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Confederate confusion surrounds Lincoln Heights street name

LINCOLN HEIGHTS – Was Johnston Street named after a Confederate general or his son?  That’s an important distinction because, in a report published last year by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the street was included among 1,500 Confederate symbols in public spaces nationwide.  The author of that report now calls Johnston Street’s place on that list a mistake, according to  Curbed L.A.

Johnston Street was not – probably not – named after Albert Sidney Johnston, a Confederate general who lived in this neighborhood before bleeding to death in the Civil War. The street, which stretches nearly 1-1/2 miles from  a commercial area on the south to a hilly residential area on the north, seems to be named after his son, Hancock M. Johnston, says Curbed L.A. Hancock Johnston helped subdivide the land – and helped name the streets.

Not that Hancock Johnston wasn’t his father’s son in certain respects. It would have rankled him greatly when this neighborhood – formerly known as East Los Angeles – was renamed after Abraham Lincoln in 1917. LA Weekly notes that Hancock Johnston and his uncle – Dr. John Strother Griffin, credited as the founder of the neighborhood – considered Lincoln a “despot” and “tyrant.”

And since there are few planning records and nothing in writing that confirms the intent of the name, L.A.’s archivist, Michael Holland, says it’s still possible Johnston Street was named to honor Johnston’s family, or even the elder Johnston – the highest ranking general on either side to be killed during the Civil War.

But we at least know this: One block east of Johnston Street (and two blocks from Griffin Street, named for Dr. Griffin) – is Hancock Street. That one definitely isn’t named after the general.

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11 comments

  1. Oh come on – are these the seeds the PC left is planting to rename Johnston? Leave Johnson St alone! Johnston St is a land marker on how we give directions around here: “Big Savers. Which one? The one by Johnston”. “The Rodriguez family. Which one? The one on Johnston”…. Dig deep enough and you will find truly disturbing things about anyone worthy enough to get a street, monument or school named after them. No one worth remembering just sat around on his butt through life without ruffling a few feathers. Jeeze.

    • Agreed – This is getting a little absurd. I bet that 100% of all people living in Los Angels at one point or another did or said something that if recorded, and put in YouTube, would make them look like a horrible person. I think as a society, we need to ask this question (regarding statues, street names, celebrities, our neighbors, our family, and even our friends): Is this a good person who did a bad thing or supported a bad cause – or – is this just a bad person? If the latter, how do we define “a bad person?”

      • I dunno, this seems like an easy line to draw, for me: if the person was an active traitor rebelling against the United States for the right to own other people, they probably shouldn’t have streets named after them.

        • First off, I don’t know ANYTHING about this individual or his family, but assuming he in fact owned slaves and was fighting for the confederate army for the sole purpose of keeping slaves, I certainly understand your position and from an idealistic point of view, I would agree – let’s change th name.

          Now let’s consider the practical aspects of the situation – people run businesses and live on the street. Thousands of maps identify the street – all will have to be changes for what? What’s the history of this guy? Doesn ANYONE even know or care – do you personally know his history? What about every other street in LA? What about the mob influence on Hollywood or the Mexican or Spanish settlers colonizing the land, or even the natives – who owned slaves out of that group? Who sploited for profit, power, and gold? Do we strip the city of their past too? What about today? How do you feel about the exploitation of other countries so as Americans, we can have cheap consumer goods – think Foxconn (Apple), big oil, the hundreds of fast fashion manufacturers across the globe. What about banning America of these toxic practices?

          In my opinion, we are all hypocrites (including myself). We want to stand up and protest street signs because it’s convenient (doesn’t really affect us) and makes us feel morally superior, but when it comes to issues that actually hurt people’s lives TODAY, we all just turn a blind eye – I’m sure you are not geoing to toss your car or iPhone or diamond engagement ring or bank account – all things that xploit other people today. But let’s fight over a sign with a name of a dead guy that no one has given a second thought about for newrly 100 years until today…

          • Sorry for the typos…stupid Foxconn made iPad 😉

          • Just because we can’t fix every mistake doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fix some mistakes.

            I don’t disagree with your point at large, but I don’t think the answer is “well, we all suck, so let’s never do better.”

          • Although we all kinda suck 😉, I personally would rather use the time, effort, and money to exert influence moving forward instead of worrying about changing a street sign…for example, offering additional meals to training to the homeless or even cleaning up all the trash a debris in the 101. Anyway, just my two cents…

  2. Change the name to a Latino name for the traitors

  3. WOW!!!!! When is this sht going to end!? Even emojis got switched because of sensitive people needed brown and black emojis….. Earth is doomed.

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