monuments

150 DC Sites Recommended for Name Change, Contextualization or Removal

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More than 150 monuments, buildings and parks in D.C. have now been recommended for name changes, contextualization or removal because the historic figure they are named for is either considered a racist or doesn’t reflect the values of D.C. residents.

Over almost two months, D.C. residents got to weigh in and the D.C. Facilities and Commemorative Expressions Working Group (DCFACES) researched. DCFACES released recommendations Tuesday for sites, including adding context to the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial.

Others that were expected include Woodrow Wilson High School, the fountain at Chevy Chase Circle and the Albert Pike statue, which was torn down by protesters.

Twenty-one public schools are on the list, as well as 12 parks and recreation centers and seven government buildings.

Other names on the list with buildings or monuments include:

  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Francis Scott Key
  • George Mason
  • Christopher Columbus

Mayor Muriel Bowser tasked DCFACES with making the recommendations after calls to rename Wilson High School and protests around the country.

Whether any changes will be made is yet to be seen. Some of the monuments are on federal land.

Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt spoke against any changes in a tweet Tuesday evening.

"Not on my watch. Never going to happen," it said.

The report page on federal monuments was removed after Bernhardt tweeted. A representative for Bowser said the mayor wants the task force to focus on sites on local, not federal, land. 

“Interesting to see the White House comment on an intragovernmental report about how to recognize all sides of our history," a statement said. "Mayor Bowser has asked the DC FACES working group to clarify and refine their recommendations to focus on local D.C.”

Three weeks earlier, the co-chair of the name change group said they would make recommendations for federal properties as well. 

A spokesperson for Bowser issued a statement saying, in part, “Interesting to see the White House comment on an intragovernmental report about how to recognize all sides of our history. Mayor Bowser has asked the DC FACES working group to clarify and refine their recommendations to focus on local D.C.”

In late July, the co-chair of the working group was clear they were looking at federal monuments as well.

“We are looking at federal properties,” DCFACES Co-Chair Richard Reyes-Gavilan said. “You know, it’s possible that we may not be able to do anything about it, but certainly we can make recommendations and we can certainly offer an opinion.”

The Bowser administration has refused to answer any questions about the report

D.C. Councilman Kenyan McDuffie, who has been pushing for more statues and monuments for people of color, was unsure why the mayor seemed to acquiesce to the president’s criticism.

“We shouldn’t shy away from the images that we see in the federal government even though we don’t have the authority to change them,” he said.

What was left off the report was roads and bridges, as well as any explanation as to specifically why these historical figures were considered offensive.

Read the DCFACES report here.

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