A group commissioned by Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser recommended Monday that the Washington Monument and other famous memorials be “removed, renamed or contextualized” because of their “disqualifying histories.”
The District of Columbia Facilities and Commemorative Expressions said in a report that it was tasked with evaluating whether statues and memorials in the city should be removed or “contextualized” if the historical figures they honor participated in “slavery, systemic racism, mistreatment of, or actions that suppressed equality for, persons of color, women and LGBTQ communities and violation of the DC Human Right Act.”
The working group recommended that Bowser, a Democrat, use her position on the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission to support the removal or “contextualization” of eight Washington memorials, including the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial.
DCFACES also urged the city to identify a diverse cast of candidates to honor in the city with statues, noting that 70 percent of the statues and memorials in the nation’s capital honor white men.
“Priority should be placed on ensuring future assets, especially and including those recommended for renaming by this Working Group, include more women, people of color and LGBTQ Washingtonians,” the report read.
The working group also recommended that at least 21 public schools named after figures such as James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson, Francis Scott Key and Woodrow Wilson be renamed.
Bowser said the group’s recommendations “will guide us as we move forward in advancing these shared DC values” in a statement on Tuesday.
This July, I tasked the DCFACES Working Group with evaluating public spaces to ensure the namesake’s legacy is consistent with #DCValues.
They have delivered the report, and I look forward to reviewing and advancing their recommendations.
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) September 1, 2020
“Across the country, communities are reflecting upon the systemic racism which has been engrained in our culture through policies and expressions impacting African Americans and other groups subject to discrimination,” DCFACES Co-Chair and Senior Advisor Beverly Perry said.
“This week we delivered recommendations to assure our assets in contemporary DC reflect concurrent DC values.”
DCFACES Co-Chair Richard Reyes-Gavilan said that the “vast majority of the people we heard from agreed that the District should take action on public namesakes that are inconsistent with our DC Values.”
“And one thing was clear: DC residents consider being the namesake of a public asset a high honor that should be reserved for esteemed persons with legacies that make DC proud,” Reyes-Gavilan added.
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