Santa Barbara restaurant agrees to change racist name
Santa Barbara restaurant Sambo’s, the last remaining location of a breakfast chain dating back to 1957, is changing its name — a derogatory racial epithet used for Black and mixed-Black indigenous people — amid protests against police brutality and racism across the country, Today reports.
The restaurant’s founders, Sam Battistone Sr. and Newell Bohnett, originally derived the name by combining their nicknames “Sam” and “Bo.” But for decades, SFGate reports, “the walls of Sambo’s restaurants nationwide were adorned with painted imagery associated with The Story of Little Black Sambo, a children’s book written by Helen Bannerman in 1899 that became controversial for its depictions of racial stereotypes.”
After pressure from an online petition organized by Santa Barbara resident Rashelle Monet and signed by more than 3,800 people, the restaurant’s current owners, Chad and Michelle Stevens, agreed to change the name and directed employees to temporarily cover the sign with symbols for peace and love.
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We are changing the name of our restaurant, what the future name will be is still uncertain, however it will not be Sambo’s. Our family has looked into our hearts and realize that we must be sensitive when others whom we respect make a strong appeal. So today we stand in solidarity with those seeking change and doing our part as best we can. We will block out our sign with a message of peace and love as soon as possible and we are looking to work with the community to determine how we go forward. Please join us in this message of peace and love. Also please know we do not tolerate racism or violence. We are committed to being part of a long-term solution. And we ask our customers and neighbors to join us in that pledge.
“These are challenging times so we had to step up to the plate,” Chad Stevens, grandson of Sam Battistone Sr., told Today. “We have had this brand for 65 years. I’m covering up as much of it as I can to show respect for Black Lives Matter and the challenges of the African American community.”
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