Opinion: If Stanford won’t tolerate Junipero Serra’s name on campus, what will it do about Leland Stanford?

People walk through the Stanford University campus in 2014.
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

To the editor: So, the politically correct activists at Stanford University want to remove St. Junipero Serra’s name from their sanctimonious institute. Fine. (“Stanford can take Junipero Serra’s name off its buildings, but it can’t purge him from its history,” Opinion, Nov. 30)

However, I think they should first look into the record of their founder, Leland Stanford, who didn’t even bother to hide his racist view of Chinese people by saying to the state Legislature in 1862, “The presence of numbers of that degraded and distinct people would exercise a deleterious effect upon the superior race.”

I suggest to the activists that they try to remove this blatant white supremacist’s name from their institute before dabbling with anyone else. Otherwise, their demands ring hollow.


Kee Kim, La Habra


To the editor: Stanford alumna Charlotte Allen asserts that “Serra could be said to have invented the Golden State” — belying that archaeologists have now traced human habitation in California as far back as 130,000 years.

California’s indigenous peoples defined the region long before the arrival of the fathers and soldiers. The infamous Camino Real existed as a trade route before any Spaniard walked it.

It’s time to look beyond the mission fathers’ planting of fruit orchards to consider the horrific labor conditions that the Spanish imposed on the natives in their massive relocation program. It’s also time to consider the lasting environmental damage that resulted from the introduction of livestock and non-native agriculture.

Regardless of whether Stanford University changes its landmarks’ names, it is time to acknowledge the native presence that is still here.

Pamela Nagler, Claremont



To the editor: Allen struck just the right note.

The worst time for the California Indians was not under Spanish rule or the mission system, but under American domination after an unjust war of aggression and expansion. Some historians today do not hesitate to call it genocide.

The true villain is James K. Polk, the president who maneuvered the country into an immoral war for which he was opposed by a congressman named Abraham Lincoln.

Stafford Poole, Los Angeles

The writer, a Roman Catholic priest and historian, is the author of several books on the history of colonial Mexico.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook