DENVER | A Denver neighborhood has voted to change its name after a yearslong debate over its association with a former mayor who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Stapleton residents voted Saturday to rebrand the neighborhood as Central Park, The Denver Post reported. Central Park, an ode to the green space that runs through the area, beat “Skyview” in the final round of voting by community members, earning 63% of the more than 5,800 votes cast.
“It’s our sincere hope that each one of us … treats this moment with fresh eyes and a common goal to treat each other with kindness, compassion and respect,” said Amanda Allshouse, the president of the board of Stapleton United Neighbors.
The neighborhood was named for Benjamin F. Stapleton and was built on the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. Stapleton was Denver’s mayor for 20 years between 1923 and 1947.
More than 65% of voting property owners opted to retain the Stapleton name in a referendum last summer. But the death of George Floyd and the ensuing unrest renewed the debate.
Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground. His death prompted protests across the U.S. and around the world against police brutality and racial injustice.
JuJu Nkrumah has been fighting to change the neighborhood’s name since the 1990s, before people had even moved in. She long avoided going to the area, viewing the name as a slap in the face to Black people such as her.
“I give thanks and appreciation to my ancestors,” Nkrumah said. “I’m so sorry they had to live with that in their face for so long. It’s finally going to be over.”
Walker Stapleton, the great-grandson of the former mayor, tweeted in June that he was disappointed the democratic process represented by previous resident votes was being overlooked.
But Walker Stapleton — a former gubernatorial candidate and state treasurer — said he supported the name change if it “brings more equity, fairness and opportunity” for Denver residents and Colorado residents of color.