Sequoia High School's first dedicated campus opened in 1924 at the corner of Brewster and El Camino Real. At the time, it was one of the most beautiful high school campuses in all of California. While it's worn in certain areas, its historic charm and beauty are irreplaceably secure. Today it remains an impressive example of a culturally rich bygone era.
Like much of California, the campus architecture reflects a Spanish look.
An oft told chapter of said history includes the journey of Father Junipero Serra. From 1769 to 1782, he trekked from San Diego up to the San Francisco area, founding nine Catholic Missions prior to his death in 1784. His journey has been a staple of California's public education from its earliest days.
The missions he founded have been sewn into local culture in their respective locales.
One of the co-laborers Serra worked within the mission field was Father Juan Crespi. A historic meeting between the two of them took place around 1781. The location is said to be along today's El Camino Real, close to the campus of Sequoia High School.
In 1947, a group of Sequoia students under the supervision of an instructor painted a large mural reflecting the historic meeting between the two men and their respective expeditions. It's located just inside the main entrance to the campus, near the administration offices. Next to it is a plaque explaining the mural and the names of those who painted it.
The beautiful piece of art has adorned the entrance to the campus for many decades, reflecting the importance of persevering the valuable history we all share.
A New Age Dawns
In 2020 when a black man died at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, riots broke out, which spread to many other cities across America. Historically significant statues and pieces of art were summarily attacked, damaged and destroyed by activists who felt property destruction, looting, etc., was an appropriate way to express themselves. A victim of said destruction was a statue of Father Junipero Serra on the Capital Mall in Sacramento. However, the giant statue of him erected in 1976 along Highway 280 remains.
During the 2020 street rioting, Sequoia's principal ostensibly felt the campus mural might become a target of vandalism, so he decided to cover it completely.
In June 2021, the Minnesota police officer was rightfully convicted and sentenced to a long prison term.
However, the historic mural remains covered, despite discussions that included placing a sheet of plexiglass over it, which would protect it from vandalism.
At this point, close to two years hence, with riots long gone, and the police officer serving a lengthy prison sentence, one cannot help but wonder if protecting the mural from vandalism reflects the true reason why it was covered in the first place, since it remains hidden behind a huge banner.
Today's educational institutions have morphed significantly. Children are not taught how to think; they are taught what to think. Ideological narratives have replaced factual information. Anything outside said narratives becomes a target. So-called "cancel culture" has become mainstream. Free exchange of ideas is not tolerated any longer.
All of this defeats the very purpose of what education is meant to be.
Moreover, works of art should be viewed contextually. It seems Sequoia's principal has a responsibility to 'educate' the naysayers.
History is something we cannot, nor should not, attempt to erase. If we don't learn from it, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
Rather than 'destruction,' we should work on 'construction' of a healthy social structure, absent of violence, where every view, presented respectfully, is given a fair hearing.
Everything else is just history.
Some of the photos used in this blog are courtesy of the Local History Room, Redwood City's best-kept secret. The Local History Collection covers all aspects of Redwood City's development, from the 1850s to the present day, with particular emphasis on businesses, public schools, civic organizations, city agencies, and early family histories. The Local History Room is not affiliated with the Redwood City Public Library, but it is inside it.
Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed in all blog posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Redwood City Pulse or its staff.
For additional information about the mural, including comments from Principal Sean Priest read the Redwood City Pulse's story here.