Panel will examine histories of the namesakes of DC’s public places

The D.C. government is taking a look at who its public spaces are named after.

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the creation of a working group Thursday called DC FACES (Facilities and Commemorative Expressions) in order to review the histories of the namesakes of public statues, buildings, streets and other spaces in the District.

The group could recommend changes that could include removal, renaming or contextualizing the history behind the names, based on that figure’s contribution to the repression of communities of color, the mayor’s office said in a statement.

DC FACES will be chaired by senior advisor Beverly Perry and D.C. Public Library Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan, and will issue a report before autumn.

“D.C.’s public buildings, monuments and spaces must reflect D.C.’s current values, not those from centuries ago,” Perry said in the statement.

Reyes-Gavilan said, “This working group will provide a critical bottom-up review of the figures we honor with our public assets and provide recommendations on how to ensure the legacies of those individuals are in line with the future Washingtonians are striving toward.”

Bowser added in the statement that the results of the group would not only be to change the honoring of those who contributed to oppression, but to celebrate those whose legacies aren’t well known.

“We have no shortage of people who have dedicated themselves to building a fairer and more equitable nation and District,” Bowser said, “and while their legacies often live on through the values of our city, we now have a new opportunity to uplift their stories and celebrate their lives.”

The group is looking for public input and has created a survey on the subject.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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