A nonprofit group that provides substantial financial support to the National Mall says the Jefferson Memorial and other monuments to the Founding Fathers will be updated to reflect their personal records as slave owners.
In the wake of a deadly clash in Charlottesville between white supremacists and radical leftwing protesters including Black Lives Matter and Antifa, the president of the Trust for the National Mall in Washington, D.C. says “the physical symbols of American history and democracy will be scrutinized and challenged” in the near future.
“Recent events only reinforce the need for an open, inclusive and safe space for Americans to exercise their First Amendment rights and to gather in pursuit of our shared ideals — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all,” wrote Catherine Townsend in a letter to supporters, reports the Washington Examiner. “I hope you will join us as we steward private support to implement modern and resilient solutions that can transform this dynamic space and preserve the historic legacy of the National Mall.”
Beginning with the Jefferson Memorial, what Trust officials are calling the “complexity” of the personal lives of the Founding Fathers will be emphasized as the monuments are altered.
“We can reflect on the momentous contributions of someone like Thomas Jefferson, but also consider carefully the complexity of who he was,” a Trust official told the Washington Examiner. “And that’s not reflected right now in the exhibits.”
The report continues:
The Trust has the ability to wield significant influence over the new exhibits, because they provide crucial private funding for the National Mall. The National Park Service [NPS] faces an $11.49 billion deficit for repairing and maintaining the parks, including an $852 million shortfall for the Mall alone. The Trust works to fill that gap by coordinating fundraising drives from “patriotic philanthropists” and that support projects identified by the NPS as a top priority.
The Trust official said that, in order to bring in private funding, the Trust would have to be “thoughtful vis à vis what has happened.”
“That is where we’ll be their partner in bringing together thought leaders and scholars to make sure that that content is really appropriate and thorough for what should be at that particular site,” the official added.