(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) announced today that they will introduce a bill to remove the name of Francis G. Newlands, a late U.S. senator from Nevada who held racist views, from Chevy Chase Circle. The name appears on the fountain and a plaque in the circle. The circle lies partly in D.C. and partly in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, which Raskin represents, and is managed by the National Park Service.
“I have long called for removing statues to Confederates and segregationists and placing them in museums to help give a more complete history of our country,” Norton said. “However, there is no redeeming value in preserving an honorific to an avowed and unreconstructed racist. This plaque and fountain tell no story. They are meant only to honor Francis Newlands, a segregationist who argued that voting rights won for African Americans as a result of the Civil War should be repealed. Newlands belongs in the dust bins of history, not preserved on a traffic circle that symbolizes the unity between the nation’s capital and the state of Maryland.”
“Francis Newlands was a segregationist and white supremacist, and the time is long overdue to retire his name and the plaque honoring him at Chevy Chase Circle,” Raskin said. “This former Senator from Nevada has received more honor and attention from us than he deserves, and surely we can find a more appropriate person to honor at this heavily traveled crossroads between Maryland and Washington, D.C., two communities that pride themselves on equality, diversity and strong democracy.
“Newlands worked to institutionalize his beliefs in white supremacy and did what he could to increase the racism that continues to plague our country and our people. Newlands called for the repeal of the 15th Amendment, which invalidated race discrimination in voting rights; advocated racist and anti-immigrant policies; and backed efforts to deprive African Americans, Jews, and other minorities of basic human rights. Let’s leave Newlands’ disturbing legacy to his family and others who want to continue to honor him. But the people of Maryland and Washington can move on. We should stop rewarding racist ideology and politics with a public memorial on public property. It is time to write a new story for the new century.”