Seattle Audubon Society dropping ‘Audubon’ from name

SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle chapter of the Audubon Society says it is dropping “Audubon” from its name because the man the organization is named after was a slave owner and opposed abolition.

KNKX reports that Seattle Audubon is one the largest chapters of the National Audubon Society, the nonprofit dedicated to protecting birds and their habitats, but Seattle Audubon is one of the largest in the country.

Earlier this month, the board voted to change the chapter’s name because the man the organization is named after – illustrator, painter and bird lover John James Audubon, author of the seminal work “The Birds of America” – owned enslaved people.

J. Drew Lanham, a former board member of the National Audubon Society and a wildlife ecology professor at Clemson University, called the move courageous.

Lanham, who has written about Audubon and left the national chapter over concerns the nonprofit was not doing enough about racial equity, says organizations need to grapple with what to do about problematic monuments.

“To excuse inhumane acts as just being in the context of their time is, I think, a lazy excuse,” Lanham said.

Last year, the Audubon Naturalist Society, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental organization, announced it, too, would be removing “Audubon” from its name, but it is not affiliated with the National Audubon Society.

Seattle Audubon plans to choose a new name by the end of the year.

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