FRESNO, Calif. – In the last two months, Fresno Unified School Board, with the backing of the City Council, pushed to name a new campus after a couple, Francine and Murray Farber, who had generously donated money and time to the school district. Others in the community felt that the campus should be named after Roger Tatarian, a native Fresnan and one of the most powerful journalists of the latter-half of the 20th century. Note that over its 100 years history, and in the naming of over 100 schools, Fresno Unified has never chosen to name a school for an Armenian-American, even while Armenians contributed immensely to the city and the entire Central Valley of California.
A poll, conducted by the school board, revealed that the community overwhelmingly favored naming the campus after Tatarian. The school board ignored the results of its poll and named it after the Farbers.
Last Wednesday, June 2, authors Mark Arax and Aris Janigian confronted the school board with an uncomfortable reality: J. C. Forkner, one of Fresno’s largest developers, for whom an elementary is named, was also an incontrovertible racist, with particular hatred towards Armenians. They proposed that his name be replaced with Tatarian.
Here is a youtube video capturing how their proposal was received.
See also this June 8, 2021 veditorial of the local Fresno Bee criticizing the school board’s decision.