By Bethaney Lee
The board of trustees voted unanimously at their Feb. 22 meeting to express their support for renaming Phelan Avenue, which runs along Ocean Campus, to Frida Kahlo Way.
The avenue, named after the father of former Mayor James Phelan, has become associated with the mayor himself.
“Phelan’s son ran a very racist campaign as senator and mayor and that is why USF changed their building name and that is why we changed our building name. But right now our street is used to recognize this man,” said Student Trustee Bouthaina Belayadi. “I believe street names should be people who have accomplished and represent social justice. Phelan does none of that.”
Yolanda Lopez, a globally renowned artist known for her feminist ideology which challenges ethnic stereotypes, was present to show her support. Together with Interdisciplinary Instructor Leslie Simo, they read a tribute Lopez had written.
“The eccentrically beautiful and talented Frida Kahlo came to San Francisco to join her then ex-husband (master artist, Diego Rivera) during the era of World War II and America’s economic depression. Frida Kahlo has been a part of San Francisco’s DNA almost 80 years,” said Simon. “Her legacy since the 1970 second wave of feminism and the San Francisco State University third world strike for ethnic studies stems from here in the Mission District and through the fabulous portrait her husband painted of her.”
Lopez said for a time Kahlo had almost been totally forgotten and suffered from polio but became renowned for her contributions. “Aside from what we are addressing here today these art entities are a gift to all of San Francisco from the Mission’s Latino community,” said Lopez while adding, “Frida Kahlo Way has a very nice ring to it.”