Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Fresno's Armenians Finally To Have a School Named After One of Their Own
gvw_nancy_price
By Nancy Price, Multimedia Journalist
Published 3 years ago on
October 14, 2021

Share

The quest by Fresno’s Armenian community to have a Fresno Unified school named for an Armenian ended Wednesday night when trustees voted unanimously to change the name of Forkner Elementary School to H. Roger Tatarian Elementary.

The board’s vote came after multiple speakers addressed the board on both sides of the issue, with Armenians urging the board to change the school name and members of the Forkner community, including Principal Ryan Duff, imploring the board to maintain the status quo for the northwest Fresno school.

Duff said that students and staff at the school already have had to deal with the impacts of the pandemic, school closures, school reopening, and now are buffeted by the renaming debate.

Watch:Residents Protest the Renaming

The vote to rename Forkner, named for Fig Garden developer J.C. Forkner, put trustees in a similar situation as they were a few months ago when they voted to name the new alternative education campus at 10th Street and Ventura Avenue for local philanthropists Francine and Murray Farber instead of Tatarian — pleasing some people but angering others.

On Wednesday night it was the Forkner crowd who angrily shouted as they left the board room after the vote, prompting a Fresno police officer monitoring the meeting to move in among them.

Tatarian was a Fresno native who achieved worldwide fame as editor of United Press International and who, unlike the Farbers, was overwhelmingly supported in a community survey conducted by the district on the 10th and Ventura campus naming.

The Armenian community lobbied to name the campus for Tatarian, noting that it’s in the neighborhood where he grew up and where Armenians lived because they were prevented from buying homes elsewhere in the city.

First Fresno Unified School Named for Armenian

Even though Armenians make up about 7% of Fresno’s population, the city’s largest school district had no schools named for an Armenian before Wednesday’s renaming vote, which came after a lengthy comment period by community members and trustees.

Author/journalist Mark Arax, who with his cousin researched Forkner’s role in mandating racial segregation in his residential developments, commented somewhat disparagingly to the Forkner audience members, “We’ve been doing this for six months, it’s nice for you to finally show up.”

But Forkner parents responded that no one from the district attempted to hold meetings or otherwise notify parents and alumni that a name change was under consideration.

Community speakers included Fresno County Assessor Paul Dictos who confirmed that the deed covenants Forkner wrote for residential sales kept people of color from making home purchases that would have allowed their families to build equity and wealth. Some of the racially restrictive deeds remained in effect for decades, even as late as the 1980s, Dictos said.

The renaming came close to being delayed when several trustees, after hearing complaints from Forkner community members that the board has not yet established a process for renaming schools, moved to table the decision until after that process has been created.

Wednesday’s agenda also include a proposal to name five trustee-nominated citizens and three district employees to a committee that will recommend how the board should go about renaming facilities in the future. Forkner supporters and several trustees argued that renaming the school before allowing the renaming committee to make its recommendation  was putting “the cart before the horse.”

But in the end, the original motion to replace Forkner’s name with Tatarian’s was voted on and passed unanimously.

The cost to change the school’s name is estimated at about $150,000, primarily for signage.

DON'T MISS

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

DON'T MISS

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

DON'T MISS

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

DON'T MISS

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

DON'T MISS

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

DON'T MISS

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

DON'T MISS

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

DON'T MISS

Dr. Green Thumb’s Is Open. Sweet Flower Debuts Saturday in Fresno Cannabis Rollout.

DON'T MISS

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

DON'T MISS

Community Leaders Call for Transparency in Fresno Superintendent Search

UP NEXT

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

UP NEXT

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

UP NEXT

Community Leaders Call for Transparency in Fresno Superintendent Search

UP NEXT

Several Writers Decline Recognition From PEN America in Protest Over Its Israel-Hamas War Stance

UP NEXT

US Consumer Sentiment Falls Slightly as Outlook for Inflation Worsens

UP NEXT

Tennessee Lawmakers Send Bill to Ban First-Cousin Marriages to Governor

UP NEXT

Instagram Blurs Nude Messages to Protect Teens, Fight Sexual Extortion

UP NEXT

Harvard Again Requiring Standardized Test Scores for Those Seeking Admission

UP NEXT

Bob Nelson Breaks Silence on Fresno Unified Superintendent Search

UP NEXT

Wife of Julian Assange Says Biden’s Comments Mean Case Could Be Moving in the Right Direction

Nancy Price,
Multimedia Journalist
Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

14 hours ago

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

1 day ago

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

1 day ago

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

1 day ago

Dr. Green Thumb’s Is Open. Sweet Flower Debuts Saturday in Fresno Cannabis Rollout.

1 day ago

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

1 day ago

Community Leaders Call for Transparency in Fresno Superintendent Search

1 day ago

Israeli Settlers Rampage Through a West Bank Village, Killing 1 Palestinian and Wounding 25

1 day ago

US Intelligence Finding Shows China Surging Equipment Sales to Russia to Help War Effort in Ukraine

1 day ago

From Tragedy to Triumph: The Land Before Time Litter’s Journey

1 day ago

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

When Sacramento changed its plan to demolish a homeless encampment on a vacant lot on Colfax Street, instead offering the homeless occupants...

12 hours ago

12 hours ago

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

13 hours ago

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

14 hours ago

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

14 hours ago

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

1 day ago

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

1 day ago

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

1 day ago

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

1 day ago

Dr. Green Thumb’s Is Open. Sweet Flower Debuts Saturday in Fresno Cannabis Rollout.

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend