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Santa Maria Joint Union High School District to replace “Columbus" ship logo

 Santa Maria Joint Union High School District plans to replace its “Columbus” ship logo
Posted at 6:38 PM, Sep 16, 2021

The famous ship is all around Santa Maria, but things are about to change for students in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.

District leaders have decided to get rid of the Christopher Columbus ship logo, meaning the image will be removed from vehicles, letterheads, and signs in schools.

“It's important to Santa Maria culture. It doesn’t really affect me if the ship is there or not but I'd like for it to be there as an icon for our city,” said Joseph Lopez, student in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.

For the indigenous community, it brings up a painful chapter in history.

"As a person from the Mixteco community, which is an indigenous community in Oaxaca, Mexico, but can also be found in Guerrero and Puebla, I think this is a first step to talk about a lot of the racism and discrimination that is ongoing,” explained Sofia Altamirano, a youth leader at MICOP, an organization that advocates for indigenous rights.

Altamirano and Leo Ortega are former Santa Maria High School students who have been fighting to remove the Columbus ship logo.

“Empowerment to do more for the community and give us space to let our voices be heard,” Ortega added.

The issue was first brought up last spring, which prompted the district to research the history around the logo.

“Mid and late 1970s is where this logo begins to appear on formal district documents,” said Antonio Garcia, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Superintendent.

On Tuesday, school officials decided to stop using the logo and create a plan for a new seal.

“Resources in terms of design, that might involve some art teachers or other graphic artists within our staff,” Garcia said.

As for the City of Santa Maria, which adopted the logo in 1971, there are mixed feelings.

“It’s been a tradition, it should stay that way, it’s Santa Maria,” said Barbara Morton, who resides in Orcutt but frequents Santa Maria.

Others believe it's a change that should have occurred a long time ago.

“It should be brought to more people’s attention, people like me that struggle with being different,” stated Dezire Rene Holmes, a former Santa Maria High School student.

In a statement, the City of Santa Maria told KSBY News that “because the issue of the city seal is not on an upcoming city council agenda, the council will not be discussing or voting on the item.”

They are not considering changing the city seal at this time.

“Giving respect and honoring the indigenous communities that have existed for more than 500 years,” concluded Altamirano.

A timeline for the removal of the logo is in the works. However, during Tuesday’s meeting, Superintendent Garcia said he is planning to take action later in the fall and will seek both resources and student input for a new logo.