WCVB Channel 5 in Boston is reporting that Boston has approved a plan to change the name of Yawkey Way, the street outside Fenway Park named in honor of a former Red Sox owner some have said was racist. Tom Yawkey owned the Boston Red Sox for 43 years, from 1933 to 1976. The Red Sox were the last baseball team to hire an African-American player, and Tom Yawkey is supposed to have screamed out racial slurs at black players at a tryout. In 1977 Jersey Street was renamed Yawkey Way.
Channel 5 reports:
Yawkey’s supporters opposed the change, saying the foundation named for him has provided millions of dollars in charitable contributions that have benefited all city residents.
“As we have said throughout this process, the effort to expunge Tom Yawkey’s name has been based on a false narrative about his life and his historic 43-year ownership of the Red Sox. The drastic step of renaming the street, now officially sanctioned by the City of Boston (and contradicting the honor the City bestowed upon Tom Yawkey over 40 years ago), will unfortunately give lasting credence to that narrative and unfairly tarnish his name, despite his unparalleled record of transforming the Red Sox and Fenway Park and supporting the city he loved through his philanthropy,” the statement read.
I have no idea whether or not Tom Yawkey was a racist, but that was then and this is now. Mr. Yawkey has done a lot of good things for the city of Boston, and it is ridiculous to rename a street named after him because of non-proven accusations of inappropriate actions which unfortunately were reflective of the time and community he was part of. We need to remember that there was a time in our country when racism was acceptable. Thank goodness, it is no longer acceptable although it does still exist. Isn’t it time to move forward rather than to hold on to old misdeeds?