The claim: San Francisco will rename Abraham Lincoln High School because he did not show 'black lives mattered to him'
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States. He led the Union through the Civil War, and freed most of the nation's slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation.
In recent days, users have taken to social media to criticize efforts to remove his name from a high school in San Francisco.
Not the Bee — which brands itself as "a humor-based news, opinion, and entertainment site" — wrote about the effort on its Instagram.
"San Francisco to rename ABRAHAM LINCOLN High School because — I swear this is real — 'he did not show that black lives ever mattered to him,'" the post read.
"San Francisco to rename Abraham Lincoln High School because former president did not demonstrate that 'black lives mattered to him,'" the tweet and headline read.
Not the Bee, PragerU, The Republican Patriot and The Daily Mail have not responded to requests from USA TODAY for comment.
A committee included Abraham Lincoln HS on a list of schools that met its renaming criteria
In 2018, the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education established a panel to oversee a "formalized process" to review the names of the district's public schools, per its website.
In September, the panel — termed the School Names Advisory Committee — compiled a list of 44 schools that met its renaming criteria. Abraham Lincoln High School was among the list, per ABC 7 News. The full list appears in the committee's minutes from its Sept. 9 meeting.
The criteria include individuals who were involved in colonization; owned slaves; perpetrated genocide; exploited workers; oppressed women, children, queer or transgender individuals; contributed to human rights or environmental abuses; and espoused racist beliefs.
Recently, Jeremiah Jeffries — a first-grade teacher and the chairman of the committee — spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle about the choice to include Abraham Lincoln High School on the list.
“The history of Lincoln and Native Americans is complicated, not nearly as well known as that of the Civil War and slavery,” he said. “Lincoln, like the presidents before him and most after, did not show through policy or rhetoric that Black lives ever mattered to them outside of human capital and as casualties of wealth building."
"The discussion for Lincoln centered around his treatment of First Nation peoples, because that was offered first," Jeffries added. "Once he met criteria in that way, we did not belabor the point."
His quotes, published Dec. 14, prompted the latest round of backlash, including the posts from Not the Bee, PragerU, and The Republican Patriot.
The committee has not finalized its recommendations, and the school board has not voted
However, the decision to rename Abraham Lincoln High School is not final, as the Daily Mail headline and posts that include it suggest. In fact, it has not even been officially recommended.
The committee will reconvene on Jan. 6 to consider feedback from the schools it identified and write up its formal recommendations, which it will deliver in January or February, per a statement from SFUSD School Board President Mark Sanchez.
At that time, the SFUSD School Board will vote on whether to move forward with the name changes. It is unclear how its members will vote, per SFGate.
That fact is also included in the Daily Mail article that some of the posts cited in their content. "The new names have not yet been revealed and any final decision on renaming - and the choice of names — will have to be voted upon and approved by school boards," the article reads.
There has been significant opposition to the renaming effort, both within San Francisco and at the national level.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed, for example, called it "offensive" for SFUSD to be focused on renaming in the midst of a pandemic.
President Donald Trump specifically criticized the notion that Abraham Lincoln High School should be renamed. "So ridiculous and unfair," he wrote on Twitter.
Our rating: Missing context
Based on our research, the claim that San Francisco will rename Abraham Lincoln High School because he did not show "black lives mattered to him" is MISSING CONTEXT. It is true that a renaming committee included Abraham Lincoln High School on a list of 44 schools whose namesakes met its renaming criteria. But the committee has not finalized its recommendations, and the school board has not voted on the name changes — so at this time, it's not accurate to say that the school will be renamed.
Our fact-check sources:
San Francisco Unified School District, accessed Dec. 20, School Names Advisory Committee
ABC 7 News, Sept. 26, San Francisco Unified identifies 44 schools eligible to be renamed
San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 14, Abraham Lincoln, once a hero, is now a bad guy in some S.F. education circles
San Francisco Unified School District, Oct. 16, Statement from SF Board of Education President Mark Sanchez Regarding the School Names Advisory Committee and Reopening SF Public Schools to In-Person Instruction
SFGate, Dec. 16, Latest twist in SF school renaming controversy catches Trump's eye
Donald J. Trump, Dec. 16, tweet
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: San Francisco's Abraham Lincoln HS name change isn't final