Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood reckons with its namesake’s KKK ties
Author: Adam McCoy - December 13, 2017 - Updated: December 13, 2017
What’s in a name? While some people might hear Stapleton and think of the old Denver airport or the burgeoning Denver neighborhood, others cringe at its origins.
Named after the five-term Denver Mayor Benjamin Stapleton starting in the 1920s — and member of the Ku Klux Klan who helped position Klan members throughout city government — some Denverites have in the past unsuccessfully tried to spur a name change. During the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, the Klan had its hand in every pocket of state and city government, the Colorado Independent reports.
However, there’s promising movement for proponents of a name change. Signage was recently removed from the shopping center at East 29th Avenue and Quebec Street, though Forest City Stapleton Vice President Tom Gleason, the upscale infill neighborhood’s developer, downplayed any perceived significance, Denverite reports.
Community forums were also set up earlier this week to discuss a name change. They were hosted by Nita Mosby Tyler of the Equity Project, an expert in driving difficult conversations surrounding race and diversity. The meetings will “inform the next steps, but they won’t determine it,” according to Denverite.
The time might be right considering the national atmosphere and focus on removing symbols of our history with origins in racism. However, there are still residents on the other side of the discussion. Even the leaders behind the movement argue there are more important issues to tackle, as Denverite notes:
“Changing the name is more symbolic than substantive,” said Gregory Diggs, a leader in Rename St*pleton. “My personal position is that there’s a lot of more meaningful work that needs to be done on housing and programming and relationships and education than changing the name. But if people don’t want to change the name, how can that more substantive work be done?”