Preservation and protest go hand-in-hand.
We preservationists are not unfamiliar to it. We even welcome it. When crises and issues arise we are often the first to be like “BRING. IT.” We are not above getting out and mobilizing. Taking action. Being heard. And even actually hugging a few buildings while we are at it.
We understand that the structures are not the only thing that we are trying to protect. We must also protect and speak up and out for the communities those structures are within. To empower communities and aid them in their efforts. All must have a voice, not a few. We can’t be silent.
I participated in the Women’s March. I am African American. It is safe to say that I had a lot on my mind and knew I had–I needed–to be there. To be heard. To help show the world that we are not “OK” with the current state of things. I posted the picture above of us passing by the Old Post Office for a reason.
I am proud to be a member of the Landmarks Committee of the DC Preservation League. The DCPL started out as “Don’t Tear It Down,” an activist advocacy group whose first street action in 1971 was to save the Old Post Office from demolition. Actions that day helped to change historic preservation processes and policies in DC, helping it to have one of the strongest preservation ordinances in the country. To see the Old Post Office now as this symbol representing someone and an ideology abhorrent to so many is distressing and speaks to the power of place meaning.
Going forward, we must continue to take action. To be heard. Preservation is not just about protecting the past, but also about protecting the future.