The Boston-area group which has been pushing for the city to rename Faneuil Hall because of its ties to slavery has now called for a black-led boycott of the landmark.
Kevin Peterson of the New Democracy Coalition called for the boycott in a letter to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.
“For nearly more than a year now — way before the controversy related to changing the name of Yawkey Way began — black and white citizens of Boston and beyond have been patiently petitioning Mayor Martin Walsh to hold hearings regarding the feasibility of changing the name of Faneuil Hall,” Peterson wrote.
With no response from the city or opportunity to sit down with Mayor Marty Walsh, Peterson continued, the coalition of local clergy members has decided to take action in the form of a boycott.
“But because our contentions have gone unheeded; and because our cries have gone unaddressed, and because our earnest charges have gone ignored, we are calling on a national black boycott of Faneuil Hall and its Quincy Market Place where the souls of black slaves were sold,” wrote Peterson.
The New Democracy coalition wil stage sit-ins and demonstrations across the city beginning this summer.
Why does the New Democracy Coalition want to rename Faneuil Hall?
The New Democracy Coalition and other civil rights advocates have been calling to rename Faneuil Hall since Aug. 2017. The group has reignited its push this summer, following the news that the city would rename Yawkey Way to Jersey Street after an outcry because of namesake former-Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey’s “racist legacy.”
The New Democracy Coalition is calling on officials to rename Faneuil Hall because of the landmark’s ties to slavery. Peter Faneuil, for whom the area is named, was a Boston merchant, slave trader and slave owner.
Peter Faneuil donated money to the city in order to fund the creation of Faneuil Hall. That money came in part from selling slaves.
“Black people in this city and across the country can no longer tolerate the denial, disrespect, destain and disassociation that the white political and economic hegemony in this city has directed over them,” Peterson wrote in his letter. “We will therefore, concertedly reach out to black organizations, tourists associations and policy influence makers in the city and nationwide to comply with our boycott.”
Previously, Walsh responded to the proposition to rename Faneuil Hall with some skepticism.
“If we were to change the name of Faneuil Hall today, 30 years from now, no one would know why we did it. Not many people know about the history of that man,” he said. “What we should do instead, is figure out a way to acknowledge the history so people understand it. We can’t erase history, but we can learn from it.”