San Francisco has renamed Phelan Avenue to Frida Kahlo Way, and city officials celebrated the occasion with the unveiling of new street signs.
“This represents the end of a repressive symbol” and shines “the light on a symbol of hope celebrating San Francisco’s rich diversity,” Supervisor Norman Yee said at a news conference. “We will not tolerate exclusion, racism and hatred of our communities.”
The former Phelan Avenue was named after James Phelan, the father of James D. Phelan, who served as San Francisco’s mayor from 1897 to 1902, and later as a U.S. senator. During his tenure, the younger Phelan was known for supporting racist and anti-immigrant policies. That association, Yee said, prompted interest in renaming the street.
The newly christened Frida Kahlo Way runs along the western edge of the City College of San Francisco’s main campus in the city’s Ingleside neighborhood, which lies in Yee’s district.
Yee’s legislation to rename the street after Kahlo was approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors in June, following approval of a similar resolution by the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees in February. Kahlo’s name was selected and voted on for the street through a community process led by Yee, according to his office.
Kahlo, an internationally known Mexican artist and social rights activist who died in 1954, was married to the famous muralist Diego Rivera. The unveiling event was held in the college’s Diego Rivera Theatre, in front of Rivera’s “Pan American Unity” mural, which includes a depiction of Kahlo.
“The community’s choice to rename the street to Frida Kahlo Way represents the wider, international movement to recognize more women and their contributions in public office and public places,” Yee’s office said. “As a queer woman of color, with several disabilities, Kahlo also represents several historically underrepresented communities.”
“The renaming of the street is an important historical act that advances the rights of immigrants” and recognizes their contribution “to San Francisco’s history of progress towards social justice,” City College of San Francisco Chancellor Mark Rocha said in a statement. “To rename the street in honor of Frida Kahlo lifts the street name out of the realm of politics and into the inspiring world of art.”
Story originally published by Bay City News.