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D.C. Taskforce Suggests Changes to Monuments with Links to Slavery

September 2, 2020, 11.12 PM

WASHINGTON, - The Washington D.C. government received a recommendation to place more context on monuments, schools, parks, and buildings with links to slavery.

A task force commissioned by the government suggested the options to either rename, relocate, or add context on places or monuments because of their namesakes’ participation in slavery or racial oppression.

The Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial are among the targets subject to possible change.

Read also: City of London Involves British Public to Review Monuments Linked to Slavery

Some of the proposals in the report released Tuesday are definite non-starters, as many of the most prominent monuments and statues stand on federal land, outside D.C. government control.

Still, the recommendations have already prompted fierce reactions amid an ongoing national debate over America’s racial history.

“As long as President Trump is in the White House, the mayor’s irresponsible recommendations will go absolutely nowhere, and as the mayor of our Nation’s capital city — a city that belongs to the American people — she ought to be ashamed for even suggesting them for consideration,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement Tuesday.

The task force, known as DCFACES (District of Columbia Facilities and Commemorative Expressions), was formed by Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser over the summer in the face of a nationwide wave of protests over police brutality and systemic racial inequities that included Washington as one of its epicenters.

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It released a 24-page executive summary Tuesday.

Some of the group’s recommendations were widely expected; for example, Woodrow Wilson High School has been a prime candidate for a name change for years due to Wilson’s open public support for segregation.

Others are more controversial, such as proposals to rename schools named for Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and “The Star-Spangled Banner” composer Francis Scott Key.

For the multiple statues and monuments on federal land, the committee advises Bowser to ask the federal government to “remove, relocate, or contextualize” landmarks such as the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial and the statue of Christopher Columbus outside Union Station.

The task force, in its summary, explained that it focused on “key disqualifying histories, including participation 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 Rights Act.”

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