District of Columbia Working Group Finds Prominent Abolitionist, James Birney, Has a “Legacy” That Does Not Merit Recognition.
The District of Columbia authorized a working group to make recommendations about public displays. The Committee states that “[c]ommemoration on a District of Columbia asset is a high honor reserved for esteemed persons with a legacy that merits recognition.” And how should that person’s legacy be assessed? The working group identified five factors:
1. Participation in slavery – did research and evidence find a history of enslaving other humans, or otherwise supporting the institution of slavery?
2. Involvement in systemic racism – did research and evidence find the namesake serving as an author of policy, legislation or actions that suppressed persons of color and women?
3. Support for oppression – did research and evidence find the namesake endorsed and participated in the oppression of persons color and/or women?
4. Involvement in supremacist agenda – did research and evidence suggest that the namesake was a member of any supremacist organization?
5. Violation of District human rights laws – did research and evidence find the namesake committed a violation of the DC Human Right Act, in whole or part, including discrimination against protected traits such as age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and natural origin?
I knew these purges would never end at eliminating confederate statutes. The third and fifth factors are so broad, as to sweep in every “namesake” who is commemorated in the District of Columbia.
From these five factors, the Working Group identified five ways to address the “namesake.” Call them the five degrees of cancellation.
- Recommend renaming the asset
- Recommend removal of the asset
- Recommend contextualization of the asset
- Clear namesake from further review
- Recommend additional research prior to final decision point
The Working Group recommends renaming twenty-one schools. By my count five schools are named after Presidents. Perhaps the most bizarre name on this list is James Birney. They would strip his name from a public school.
You have probably never heard of Birney. He was a prominent abolitionist. Randy and I discuss him in our new book on Slavery and the Constitution (stay tuned):
Article from Latest – Reason.com