Statement from Progressive Historic Preservation Professionals on the Election
Statement from Progressive Historic Preservation Professionals on the Trump Election
We are preservationists because we believe that historic buildings and landscapes matter, that they anchor individual and communal connections to the past, they are the basis for telling the complete and often painful American story, they can be the building blocks of equitable economic development, they are central to any sustainable environmental future, and that they hold within them values that stand above and beyond the market.
We are pleased that our movement, which has long been accused – not without reason -- of being elitist, the domain of the wealthy, little interested in the homes and neighborhoods of people of color, the disadvantaged, and the excluded, has begun a dramatic shift. Leading organizations have put their rhetoric and their resources toward expanding the movement to include preserving and interpreting sites central to the lives of racial, ethnic, religious, and LGBTQ communities, long victims of oppression in our society. We are proud that our movement has turned steadily in the direction of celebrating our diverse history, confronting our most violent pasts, and stands committed to building a more equitable and just society through the vehicle of old places.
Because we are excited about the direction of our profession, we are troubled by the deafening silence of many preservation organizations to the Trump election. If ever there was a moment to stand with our allies in the Latino community, the African-American community, the immigrant community, the disability community, the LGBTQ community – indeed, stand with the majority of Americans offended by the overt racism, bigotry, misogyny, and xenophobia of the Trump campaign – that time is now.
Our anger is not based on Trump’s views on historic preservation. We don’t care that he restored the Post Office in Washington, DC. We do not know what his specific preservation policies might be. What we do know is that the candidate and the campaign have deployed, in a calculated and relentless way, a hostility and intolerance toward the very groups our movement is hoping to include.
By not making a statement condemning this hatred, we are missing an opportunity to stand with the future members of that community and legitimizing Trump’s bigotry. Despite his wishes, America is going to be a more gloriously, diverse nation than it has ever been. We want a preservation movement for that nation.
Our profession’s commitment to an equitable and inclusive preservation movement is receiving an important test. We ask and demand that the organizations that represent our profession at the state and national level choose this moment to stand, as we do, against the open racism of the Trump candidacy and campaign.
1. Max Page, University of Massachusetts Amherst
2. Brad White, Alphawood Foundation
3. Joseph Heathcott, The New School, New York
4. Randall Mason, University of Pennsylvania
5. Graciela Isabel Sánchez, Esperanza Peace and Justice Center and the Westside Preservation Alliance
6. Daniel Ronan, National Public Housing Museum, Chicago
7. Tony Hiss, Visiting Scholar, New York University
8. Aaron Wunsch, University of Pennsylvania
9. Michael R. Allen, Washington University in St. Louis and Preservation Research Office
10. Amy Elliott Bragg, Preservation Detroit
11. Elihu Rubin, Yale School of Architecture
12. Benjamin Filippo, Preservation Durham/UNC American Studies
13. Dana Saylor, Confluence Creative Engagement, Buffalo, New York