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Home » Golden Gate Audubon Society drops racist namesake from title

Golden Gate Audubon Society drops racist namesake from title

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The Audubon title is not for the birds.

Members of the Golden Gate Audubon Society voted to drop “Audubon” from the title to sever ties to namesake John James Audubon— a Nineteenth-century naturalist and artist, who owned slaves and was a staunch anti-abolitionist.

The board of administrators of the Berkeley, Calif.-based group voted unanimously Monday to make the change after ready to see if the nationwide group would do the identical.

However the Nationwide Audubon Society’s board of administrators introduced final month they deliberate to stay to the title “after a prolonged course of,” including the group plans to make a $25 million dedication towards variety initiatives.

Glenn Phillips, govt director for the Golden Gate chapter, informed The Submit that a part of the inspiration for the change was the Black Lives Matter motion.

“We’re in a really progressive group, so I believe everybody felt that we’re already making an attempt to do issues for the sake of equality and variety, and if the title was a barrier for many individuals, we wanted to vary,” Phillips mentioned. “Black Lives Matter introduced up these issues for everybody and it was laborious to disregard that there are indicators and symbols of systemic racism in our personal group that wanted to be taken down.”

In keeping with the group, 63% of its members permitted of the title change. A complete of 89 members voted towards it, in keeping with the group’s March 30 weblog publish.

“I don’t consider in re-writing historical past, inserting out values on folks lots of of years in the past,” one member wrote.

Phillips mentioned the nonprofit group will endure a course of to select a brand new title, together with conducting a survey with its 3,080 members. He mentioned they’ve already misplaced a couple of members due to the title change — but additionally gained new ones.

Different chapters additionally made the identical transfer, together with these in New York, Chicago, and Portland. Different newly renamed teams embrace Birds Join Washington, D.C. and Birds Join Seattle.

John James Audubon — a revered Nineteenth-century artist identified for his avian work — additionally has a racist legacy that officers with the nationwide chapter acknowledge. Not solely did Audubon personal slaves, however he additionally stole skulls from Native American graves, in keeping with an Audubon’s Society Journal article.

“After cautious consideration, the Board elected to retain our title. The title has come to characterize a lot greater than the work of 1 particular person, however a broader love of birds and nature, and a non-partisan method to conservation,” Susan Bell, chair of the Nationwide Audubon Society’s board of administrators, mentioned in an announcement. “We should reckon with the racist legacy of John James Audubon and embody our EDIB values in all that we do. In doing so, we are going to make sure that Audubon stands for an inclusive future wherein we unite various coalitions to guard birds and the locations they want.”   

Phillips mentioned the Golden Gate group has been working for years on variety points and has varied scholarships and academic applications for underserved communities within the Bay Space.

“We have now a program designed to carry training and entry to nature into city colleges, significantly serving communities of colour in Oakland, Richmond, San Francisco, and different areas,” Phillips mentioned. “We’ve been doing this for a very long time and it’s about time that our title is aligned with the work that we’re doing.”

Phillips mentioned a naming committee will get options from the group, and a survey will exit. The plan is to have an inventory of potential names and a vote by Aug. 17.

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