Park in Sacramento Will No Longer Be Named for a White Supremacist

Four years ago in 2004, JBHE reported that Anthony M. Platt, a professor emeritus of social work at Sacramento State University, had launched a campaign to rename the C.M. Goethe Arboretum. The three-acre park on the north side of the campus was named after Charles M. Goethe, a major benefactor of the university but a man who was also a major supporter of the genetics movement.

Goethe, who died in 1966, was the founder of the Eugenics Society of Northern California. It is estimated that during the course of his life he gave more than $1 million to eugenics-related causes. In addition, he wrote hundreds of letters and articles for newspapers touting his racial belief in the superiority of Nordic people. Goethe was a major supporter of the Human Betterment Foundation, which has been reported to have carried out 20,000 involuntary sterilizations of poor women in California between 1909 and 1960.

Now Professor Platt’s efforts have finally paid off. The county’s board of supervisors has voted unanimously to change the name of the recreational area to River Bend Park.

In 2007 the city had renamed the Charles M. Goethe Middle School. The school, which has a predominantly black student body, is now named to honor Rosa Parks.