DCentric » Meridian Hill Park http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU Malcolm X or Meridian Hill Park: On Symbolism And Accuracy http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/05/malcolm-x-or-meridian-hill-park-on-symbolism-and-accuracy/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/05/malcolm-x-or-meridian-hill-park-on-symbolism-and-accuracy/#comments Fri, 04 May 2012 14:37:53 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=15899 Continue reading ]]>

Brandon Nedwek / Flickr

A weekly drum circle has been decades-old a mainstay in the park called Meridian Hill by some, and Malcolm X by others.

D.C.’s big, popular park off of 16th Street NW has two names. Sort of. Some (including the National Park Service) call it Meridian Hill Park, while others (including many residents) call it Malcolm X Park.

There was a move to rename the park in the aftermath of the 1968 riots, but Congress rejected that proposal. Many still call it Malcolm X Park. Earlier this week, we asked our readers what they call the park, and why. Here are the results thus far from our poll, showing a split of opinion slightly in favor of Meridian Hill Park:

A number of you weighed in further, both on Twitter and in the comments section. For some, calling the park Malcolm X is a symbolic gesture, having to do with D.C. self-determination and also pushing back a mostly-white Congress rejecting a proposal from a black city.

Ms. T wrote:

As a life long citizen of DC, having survived the ’68 riots I have known it as both Meridian Hill and Malcolm X Park. However, I prefer Malcolm because during the years immediately following the riots it became a cultural meeting place for the city’s Black residents who had the consciousness of mind to plan and strategize ways to hold our communities together; to serve, educate and uplift a group of people who had just lost their champion for justice. How fitting that when one man of vision has fallen, another would symbolically rise in his place to as a sanctuary of vision and hope. [sic]

Others pushed that Meridian Hill Park is the most accurate name, and that Malcolm X had no significant connection to the park.

Adam L made this point:

It’s Meridian Hill Park. A proposal came before Congress in 1968 and it failed. End of story. A proposal came before Congress to refer to 16th Street as “Ronald Reagan Boulevard” but it too (thankfully) failed. Still, you don’t see street signs that name the road after the 40th President.

Anyway, we’ll keep the poll open for a little while longer, so cast your vote if you haven’t already.



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Meridian Hill Park Or Malcolm X Park? (Poll) http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/05/meridian-hill-park-or-malcolm-x-park/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/05/meridian-hill-park-or-malcolm-x-park/#comments Wed, 02 May 2012 20:27:16 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=15877 Continue reading ]]>

Daniel Lobo / Flickr

One park, two names.

An interesting debate arose on Twitter this afternoon after Washington City Paper managing editor Mike Madden declared that the newspaper would refer to the park at 2500 16th Street NW as Malcolm X Park, not Meridian Hill Park.

A few things to consider: the National Park Service owns the land and officially calls it Meridian Hill Park. From NPS:

The name Meridian Hill comes from a proposal in the early 1800s to establish an official meridian or longitudinal base point, for map-making and other purposes, through the mid-point of the White House. A plaque at the upper entrance to the park from 16th Street takes official note of an 1816 meridian marker which stood on the proposed meridian.

A city sign refers to the park using both names. A proposal came before Congress after the 1968 riots to officially rename the park as Malcolm X Park. It didn’t pass, but the name persisted.

We asked what our readers call the park and why. A number of you tweeted that the name you use, both Malcolm X and Meridian Hill, is how you were first introduced to the park. Native and longtime Washingtonians were also split. (Disclosure: I’ve been known to call it Malcolm X Park).

But why not a more systematic way to measure the pulse of D.C. on this issue? Alas, a poll. Vote below, and tell us your reasoning in the comments section. Do you think the name people use says something about their connection to D.C., or is it just about what’s most accurate?

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