Press Release

October 28, 2022
Cardin, Van Hollen, Norton, Raskin Urge National Park Service to Remove Name of Segregationist Newlands from Chevy Chase Circle

WASHINGTON – Senators Ben Cardin, Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), wrote to the Director of the National Park Service (NPS) requesting permanent removal of the name Francis Griffith Newlands in Chevy Chase Circle, a federal park located both in D.C. and Maryland. The lawmakers have introduced legislation in the House and Senate, respectively, to remove the name.

“We urge you to permanently remove or conceal the name of Francis Griffith Newlands at Chevy Chase Circle, a federal park located both in the District of Columbia and Maryland, during the ongoing construction in the park,” the members wrote. “Newlands does not deserve to be honored on federal land. In 1912, he called for the repeal of the 15th Amendment, which gave African American men the right to vote. As a founder of the Chevy Chase Land Company, Newlands included covenants to homes on Connecticut Avenue to explicitly prohibit the land from being owned by African American or Jewish homeowners and priced the properties to keep low-income people out of the neighborhood.”

The full letter follows.

October 27, 2022

The Honorable Charles Sams III

Director

National Park Service

1849 C St., NW

Washington, D.C. 20240

Dear Director Sams:

We urge you to permanently remove or conceal the name of Francis Griffith Newlands at Chevy Chase Circle, a federal park located both in the District of Columbia and Maryland, during the ongoing construction in the park.  We believe the National Park Service (NPS) has the administrative authority to do so, given that the memorial fountain’s authorizing statute (47 Stat. 78) does not name Senator Newlands nor dedicate the memorial to him.

We understand that the coping stones and tablet that bear Newlands’ name have been temporarily removed as part of a rehabilitation project and will be returned to the fountain in four to five weeks.  It appears that the name can be physically removed or otherwise concealed efficiently, without further impairment to the structure.

Newlands does not deserve to be honored on federal land.  In 1912, he called for the repeal of the 15th Amendment, which gave African American men the right to vote.  As a founder of the Chevy Chase Land Company, Newlands included covenants to homes on Connecticut Avenue to explicitly prohibit the land from being owned by African American or Jewish homeowners and priced the properties to keep low-income people out of the neighborhood.  He sought to use Rock Creek Park to keep white communities separate from emerging Black communities on what he called the “wrong side of the park.” 

We introduced bills in the House and Senate directing NPS to remove Newlands’ name.  However, given the limited time remaining in this Congress, and the existing administrative authority for NPS to act on removing Newlands’ name from the memorial, we urge NPS to swiftly coordinate the rehabilitation of the park with permanent removal or concealment of his name.  This is the perfect time to do so.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely, 

Senator Benjamin L. Cardin                                                   

Senator Chris Van Hollen

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton                             

Congressman Jamie Raskin   

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