Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Two Fort Bragg Students Win a Total of $1,500 for the ‘Change Our Name’ Essay Contest


The following is a press release issued by Change Our Name Fort Bragg:

Change Our Name, a local 501c3 non-profit incorporated in the state of California handed out checks totaling $1500 to two Fort Bragg High School students on Saturday, June 3, at 5 p.m. in an award ceremony held at the Pacific Textile Arts patio in Fort Bragg. 

The essay contest invited students at FBHS to write on the prompt of their choosing: either (a) The name of Fort Bragg High School should be changed or (b) The name of Fort Bragg High School should not be changed. The contest kicked off in February 2023.

The First Place essay was written by Carmen Velazquez who won $1,000 and the Second Place essay was written by Josephine Erickson who won $500. Ms. Velazquez read her winning essay to the gathered crowd of 30+ people at the event. The essay can be read in full online here: https://www.changeournamefortbragg.com/winning-essay

The five judges, all educators and/or writers themselves and unaffiliated with Change Our Name, were:

  Jane Person past president of the League of Women Voters and scholarship chair for the Mendocino Study Club. As a high school English teacher she taught Advanced Placement English and Advanced English. 

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Loreto Rojas is a teacher of Spanish at Mendocino Community College, an interpreter and translator, and is the co-host of MendoLatino, a public affairs program in Spanish on KZYX. 

Susan Lundgren is the immediate past President of the Writers of the Mendocino Coast and a well published author 

Esmeralda Plasencia is a Community Outreach Specialist at Mendocino Land Trust, a Teacher Naturalist at Mendocino Woodlands Camp Association and a graduate of Fort Bragg High School 

Margaret Reiter a retired lawyer, formerly worked in the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the California Attorney General.

Change Our Name is dedicated to educating residents to the need to change the name of the city of Fort Bragg since the present name, adopted in 1881, includes both an homage to the military Fort which helped wage genocide against the local indigenous population and Braxton Bragg, who enslaved 105 men, women and children on his Louisiana plantation and later served as a General in the Confederate Army where he waged war against our country. 

Change Our Name plans to continue this essay contest each year until the name of the high school and our city have been changed. Fort Bragg Middle School and Fort Bragg High School remain the only public schools in the state of California honoring a traitor and enslaver, and a genocide. The city of Fort Bragg now stands as the only locality named for Braxton Bragg. Fort Bragg, North Carolina was renamed Fort Liberty on June 2, 2023 by order of Congress.

You can learn more about Change Our Name here: www.changeournamefortbragg.com

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  1. Dear Carmen, I just read your essay and I was impressed with your writing. Well thought out and put together.

  2. Look at the “works cited” for the essay. Mostly opinion pieces. Wonder if anyone against the name change had a flying chance to win?

    • The 5 accomplished judges (teachers and writers) used an MLA rubric which valued grammar, clear writing, and research. No points were given for the writer’s personal conclusions. Why not engage with the ideas of the essay itself?

      • What ideas? Nothing original was presented, just a regurgitation of others’ “research”. Publish the other essays.

  3. Should something like this even be involved in the school? Seems to have a overwhelming ability to be biased and appears a opinion can be bought.
    If chevy had a contest on whether chevy trucks were the best trucks ever, and you had to write a essay on your opinion. And if your essay won you would win a brand new 4 x4 chevy truck. I certainly wouldn’t write a essay about Toyota being the best truck now would I ?

    • If you read the article it had nothing to do with FBHS. Instead of questioning motivations why not engage with the ideas and facts in the essay?

    • If your dad the article you would learn the school was not involved. Why not engage with the ideas of the essay itself?

  4. Philip Zwerling. You state that it’s not biased and just about Grammer and such, if so why the is essay about your nonprofit? Your passing your opinion on through a contest to teenagers offering cash. And also the numbers are overwhelmingly high for keeping the names. And God why do people visit a place , love it, move there, then want to change everything about it?

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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