Housing Complex

National Park Service: Keep Banneker Memorial Off L’Enfant Plaza Metro

The future memorial? (www.bannekermemorial.com)

The future memorial? (www.bannekermemorial.com)

At an ANC 6D meeting Tuesday night, commissioners considered a request by the Washington Interdependence Council to endorse the addition of "Banneker Memorial" to the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station. It would be only fair, WIC's Peggy Seats argued: The southern end of the promenade over which the station sits was designated in 1971 as Benjamin Banneker Park, and Congress authorized the building of a memorial to Banneker–somewhere, not necessarily there–in 1998.

But raising the $25 million it would take to build the memorial has proven difficult. The authorization has since expired, and although Senator Roland Burris has introduced new legislation, it's unlikely to pass this session. Currently, there is still no memorial in "Banneker Park," and few people even realize it's there–hence the Metro request.

"There's no reference to it until you get there, and that's part of the problem," Seats told the commissioners.

Commission chairman Ron McBee, while expressing support for the memorial, wasn't interested in the name change–with no physical destination, it's not relevant to the Metro system, he argued.

"This is a wayfinding issue," McBee said.

In explaining his rationale for opposing the change, McBee also quoted extensively from a letter sent to the commission by Peter May, Associate Regional Director for Lands, Resources and Planning at the National Park Service, who said that nothing was happening on that parcel anytime soon. Furthermore, he wrote, the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission had recommended that the memorial be placed within the L'Enfant Promenade, rather than on the Overlook.

"Therefore, in our view, a proposal to add a Banneker Memorial designation to the L'Enfant Plaza Metro would be inappropriate at this time," the letter reads.

Seats, needless to say, was not happy. The memorial's supporters, she wrote afterwards in an email, were "very disturbed at this biased position which certainly does not reflect the notion of working towards a more inclusive composition of monuments in the nation's capitol, not to mention the discrediting of our civic agency as the administrators of the commemorative effort."

So, still no recognition for America's first black man of science–and all hopes ride on Senator Burris.

It's probable that I will be writing more about this in the coming week. As usual, information welcome: ldepillis@washingtoncitypaper.com.

  • Wassup

    Perhaps Peggy could get Jack Evan's staff to hobble together a grab bag of grants, etc. to fund her project. She could call it the Mid L' Enfant Benjamin Banneker District. It is is Ward 2 after all.

    She could take 9M off the top and desiganate the rest to be distributed among her friends, significant other, and cronies as consultant and vendor fees.

    Oh, I forgot, Peggy is black so this would look too much like a Marion Barry earmarking scheme, oops, sorry Peggy.
    Why don't you try siphoning off someone else's funding! That works if you are a friend of Jack's too.

  • Correction

    This was at an ANC 6D meeting -- not ANC 6B as reported.

  • Lydia DePillis


    You are correct. The correction has been made.



  • Brian

    They need to fix up the L'Enfant promenade first. Walking to Banneker park from Independence is like stepping back in history to some god awful Soviet planned monstrosity. Would it hurt to plant a tree?

  • Kevin

    This is dumb. The ONLY factor in what a Metro station is called should be what will most easily and simply identify the location, not what will promote something that someone wants promoted.

    Don't you think the absurdity of the "U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo" station name is makes the point?

    "U Street" would have been just fine.

  • SW DC

    For Clarification and true factual information:

    Reference David Sobelsohn Highlights of October 18, 2010 ANC 6D Meeting, 10/20/2010.

    ANC6D Commissioner David Sobelsohn's,

    "motion to recommend renaming the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station “L’Enfant Plaza/Banneker Park,” to indicate the park, at the south end of L’Enfant Promenade, named to honor a pioneering African-American scientist."

    Statements made that ANC6D Commissioners vote taken was for Banneker Memorial is not true.


    Naomi J. Monk