Two stained glass windows installed in Washington National Cathedral in the District of Columbia currently feature Confederate flags. Now, church officials say those flags will be removed.
The windows were created in 1953 as a gift from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They are a tribute to Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. After the Confederate battle flag was thrust back into the media in the fallout from the racially-motivated massacre at Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel AME Church, there was a national conversation about the appropriateness of featuring the flag.
Now, NPR reports that the five-person task force assigned to consider the windows’ relevance and history has recommended that the flags be replaced. Leadership is working to price the cost of the work and determine the removal timeline. The project will be funded by private donors.
In a statement issued Wednesday (June 8), church leadership said that the next step is to hold a “series of public forums and events on issues of racism, slavery and racial reconciliation.”
“The Lee-Jackson windows call the question of race and the legacy of slavery, and instead of turning away from that question, the Cathedral has decided to lean into it,” Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, the Cathedral’s canon theologian and a member of the Task Force, said in the statement. “Instead of simply taking the windows down and going on with business as usual, the Cathedral recognizes that, for now, they provide an opportunity for us to begin to write a new narrative on race and racial justice at the Cathedral and perhaps for our nation.”
The task force reports that a decision on whether or not to replace the windows completely will be born out of the conversations had at those forums and will be made by June 2018. The first forum will be held on July 17, and it will include a panel called “What the White Church Must Do.”
Access the task force’s complete report here.