News & Politics

DC Releases Long List of Facilities to Be Renamed, Relocated, or Contextualized

George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Francis Scott Key are among the namesakes a mayoral commission recommends revisiting.

The Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial are among the monuments the working group recommends DC should ask the federal government to "remove, relocate, or contextualize."

The District of Columbia should rename many schools, parks, and other facilities, according to a new report from a commission Mayor Muriel Bowser charged with evaluating public namesakes following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the national racial reckoning that followed.

While many residents cited Woodrow Wilson High School, the Newlands Fountain in Chevy Chase, the Andrew Jackson statue in Lafayette Square, and the Emancipation Memorial on Capitol Hill as facilities that “do not align with District values,” as the report puts it, the DC Facilities and Commemorative Expressions working group (DCFACES for short) also recommends renaming lots of other facilities whose namesakes either do not align with said values (which include diversity, equity, and safety)  or “in some way encouraged the oppression of African Americans and other communities of color or contributed to our long history of systemic racism.”

The working group identified 21 schools that should be renamed, including Key Elementary School, Van Ness Elementary School, and Bell Multicultural High School.

Among the buildings and other facilities it recommends be renamed: Barry Farm Dwellings, Greenleaf Gardens, and Stoddert Terrace.

Playgrounds and other parks include: Upshur Playground, Bruce-Monroe Community Garden, and Foxhall Playground.

Government buildings include the Key Bridge Boathouse, Franklin School (the imminent home of the Planet Word museum), and the Jackson Arts Center.

The report also recommends the city should “recommend” that the federal government “remove, relocate, or contextualize” memorials that include the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, and Columbus Fountain. (Protesters actually removed the Albert Pike statue in Judiciary Square earlier this summer.)

The commission says its research found that more than 70 percent of the DC assets it studied were named for white men, many of whom didn’t live in DC. Among the questions it asked about namesakes were “Did the person contribute positively to African Americans and other people of color?” and “Can we find a reason the person was honored with the naming?”

Read the whole report here.

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.

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