 1800s, to the Spanish American war where the U.S. seized colonies like the Philippines from Spain, to supporting Imperial Japan’s conquest in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, to the massacres of Mexican revolutionaries during the search for Pancho Villa in the 1910’s and many more rampages, Pershing laid a trail of devastation across the world.
Pershing Square has gone through several renamings before: from St. Vincent’s Park (1867), to Los Angeles Park (1870), to 6th Street Park (1886), to Central Park (1890’s), before finally being named Pershing Square in November 1918 to commemorate the U.S.’s victory in World War I.
It’s time for Los Angeles to finally rename Pershing Square and stop glorifying white supremacy. We call for Pershing Square to be renamed Lawson Square, in honor of the civil rights legend who actually is dear to LA history.
Rev. Lawson was most recently seen widely across the United States, for his powerful speech at the funeral for John Lewis. He was one of the central leaders of the civil rights movement; a core strategist of the history-changing Freedom Rides & desegregation sit-ins; led the campaign to remove “whites only” signs in Nashville; and a close collaborator with MLK.
In 1974 he moved to Los Angeles as pastor of the progressive Holman United Methodist Church, which he offered as a hub of social justice organizing. He later spent many years as Chairman of LA labor organization, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE).
In 2010, he created the Civil Discourse and Social Change Initiative at California State University Northridge's. Rev. Lawson’s entire life has been dedicated to the ideals of peace, equality, friendship and justice. He is a powerhouse of history, a giant of the civil rights movement, and a symbol of unity; someone LA can be proud to have honored in the heart of our city. Rename Pershing square to Lawson Square and let this public space represent freedom, justice, and equality, not racism.