D.C. Councilmember proposing commission to study offensive names

Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie has proposed legislation that would form a task force to identify public spaces named after people whose past actions are racist or offensive today.

The task force would then work with council and communities to propose new names for the District-owned properties like parks, monuments, schools and streets.

"[The task force would] look at statues, look at parks that we named after people to make sure that the people who we wanted to honor when those names were established decades ago are still consistent with the values of the residents of the District of Columbia today," McDuffie said.

McDuffie says the proposal came out of a conversation with his daughter who asked him why monuments to slave owners exist.

"These are all monuments and parks that are named after white men who were war heroes and I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with that necessarily but I think it's worth a review to make sure that we're recognizing the people who also contributed to the history of the District of Columbia," McDuffie said.

The proposed legislation comes as a debate is ongoing at Northwest's Wilson High School. The community is discussing changing the name because of President Woodrow Wilson's segregationist history.

In Arlington, the school board voted in January to change the name of Washington-Lee High School to Washington-Liberty High School.

The task force has gotten the support of other council members and is likely to head to a committee. McDuffie hopes to have a hearing on it this year.