The New Democracy Coalition, an advocacy group, based in Boston, is demanding that the city renames its historic public building Faneuil Hall, named after an 18th-century colonial merchant and slave owner Peter Faneuil. Last week, the organization announced a boycott, which encourages African-Americans not to shop at the site or its neighboring Quincy Marketplace, reports the Boston Globe.
Faneuil Hall Boston was purchased and gifted to the city by the wealthy merchant in 1740. It was nicknamed The Cradle of Liberty and was “where colonists first protested the Sugar Act in 1764 and established the doctrine of ‘no taxation without representation,'” according to its website.
The organization has been urging city leaders including Mayor Martin J. Walsh to rename the building for over a year, according to founder Kevin Peterson. “At this point, we clergy members and community activists are deeply disappointed that Mayor Walsh has never responded to any of our efforts to discuss the matter of changing the name of Faneuil Hall,” he told the publication. The campaign to rename the public space was launched in 2017 after the Charlottesville rally, a white nationalist gathering that occurred from Aug. 11 to 12 in Virginia.
Peterson and other activists are calling for the building to be renamed in honor of Crispus Attucks, a Black man who was killed during the Boston Massacre in 1770. If their efforts continue to go unaddressed, the organization will hold a sit-in and protest at the building.
Earlier this year, Mayor Walsh made a statement explaining why he is against the renaming of the site. “We can’t erase history, but we can learn from it. If we were to change the name of Faneuil Hall today, 30 years from now, no one would know why we did it,” he said. The city official also went on to say that a protest would disrupt the environment for the many people of color who wrote in the building.
Peterson responded by asserting, “The effort of changing the name isn’t about erasing the name but ensuring the history of everyone in Boston, including the slaves.”