David Starr Jordan High School in Watts has been renamed Jordan High, to reflect the wishes of the school community that wanted to cut ties with a promoter of the racist practice of eugenics but retain a local legacy associated with the aspirations of generations of Black and Latino students.
The renaming was ratified by a vote of the Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday.
“Generations of community members have proudly graced our halls,” said Principal Lucía Cerda, who grew up in the neighborhood of the Watts campus and is married to a Jordan High graduate. She told the Board of Education that the name Jordan meant something to those who wanted to support “the Jordan they know and love.”
What the school community did not want is a continued association with the person for whom the school was named. David Starr Jordan, founding president of Stanford University, figured prominently in the racist doctrine of eugenics, which in the early 20th century was couched as a scientific public health and welfare effort to control for favorable characteristics in human reproduction. In Jordan’s opinion, that meant avoiding the mixing of races that he considered to be degrading.
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