Organizers and supporters of an online petition are aiming to change the name of Dight Avenue in Minneapolis, which is named after a eugenicist.
The petition on Change.org had reached more than 300 signatures as of Tuesday morning, with a goal of 500. It states that the street name is harmful to people with disabilities and asks Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minneapolis City Council to change it. The street runs parallel to Hiawatha Avenue in the Howe neighborhood.
Dight Avenue is named after Charles Fremont Dight, who is described by the Minnesota Historical Society's MNopedia as "Minnesota’s most avid and consistent supporter of eugenics." He worked as a University of Minnesota professor and was elected to the Minneapolis City Council in 1914, all while leading a "crusade" to bring eugenics to the state.
As the Gale Family Library explains:
"Dight organized the Minnesota Eugenics Society in 1923 and began campaigning for a sterilization law. In 1925 the Minnesota legislature passed a law allowing the sterilization of the 'feeble–minded' and insane who were resident in the state's institutions. For the next several legislative sessions Dight fought unsuccessfully for expansion of the law to include sterilization of the 'unfit' who lived outside of institutions."
In 1933, he wrote a letter to German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, in which he voiced support for Hitler’s intentions to “stamp out mental inferiority” in Germany. Hitler responded, thanking Dight and inviting him to a lecture in Munich, MNopedia says.
Dight died in 1938.
“Dight not only founded the Minnesota Eugenics society but actively pursued the same type of eugenics as Nazi scientists such as Josef Mengele,” the Change.org petition reads. “This sort of legacy should not be recognized or lauded anywhere.”