NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - What's behind a name? That's the question. And where does finding a new one rank in terms of importance for people who have so many needs that need to be addressed? Some New York City Council members are floating the idea of stripping the names of slave owners off NYCHA developments.
Council Member Ritchie Torres said he is not advocating an absolute rule. He acknowledged that George Washington was the nation's first president and Thomas Jefferson was the writer of the Declaration of Independence. But he questions naming public housing after other slaveholders whose misdeeds outweigh their historical contributions.
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson, all presidents, were also slaveholders. But some NYCHA properties are named for less-known figures Henry Rutgers and Peter Stuyvesant, who also owned slaves.
Torres says the group isn't asking NYCHA to work alone, but to engage the community. NYCHA is the largest provider of affordable housing for communities of color, he says.
In a statement, NYCHA said: "We appreciate the intent of the letter and are reviewing the proposal's feasibility, fully recognizing New York City's complex history. Any effort to rename a NYCHA development would begin and end with our residents, who, in many cases, feel attachment to the names that have represented these communities for many years and would have to reach consensus before a change is made."