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Flagstaff City Council Picks A Name To Replace Agassiz Street

City of Flagstaff

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The Flagstaff City Council chose a new name to replace Agassiz Street in Flagstaff Tuesday. Council unanimously decided on “W.C. Riles Drive” as the name after Wilson C. Riles. Riles graduated from Arizona State Teacher’s College, now Northern Arizona University, in 1940 as one of the first Black students to be commissioned a degree by the school. In the late 1940’s he became principal of the Dunbar School, the school for Black children in Flagstaff which was in the same building that is now home to The Murdoch Center. He began working with Sturgeon Cromer, the superintendent of Flagstaff’s public schools at the time and began the process of desegregation. In 1952, two years before the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, the Dunbar School was closed and Flagstaff’s Black students were integrated into other schools in the city. Riles went on to serve as California Superintendent of Public Instruction and was the first Black man to be elected to statewide office in California. He died in 1999. The city decided to change the name of the street back in June after it was discovered that the street’s namesake, Louis Agassiz, had a history of racism. Council will make the name official at the next meeting in two weeks.

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