On Tuesday, a petition at Change.org popped up to change the name of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail to something … it doesn’t say what, but not Tony Knowles.
Knowles was a two-time governor and former mayor of Anchorage. The petition also cites him as a member of the Democratic Party, which has a racist heritage, and a beneficiary of white privilege who attended a school founded by a slave trader — Yale University. Also, he’s an “oilman,” another apparent strike against him.
“The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail that runs along Knik Arm in Anchorage bears the name of a politician — Tony Knowles, a former Democratic Party governor who was also an oil man from Oklahoma,” the petition states.
According to the petition, which was started by Sherri Jackson, the trail crosses land that has been used by indigenous people for 1,000 years and should not bear the name of a person who belongs to the political party that fought to preserve slavery in the 1800s, and the party that opposed the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s.
“Further, Tony Knowles graduated from Yale University, which was founded by a wealthy slave trader. His successes in life are owed to his white privilege and education at a university founded on the same white privilege,” Jackson’s petition states.
“We believe the naming of this trail should be given to the Village of Eklutna so it can bear the name of a tribal leader, rather than a paid politician.”
The petition is addressed to Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and, as of this writing, has eight signatures.
Recently, Berkowitz gave the fate of the Captain James Cook statue at Resolution Park, just above the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, to the Village of Eklutna to decide. A handful of activists posted their names on a petition to have the statue removed, but it’s now a decision that the chief of the Eklutna Village will make.