Your friendly neighborhood Klan member, at Fanning Elementary—stay classy, Brea!
Your friendly neighborhood Klan member, at Fanning Elementary—stay classy, Brea!
Photo by Jack Gould

Petition: Rename William E. Fanning Elementary School in Brea 'Cause He Was a Klan Member

No one reads the Weekly in real time, and nowhere is this more evident than in a recent petition that asks the Brea Olinda Unified School District Board of Education to rename William E. Fanning Elmentary School because he was a bona fide, verified member of the Ku Klux Klan. Their proof? An article I wrote in my "OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members"...back in 2011. About damn time, people!

But people do read the Weekly, because this action was sparked after I had to refresh Brea about their Ku Klux Klan past earlier this year. The petition argues that having an elementary school named after Fanning—who just so happened to be the city's first superintendent—is no longer kosher in today's Brea because it ain't the notorious sundown town anymore of cute blondes who make out at Craig Regional Park, and whose boy's football team can't understand Spanish:

This year marks the hundred-year anniversary of Brea, and many celebrations have ensued. This would be the perfect moment to turn over a new leaf of race relations in Brea as well. At the end of the day, William E. Fanning is only a name, but changing the school’s name can also be a new beginning. This is not the same Brea that began one hundred years ago, when people of color were not allowed to take part in civic life, but it is the beginning of a day where we can continue to build on the strengths of the Brea community, realizing that there is strength in our differences. By changing the name of Fanning Elementary, we can change the perception of Brea and continue to create a culture of acceptance, love and justice.


The petition already has over 600 signatures, and the people behind it plan to make their case before the school board at their next meeting on September 25. See you there!

Postscript: Lest people pull a Chrissie Epting and portray me to be some Svengali pulling levers across OC to eradicate Orange County's past: I have nothing to do with this other than the original articles. Some of the organizers behind the petition did ask for my help...in proving my own story. See, they didn't believe me when I said that the list I used to expose Fanning and others was the same list used by former OC District Attorney Alexander P. Nelson to shame away the KKK in OC during the 1920s and was 100% real. And they still didn't believe the validity of the list after some of them saw it at the Anaheim History Room. I told them I'm not in the business of proving my stories, and told them to slag off.

What finally convinced them of its authenticity and my veracity? That it's also on file at the Library of Congress because a brave soul back in the 1920s (rumored to be one of the Ganahls of Ganahl Lumber fame) mailed it to Washington so that the list would never be destroyed and future generations would know the truth. I knew that, but I let the doubting Thomases find out on their own by reading a 700-page dissertation haha. Hey, pinche pendejo do-gooders: the Weekly don't lie.

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