The new D.C. committee, DCFACES, has recommended renaming dozens of public schools, parks and monuments due to their historic ties to slavery.
A new D.C. committee has recommended renaming several government-owned buildings throughout Washington D.C. after studying their namesake’s historical ties to slavery. The DCFACES (District of Columbia Facilities and Commemorative Expressions) committee reviewed over 1,300 of public schools, parks and other government-owned buildings on a new report released on Tuesday, September 1, to ensure the city’s public buildings are consistent with D.C. Values.
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
The committee, which was first commissioned by Mayor Muriel Bowser back in July, conducted their review of historical figures based on their “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 Right Act.” Three different committees within DCFACES–engagement, policy, and research–conducted a public survey to identify the different public spaces to take into consideration.
Over 2,000 D.C. residents took part in the study that identified 150 public sites to be considered. ” The working group recommendations are centered around three asset areas: (1) living, learning and leisure environments, (2) public spaces and (3) landmarks/commemorative works. In each area we recommend whether an asset should be removed, renamed or contextualized based on our research.” Reads the report.
“In some instances, more research is necessary before a determination can be made. In all instances we believe strongly that all District of Columbia owned public spaces, facilities and commemorative works should only honor those individuals who exemplified those values such as equity, opportunity and diversity that DC residents hold dear.”
Highlighting commemorative works dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Francis Scott Key and Christopher Columbus, the report takes part in the ongoing national debate over how to understand the U.S.’s history pay homage to its founders while also acknowledging their role in implementing racist practices and institutions.
DCFACE’s study has driven heavy criticism particularly pertaining to the renaming of major D.C. monuments including the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument. However, the Mayor’s office later stated Bowser wanted to avoid confusion over the working group’s proposal for the federal monuments, which was “contextualizing, not removing.”
“Mayor Bowser has asked the [committee] to clarify and refine their recommendations to focus on local DC,” mayoral spokeswoman LaToya Foster said to the Washington Post.
Additionally, DCFACES’s report provides recommendations on how to fortify DC Values by identifying diverse candidates to honor and increasing public engagement.
You can take a look at the full report here.
[Featured image: Ridwan Meah, Unsplash]