9NEWS reports on an increasingly hot topic in the affluent northeast Denver neighborhood built over the former Stapleton International Airport:
Two community forums were held Tuesday to discuss the use of the name ‘Stapleton’ — in a building with the name ‘Stapleton’ above both entrances.
Change The Name Stapleton held two meetings at The Cube near Northfield Stapleton.
“I heard everything from, ‘I am diabolically opposed to a name change’ to, ‘It is absolutely what we need to do to have social justice.’ And, to me, that’s the best thing you can ever hear is to have that spectrum of opinion on a very complicated topic,” said moderator Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler.
The “topic” is, of course, that former Denver mayor Ben Stapleton “had ties” to the Ku Klux Klan before and during his long administration of the city–a tenure running from 1923-1947 with a four-year gap between 1931 and 1935. To say that Stapleton “had ties” to the KKK is a bit of an understatement; Stapleton was in fact himself Klansman #1128, and after early denials openly appointed members of the KKK to city government–leading to an unsuccessful attempt at a recall. Later as the KKK lost popularity he turned against his former allies, but by no account we’ve read became repentant a la Robert Byrd or other publicly rehabilitated Klansmen.
All of which does rightly lead to the question, should the Stapleton neighborhood keep its controversial name? In recent years as the movement to take down monuments to the Confederacy and other commemorations of racists and racism across the nation has accelerated, this has repeatedly bubbled up as a topic of discussion. We don’t see any sign of that lessening, and the diverse and generally liberal residents of this Denver neighborhood might well decide a change is necessary at some point. That’s not a rejection of the city’s history, more of acknowledgment of the city’s diverse reality today. Which we readily concede the KKK wouldn’t be very pleased to see.
Above all, Colorado Republicans ask, please don’t hold this against the great-grandkids!
But perhaps Walker Stapleton has something to say about it, and that would certainly be a headline.