As communities debate taking down controversial statues and monuments across the country, Boston activists have filed a petition asking officials to discuss a possible name change for the city’s iconic Faneuil Hall.
Peter Faneuil, the founder of the meeting hall and marketplace, was a slave owner and slave trader who built and then donated Faneuil Hall to Boston. It is believed that the site was built with money from the slave trade.
Kevin Peterson of the New Democracy Coalition has proposed renaming the location after Crispus Attucks, a runaway slave who was said to be the first casualty in the American Revolution. After nearly a year of ongoing discussion, a petition was submitted to the Boston City Council in June to propose the change.
The building is owned by the city, but the National Park Service conducts tours and runs a visitor’s center on the historic site.
A name change would be significant. For more than 200 years, the historic building has stood nearby Quincy Market, a cobblestone area lined with restaurants, shops and vendors selling everything from lemonade to souvenirs. It attracts visitors from all over the world.
Ron Dudek, a visitor from Connecticut, is against the renaming proposal. “Leave history alone,” he said.
Julia Smith, a college student, favors the change. “Slave owning is an unjust and an unacceptable matter which history should not be built on,” said Smith.
Liv Timmins, a high school teacher from Medford who also wishes to see the name changed said: “Those who upheld that system shouldn’t be glorified for what they did.”
It remains to be seen whether Faneuil Hall gets a new name. Renaming famous spots isn’t completely foreign to the city. Recently Yawkey Way near Fenway Park was renamed Jersey Street following a debate about whether Tom Yawkey, a former owner of the Red Sox was racist.
By Emma Williams and Jenny Ferm