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SDUSD Board votes to change Lindbergh-Schweitzer Elementary name to Clairemont Canyons Academy

After concerns over namesake's controversial pasts
Lindbergh Schweitzer Elem school name change.png
Posted at 4:57 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 19:59:11-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Members of the San Diego Unified School District Board voted to change the name of Lindbergh-Schweitzer Elementary School to Clairemont Canyons Academy Tuesday night. The change was made after the community brought forth concerns about the namesake's controversial pasts.

"We listened to their [the community's] concerns, and we respect their concerns, and now we agree that it's time to change our name," parent and teacher Karin Wehsener said at the virtual meeting Tuesday.

The school, built in 1961, was named Albert Schweitzer, a medical missionary who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952, and Charles Lindbergh, the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927.

"It was not just a United States accomplishment. It was really a worldwide recognition of the growth of technology and certainly of aviation itself because the aviation world just broke open from then on," San Diego Air and Space Museum President and CEO Jim Kidrick said.

The men are heroes in their respective fields but also shrouded in controversy. Lindbergh accepted an aviation award on Adolf Hitler's behalf that drew outrage and blamed Jews for pushing the United States into World War II. Dr. Schweitzer voiced racist views about Africans during his time in French Equatorial Africa.

In a diverse area like Clairemont, the community began a petition to change the school name in 2016.

"This moment in history has been driven by revelations of Anti-Semitic and racist histories of many people, two of which our school has been named after," Lindbergh-Schweitzer Elementary alumnus Maria Hussane said.

At Tuesday night's San Diego Unified School District Board meeting, the five members unanimously voted to change the school name to Clairemont Canyons Academy immediately.

This comes 18 years after Lindbergh Field was renamed San Diego International Airport. At the time, the Airport Authority did not say the name change was due to Lindbergh's controversial remarks. Instead, it said it was a better fit for a major commercial airport.

For Kidrick, taking out Lindbergh's name is like erasing history.

"I think we do our nation a disservice because we understand that we are human beings. And being human beings, we are flawed," Kidrick said. "I think it's important to recognize those moments in history that are so game-changing that we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge them."