Report to mayor singles out DC landmarks with a racist legacy

In the months following George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police, there has been a growing movement to address landmarks with a racist legacy.

A D.C. working group has submitted a report to Mayor Muriel Bowser with recommendations on what, if any, actions should be taken regarding some of the District’s landmarks – everything from statues and monuments to schools and streets.

That list includes such iconic national landmarks as the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial. It also includes 78 streets, such as Foxhall and Brentwood roads.

The District of Columbia Facilities and Commemorative Expressions (DCFACES) group singled out over 150 landmarks having the names of “persons of concern.” Criteria that “disqualify an honor” are if the namesake figure: participated in slavery; authored or proposed policies that suppressed people of color and women; was part of a white supremacist organization; or violated D.C.’s human rights laws.

From there, the group made recommendations on some of the landmarks, and whether they should be renamed, removed or contextualized.

Forty-nine landmarks that were singled out for renaming are currently the namesakes of such figures as Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Christopher Columbus and Francis Scott Key.

Also singled out were eight landmarks on federal land. Unlike landmarks on District land, any changes to these federal landmarks would require additional support. The working group suggests that the mayor — as a member of the National Capitol Memorial Advisory Commission — recommend that federal officials “remove, relocate, or contextualize” the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial and six others.

Since its formation in July, DCFACES gathered input from over 2,300 District residents, most of whom have been residents for over 20 years.

Woodrow Wilson High School, Francis Griffith Newlands Memorial Fountain, the J. Edgar Hoover building, the Andrew Jackson Statue, and the Emancipation Memorial were the most cited public assets not in alignment with District values,” the report said.

In addition to its recommendations to the mayor and District government, the working group offered a suggestion on what they could be renamed. Noting that over 70% of D.C.’s landmarks were named after white men – “many of whom are not District residents” – the report recommends more names of “women, people of color and LGBTQ Washingtonians.”

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