News & Politics

The Year in Renaming

We'll update our stock photo ASAP. Photograph by Andrew Beaujon.

Lee Highway may get renamed for Mildred & Richard Loving. Woodrow Wilson High School could be renamed for its first Black teacher. The Washington Football Team renamed itself Washington Football Team. A profound reckoning over the United States’ awful racial history made 2020 a big year for rebranding relics of Washington’s past. Herewith, some more of the things around town that got renamed or are in the process of (maybe? probably?) being renamed.

Barkada

A DC wine bar initially abandoned plans to name itself after a Tagalog word for a group of friends, but then it decided to stick with it.

Colony Club

The Park View café, originally named after co-owner Max Zuckerman’s grandparents’ flower shop on Georgia Avenue, announced it would change its name, citing “its negative associations with colonialism.” It’s now called Doubles.

A whole lot of stuff in Fairfax

The county’s Board of Supervisors agreed to reconsider the names of 157 locations, including roads, parks, and other facilities.

Francis Griffith Newlands Memorial Fountain

Many residents of swanky Chevy Chase DC would love to rename this water feature, currently named for the neighborhood’s segregationist developer, but doing so will require an act of Congress.

George Washington University’s Marvin Center and “Colonials” nickname

The Marvin Center was named for a university president who fought to keep the DC school segregated, batted around the student press, and tried to keep liberals off campus. The school began edging away from the Colonials moniker a few years ago; this summer it said it would review both names.

International Place, Northwest

US Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio proposed renaming the street in front of China’s US embassy for Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who warned about the then-novel coronavirus.

More of Jefferson Davis Highway

Prince William County decided to rename its portion of Route 1 as Richmond Highway, joining jurisdictions to the north that that had already made the switch.

John Mosby Highway and Harry Byrd Highway

Loudoun County voted to rename its portions of Route 50 and Route 7.

Lafayette Recreation Center and Lafayette Park

Both these Chevy Chase DC entities will be renamed Lafayette-Pointer to honor George Pointer.

Magruder Park

The Hyattsville park was founded with a proviso in its deed that it be for “Caucasian inhabitants only.” Possible new namesakes include artist David Driskell, coaching legend Morgan Wootten, and Muppets creator Jim Henson.

Redskins Park Drive and a road that leads to a FedEx Field entrance

Washington Football Team renamed these streets Coach Gibbs Drive and Sean Taylor Road, respectively.

Robert E. Lee High School

The Fairfax school was renamed for John Lewis.

Sandwiches at Call Your Mother

The deli renamed menu items named for people with Black and Jewish identities and removed photos of Drake from its walls: “Although it was never our intention, we now understand that these choices were co-opting Black culture and profiting off it, without truly paying homage,” owners Andrew Dana and Daniela Moreira wrote in an apology.

Schools, playgrounds, government facilities, monuments, memorials, fountains…

A DC mayoral commission recommended renaming a long list of facilities that “do not align with District values,” like Key Elementary School, Barry Farm Dwellings, and Franklin School. The committee later had to clarify that it didn’t want to relocate the Washington Monument.

Part of 16th Street, Northwest

Mayor Bowser championed renaming two blocks near the White House as Black Lives Matter Plaza and painted the phrase in huge letters on the asphalt.

Stonewell Jackson Middle School and Stonewall Jackson High School

Prince William County decided to rename two schools named for a traitor; they’re now Unity Braxton Middle School and Unity Reed High School, respectively.

T.C. Williams High School

The home of the Titans was named for an ardent segregationist. The Alexandria school board voted to rename it in November.

Thomas Jefferson Elementary School and George Mason High School

Falls Church decided to rename two schools named for men who enslaved people.

Two Towson University Dorms

The school has formed a committee to consider renaming Paca House and Carroll Hall, which are named for Marylanders who enslaved humans.

 

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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.