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Press Contact: Matthai Chakko, (510) 981-7008

HELP PICK A NEW NAME FOR A TWO-BLOCK STRETCH OF SHATTUCK
Finalists are: Kala Bagai, Maggie Gee, William Byron Rumford, Anna Saylor, Sitha Vemireddy, and Ohlone

Berkeley, California (Tuesday, February 18, 2020) - Help us rename a street in the heart of downtown Berkeley! We've reviewed hundreds of community suggestions, narrowed the list to six finalists, and now, we want to know which one you'd pick.

The six suggestions will come to name what was once a two block stretch known as Shattuck Avenue "East," a street that is taking on a new identity after the City re-aligned traffic in December to make Shattuck into a continuous two-way street.

These names were chosen through a community process seeking historical and cultural significance with an emphasis on representing those traditionally overlooked in Berkeley.

These names represent a variety of communities, identities and issues. Read up on them below, and do your own research if you like. Share your choice by completing a short online survey by 5 p.m. on Feb. 26.

The six finalists

The Public Works Commission final list includes the following names, identified in part by brief write-ups from the Commission:

  • Kala Bagai, who earned the nickname "Mother India" for her pioneering work overcoming institutional and community racism to organize California's South Asian immigrants. Bagai and her husband bought a home in Berkeley after moving to the US in 1915, but were physically barred from moving in by white neighbors.
  • Maggie Gee, a UC Berkeley educated physicist who trained male pilots for combat and ferried military aircraft during World War II as part of the women's civilian air force. She was one of only two Chinese American women to serve in the organization, and later received the Congressional Gold Medal for her service.
  • William Byron Rumford, a Berkeley pharmacist and activist who represented Berkeley in the California State Assembly from 1948 to 1966.  Rumford is best known for passing the California Fair Employment Practices Act and the Fair Housing Act, which outlawed discrimination in hiring and housing.
  • Anna Saylor, a Berkeley librarian and suffragist. In 1918, seven years after California women won the right to vote, Saylor became one of the first four women elected to the California state legislature. As an Assemblymember, she successfully abolished the death penalty for minors and established psychiatric clinics in state prisons. 
  • Sitha Vemireddy, a teen who died after being smuggled into the US by a major Berkeley landlord. Her death sparked a federal investigation that ultimately exposed a large human trafficking operation, with help from reporting by the Berkeley High Jacket.
  • Ohlone, or another indigenous name identified after consultation with the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, an indigenous tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area and other indigenous native peoples.

The survey results will be shared with the City Council when they choose the final name at their March 24 meeting.

A community-driven process

This survey marks last stage in a public process that started in October with a giant chalkboard on Shattuck. We took suggestions over email and social media, visited an elementary school, and held a community meeting. Neighbors, boy scouts, and even Oski offered ideas.  

An advisory committee of community stakeholders reviewed all 913 suggestions and picked ten to recommend to the Public Works Commission, which then whittled the list to six names. For questions, contact Kieron Slaughter at kslaughter@cityofberkeley.info or (510) 981-2490.

Help us choose a name that reflects Berkeley's values, history, and vision for the future by completing the survey on Berkeley Considers by Feb. 26.

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