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Letters to the Editor: Four California giant sequoias are named after Robert E. Lee. That’s a disgrace

Sequoia National Park
Several notable trees in California are named after Robert E. Lee. Above, a giant Sequioa tree in Sequoia National Park.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: National parks are opening up across America, and rules have changed as the National Park Service phases in visitors. However, one thing hasn’t changed in some of our most treasured parks in California.

There are still four magnificent redwoods named for a despicable American traitor, Robert E. Lee. One is not just any tree, but the fifth-largest redwood in the world, and it stands in Kings Canyon’s General Grant Grove.

It is past time for all references to this violent defender of slavery to be removed from places of public honor. They certainly have no place in California. I propose this tree be renamed for the great abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass. He is a more fitting complement to the nearby tree named for Ulysses S. Grant.

In regard to the three additional awe-inspiring trees named for Lee (in Yosemite, Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia National Park), I propose they be named for Cesar Chavez, the famed Japanese American 442nd Infantry Regiment and Rosa Parks. They are all deserving giants who fought for freedom and democracy.

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Jill Fields, Los Angeles

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To the editor: When I took my daughter to Washington in 2019 for Nancy Pelosi’s second swearing-in as House speaker, we toured the Capitol building’s National Statuary Hall, where each state is allowed to send two statues.

Alabama commissioned and donated a statue of Helen Keller, and a sculpture of a seated Rosa Parks also sits in the hall.

California? We are represented by Ronald Reagan and Junipero Serra. Not unlike your average colonizer, Serra is known by many for his subjugation and forced labor of the local population conducted in support of his religious goals.

I would like to suggest that national heroes Cesar Chavez and Sally Ride replace them. Individual states may rotate their statues out 20 years, and the effort must originate in their legislatures.

As we are now reexamining the public monuments used to represent our values, the time has come for us to reflect a more inclusive and aspirational California in the National Statuary Hall.

Sarah Bradshaw, Los Angeles


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