The Washington Informer

May 30, 2005

 

Peggy Seats is hot and understandably so. As Founder and CEO of the Washington Interdependence Council (WIC), which administers the Banneker Memorial in Southwest, D.C., she is becoming weary over her battle for recognition and support for the Benjamin Banneker Overlook Park located on the L’Enfant Plaza corridor.

 

In an email sent last Tuesday to the Cultural Tourism DC, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the press, Seats accused the organizations of being “covertly and overtly racist” because of its continued exclusion of the Banneker Overlook Park in the allocation of grants and publicity about places to see in Washington, D.C. Seats’ letter, it seems, was sparked by the omission of the Banneker Overlook Park from the recently published See DC Beyond the Monuments brochure. She wrote: “This commemorative park is one of a very few commemorative sites in the nation’s capitol to African Americans and could have been just one of all the other non-African-American sites that were featured from the Southwest community in that brochure.”

 

There is no doubt that D.C. tourism organizations have historically received a failing grade for their failure to direct tourists to the places that will offer them a genuine taste of the great diversity in the nation’s capital.

 

Seats is correct. The Banneker Overlook Park, which is just a block away from the Smithsonian Mall, should be given favorable consideration for local grant funds to develop a commemorative park in honor of the contributions Banneker made to survey and design the nation’s capital and his role in producing the L’Enfant Plan. It is a history that we all should feel good enough about to do something to make it happen.

 

It will take a great deal of affirmative action to prove to Seats and others that the ole boy and ole girl network operative in historic preservation no longer exists in Washington , D.C.



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