By Steve Large

STOCKTON (CBS13) – A monument that was once celebrated has become an eyesore, and now a group is fighting to keep the memory of a revered gold rush-era educator alive.

The bold words stand here stubbornly and unflinching in spite of the toll time has taken, inscribed in a monument now surrounded by trash bags.

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The memorial remembers Reverend Jeremiah Burke Sanderson, a man who lived in Stockton 150 years ago, and brought quality education to all minorities during an era of division and discrimination.

If you’re standing right next to it, you can at least see the reverend’s memory being preserved. But from across the street, you might not even notice the monument. A nearby empty lot with piles of broken concrete and dirt certainly isn’t helping serve his historic place.

An old map shows where Sanderson’s Elk Street school stood at the intersection of Elk and Washington in the 1860s and 70s. The old monument marks that intersection – only Elk Street is now Monroe.

“We don’t know what it’s going to cost. It’s being investigated. Whatever the cost is, we want to get it put up,” said Ben Reddish, who is part of a movement to get the memorial fixed.

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Reddish is a charter member of Stockton’s Esquire Group. They paid to have the monument built 30 years ago. He’s now concerned that Stockton’s African-American youth are losing sight of their history.

“We want to try and get them to see you are here because of the efforts of this particular man in this case, and other people that came before you,” said Reddish.

He hopes to bring new life to the fading memory of a man before it’s lost for all-time.

“So the idea is to place emphasis and talk about the man who was the person we are recognizing,” said Reddish.

The Esquire Group has reached out to Stockton city hall with their hopes for a restoration. A city spokesperson tells me they may form a partnership to maintain the monument in the future.

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The state of California bought the land where Sanderson’s school once stood and ran a freeway over the site.