Congress shouldn’t squander a unique opportunity to honor those once enslaved at National Airport

tags: slavery, Gravelly Point Park

Thomas A. Foster is associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of history at Howard University.  Thumbnail Image -  By Ted Eytan - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Should the site of a 1,000-acre plantation be named for former first lady Nancy Reagan? Several members of Congress may think so, but any renaming of Gravelly Point Park in Arlington should honor those once enslaved there.

The House Natural Resources Committee voted last month to rename the popular site on the banks of the Potomac the Nancy Reagan Memorial Park. Legislation will now head to the full House, where it is expected to pass.

The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, who, according to WTOP, said naming the park for Reagan would be a “fitting tribute” for a “beloved first lady.” All seven Republicans representing Virginia in the House of Representatives have endorsed the renaming.

But one wonders if they have any idea of the history of that location, a history that includes enslavement that to date has yet to be acknowledged and properly memorialized.

Few know that Reagan National Airport is located on the site of a plantation. If one goes to the airport today, one can find the ruins of the plantation house. Its foundation and the partial wall of an outbuilding, likely the kitchen, sit atop a small hill between parking garages A and B. ...

Read entire article at The Washington Post

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