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Field Dedication to African-American Educators

NEWS RELEASE: District, Students, City Leaders Dedicate Field Posthumously Named After African-American Educators
Posted on 08/09/2021





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News Release

District, Students, City Leaders Dedicate Field Posthumously Named After African-American Educators

August 9, 2021

SAN DIEGO - Nearly eight decades after Pacific Beach Middle School (PBMS) saw its first African-American educator, students joined community, district and city leaders Thursday to dedicate the joint-use field and community park to him and his wife.

New signage now displays “The Fannie and William Payne Joint-Use Field and Community Park,” a symbol of the adversity the Paynes overcame in the 1940s.

As the first African-American teacher at PBMS, Mr. Payne endured a coordinated effort from the Pacific Beach community to remove him as a teacher because of the color of his skin. More than 1900 residents petitioned for his termination, but the San Diego Unified Superintendent, Will C. Crawford, defended Mr. Payne, stating he employed him based on training, experience and character.

“Mr. Crawford was a catalyst for change in the district and inspired generations of local leaders, educators and students,” said Richard Barrera, Board of Education President.

That inspiration transcended to 2020, when two local Pacific Beach residents began the process of dedicating the field to Fannie and William Payne.

“We saw the George Floyd protests and started thinking about how we can do better in the Pacific Beach community to acknowledge the African-Americans who overcame immense adversity,” said local resident and community activist Paige Hernandez, who also serves as the Director of Student Retention and Success at San Diego State University.

Hernandez, along with the help of resident and community activist Regina Sinsky-Crosby, collaborated with two 8th grade students, Nuhamin Woldeyes and Juliniel Woods. The endeavor became part of Woldeyes’ and Woods’ International Baccalaureate (IB) Community Service Project to educate the students and staff at PBMS while garnering support for the proposal.

The naming process included a Change.org webpage. Once the petition had enough signatures, the name movement made its way to local community groups, including the Pacific Beach Community Recreation Group, the Pacific Beach Planning Group (PBPG), and other community groups - all of which supported the effort.

Channeling the effort from the community, the San Diego Unified Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the name “Fannie and William Payne Joint-Use Field” at its March 9, 2021 Board of Education meeting. Following the district’s approval, the City of San Diego Park and Recreation Board approved the name “Fannie and William Payne Joint-Use Field and Community Park” at its April 15, 2021 meeting.

“It’s important to recognize the dedication and impact of San Diegans who change our community for the better, especially brave trailblazers like William and Fannie Payne,” said Todd Gloria, City of San Diego Mayor. “Our city has come so far since William started as the first Black teacher at Pacific Beach Middle School. Dedicating this field in their memory is a wonderful representation of their contributions, not only to the Pacific Beach community, but to all of San Diego.”

Mr. Payne’s wife, Fannie Lois Jeffries Payne, was also a well respected teacher in San Diego public schools. She was an alumni of San Diego State University and an active member of the community, engaged in many service and philanthropic activities.

The renaming includes the entire joint-use area and the hard-court areas of Pacific Beach Community Park, including the basketball and tennis courts.

In June of this year, Barrera and the Board of Education approved a plan to integrate anti-racism and ethnic studies in the curriculum as a way to provide both history and context of racism in the country.

“This is just part of our commitment to our young students because it sends the message that the history of all of our students, regardless of color, matters,” said Barrera.

Local Bond Propositions
San Diego Unified’s capital projects are funded by San Diego Unified School District’s Propositions S, Z and Measure YY, which are local bond measures approved by San Diego voters to repair, renovate and revitalize neighborhood schools. The City of San Diego contributes some design and construction funds and will operate and maintain the joint-use facilities.

Play All Day Parks Program
As part of the Play All Day partnership with the City of San Diego, the joint-use field will be accessible to the community as a local park after school hours and during school breaks.

Play All Day Parks Program
Pacific Beach Middle School students succeed in drive for park renaming to honor two Black educators
March 9 Board of Education Agenda Item
April 15 City of San Diego Park and Recreation Board Agenda Item

Jamie Ries, Facilities Communication Liaison, San Diego Unified, 619-855-9283, [email protected]
Samer Naji, Facilities Communication Supervisor, San Diego Unified, 619-548-3388; [email protected]
Tim Graham, City of San Diego Communications, 619-253-9197, [email protected]