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Social justice activists continue steadily to push for a name change to Faneuil Hall

Among Boston’s biggest attractions is known as for former slave owner Peter Faneuil. There has been a debate over if the assortment of shops and restaurants ought to be renamed.


Faneuil Hall is among Boston’s most well-known landmarks. Activists and ministers desire to rename it. Cristela Guerra from member station WBUR reports.

CRISTELA GUERRA, BYLINE: Reverend Kevin Peterson sees the fight to improve the name of Faneuil Hall as a spiritual one.

KEVIN PETERSON: On a particular level, racism is really a spiritual crisis represented inside our nation.

GUERRA: Through the years, he along with other activists have fasted about any of it. They’ve prayed about any of it. They’ve certainly meditated onto it. And on Wednesday, they sang about any of it, riffing off the Destiny’s Child classic “Say My Name.”

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Singing) Change the name. Change the name.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) Change the name. Change the name.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Singing) Change everything about any of it. We are able to do without it.

GUERRA: Peterson and a large number of others gathered before Boston City Hall to once more demand the name change because Peter Faneuil was a known enslaver. He amassed his fortune partly by trafficking and selling humans. Samuel Pierce from nearby Dorchester supports changing the name.

SAMUEL PIERCE: Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley often said that individuals closest to the pain ought to be closest to the energy. If you ask me, that results in ensuring the government doesn’t have buildings, streets or whatever it’s in charge of named after slavery or oppressive people.

GUERRA: Prior to going upstairs, Pastor Valerie Copeland led a prayer.

VALERIE COPELAND: We mourn a variety of hearts which were broken as humans taken off their African homeland faced life of perpetual enslavement in a strange and hostile land. Those folks that are descendants continue steadily to understand that hostility and the denial of full citizenship.

GUERRA: Their song soon echoed through the lobby of City Hall.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) Woke up today with my mind stayed on freedom

GUERRA: They silently filed in to the council chamber’s room without their signs, however in shirts that read, changed the name. Boycott Faneuil Hall, slave trader’s hall. Then after several minutes, they left.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Change the name.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Change the name.

GUERRA: From there, they filed through Faneuil Hall, making speeches and chanting before performing a sit-in at Quincy Market amid the lunch-hour rush. Tourists shopping and eating took notice. Some, just like a band of teenagers visiting from Maine, said the perfect solution is seemed obvious.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: You will want to change it out? Why can you keep carefully the name if that’s so?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Yeah. Before I came here, I didn’t know the backstory onto it, but now I really do. And, yeah, definitely ought to be changed.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: It’s giving very oppressive…

GUERRA: But others, including Cregg Paul and his family from Buffalo, felt just like the name change wouldn’t do much.

CREGG PAUL: Why? I’d say, why?

GUERRA: They’re saying it is because he sold people.

PAUL: I’m confident he’s dead now, right?


PAUL: Yeah. He isn’t buying any people at this time, is he? So what’s the difference? It’s history.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: You can’t erase history.

PAUL: Unless you like it, i quickly don’t know what things to let you know.

GUERRA: The hall sits in the center of downtown Boston and sees an incredible number of visitors per year. Reverend Peterson says they be prepared to see legislation filed soon to handle the name change. In this manner, he says, they change the narrative in the town. By changing the narrative, they change the near future.

For NPR News, I’m Cristela Guerra in Boston.


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