A report by the National Archives has declared the agency to be racist, including the building’s Rotunda, which displays the nation’s founding documents.
The report claims that structural racism “permeates all aspects of work and workplace culture” at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), including the Rotunda’s supposed emphasis on white men in America’s founding (links omitted):
Examples of structural racism at NARA include, but are by no means limited to:
- a preponderance of BIPOC [black, indigenous, and people of color] in lower-paying, lower-status jobs and the preponderance of White people in higher-paying, higher-status jobs;
- legacy descriptions that use racial slurs and harmful language to describe BIPOC communities; and
- a Rotunda in our flagship building that lauds wealthy White men in the nation’s founding while marginalizing BIPOC, women, and other communities.
The report calls for “reimagin[ing] the Rotunda” by “recontextualizing the murals and architectural elements and installing a new exhibition to “create a more inclusive and historically accurate tribute to the nation’s founding.”
Its recommendations include (original emphasis):
Immediate/Short-Term Action Items
- Add labels to one of the Rotunda cases addressing the lack of representation and predominant focus on the men who framed the founding documents. These labels could also address efforts to reimagine the Rotunda for the future.
- Initiate planning for a new Rotunda exhibit that explores the roles of women, enslaved Africans, and Indigenous Americans in the founding of the United States along with contemporary views on the men who framed the founding documents and their participation in and positions on slavery.
- Consult with members of the community, historians, museums with related missions, and other advisors for guidance on creating an inclusive story of the founding.
Continuous/Long-Term Action Items
- Working with advisors as outlined above, develop a new exhibit for the Rotunda to be unveiled during celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.
- As part of the project, commission a series of temporary sculptures or art installations for the Rotunda’s empty niches. (See the “Reimagine the Rotunda” proposal in the appendix.)
The “Reimagine the Rotunda” section suggests creating new memorials to “women, American Indians, and enslaved people”; countering “oppressive and exclusionary” murals of white men with additional murals or “dance or performance art”; and replacing some display cases with new ones on topics like the Iroquois Confederacy and the abolitionists.
It concludes (emphasis added):
To avoid alienating a segment of our audience as we work toward a more inclusive approach, we must be careful to present the project as a means of adding to, rather than repudiating, the celebration of the nation’s origins. We must emphasize the idea that the traditional story of the founding fathers is not the whole story. There were women, Indigenous Americans, and enslaved people who contributed. Freedom wasn’t fully chartered by the three documents in the Rotunda. It took many additional documents, court decisions, and movements to approach that goal. It is time for the National Archives to embrace the complexity of this story, to encourage discussion of our difficult and divided history, and to acknowledge, welcome, and include the entirety of We the People in the experience of its signature space.
The report also includes recommendations for presenting “difficult history.” While striving to “prevent censorship,” the report suggests using “content warnings, disclaimers, and/or removable covers for sensitive content,” and creating “an agency-wide style guide that denotes ant-iracist [sic] terminology (e.g., use of “enslaved people” rather than “slaves”).
President Trump delivered a speech in the Rotunda of the National Archives last September, warning (emphasis added):
On this very day in 1787, our Founding Fathers signed the Constitution at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It was the fulfillment of a thousand years of Western civilization. Our Constitution was the product of centuries of tradition, wisdom, and experience. No political document has done more to advance the human condition or propel the engine of progress.
Yet, as we gather this afternoon, a radical movement is attempting to demolish this treasured and precious inheritance. We can’t let that happen. (Applause.) Left-wing mobs have torn down statues of our founders, desecrated our memorials, and carried out a campaign of violence and anarchy. Far-left demonstrators have chanted the words “America was never great.” The left has launched a vicious and violent assault on law enforcement — the universal symbol of the rule of law in America. These radicals have been aided and abetted by liberal politicians, establishment media, and even large corporations.
Whether it is the mob on the street, or the cancel culture in the boardroom, the goal is the same: to silence dissent, to scare you out of speaking the truth, and to bully Americans into abandoning their values, their heritage, and their very way of life.
America’s founding set in motion the unstoppable chain of events that abolished slavery, secured civil rights, defeated communism and fascism, and built the most fair, equal, and prosperous nation in human history. (Applause.)
On that occasion, Trump signed an executive order to create the 1776 Commission, whose report was deleted by President Joe Biden within hours of taking the oath of office in January. (It is preserved by Hillsdale College.)
Fox News noted Monday that Republicans are slamming the report. Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the ranking minority member of the House Oversight Committee, said: “America should be celebrated, not reviled — especially by our own federal government. … Taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund a woke agenda seeking to revise America’s history.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new novel, Joubert Park, tells the story of a Jewish family in South Africa at the dawn of the apartheid era. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, recounts the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.