A rare gift of 28 acres of wild forest just north of the city limits has sparked charges of racism and has pitted environmentalists against social activists.
The land known as Shockley Woods was bequeathed to the Auburn Recreation District with $50,000 for upkeep and one condition: It must be named for a man who believed African Americans are inferior and should be paid not to reproduce.
Well, he may have believed that, but that's not his claim to fame:
Before most of the district's board realized Shockley – winner of the Nobel Prize in 1956 for co-inventing the transistor – had another, more troubling side, the board voted 3-2 to accept the gift from Shockley's estate. They also agreed to the name: "Nobel Laureate William B. Shockley And His Wife Emmy L. Shockley Memorial Park."
And the trouble starts.
Are we going to judge everyone by today's standards, or by the standards of their own time? Who will measure up? George Washington owned slaves, Abe Lincoln is (scurrilously) rumored to have been gay, Cesar Chavez was against illegal immigration, and Dr. King cheated on his wife.
Who is left after whom we can name parks?