A racism task force for the National Archives asserts that the United States' Founding Fathers are inappropriately “laud[ed]” and seeks to “Reimagine the Rotunda” to address the “overarching system of racial bias” and curb the “structural racism” in the federally-funded institution responsible for preserving the U.S.’ primary documents.
In the 105-page report completed in April 2021 and released this month, the task force detailed ways the National Archives can discuss “racial inequality” both internally and in customer-facing operations, contending that racism “permeates” all aspects of culture at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
National Archivist David Ferriero formed the task force following the death of George Floyd last year.
The task force’s report cited Floyd's death in May 2020 as the “backdrop” that led the NARA to address racial inequality and “structural racism” in their institutions, alleging it “unequivocally impacts how NARA staff interact with records, colleagues, and customers.”
An example of “structural racism” emphasized in the report was found in the Rotunda, a room the task force contends “lauds wealthy white men in the nation’s founding while marginalizing BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, People of Color], women, and other communities.”
The Archives’ Rotunda displays the nation’s three primary founding documents: the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. The Rotunda also highlights other elements of American history and the country's founding.
One of the actions the racism task force recommended was to “Reimagine the Rotunda” by “recontextualizing” murals and architectural elements, as well as a new exhibition that is “more inclusive.”
The report suggested that adding the perspective of non-white men and implementing “dance or performance art” in the Rotunda to “invite dialogue” about how the U.S. “mythologized the founding era.”
The report also suggested each NARA facility should add "safe spaces."
The task force realized the recommendation to re-design the central room of the flagship museum featuring the three main documents that chartered American freedom will cause dissension.
“Reimagining the Rotunda will stir controversy,” the document noted. “Many Americans have embraced an idealized story of the nation’s founding as part of their personal identities. Those who interpret changes to the Rotunda as a challenge to passionately held beliefs may respond negatively.”
Due to this, the task force said it would seek to add to instead of “repudiate” the nation’s origins, emphasizing that “the traditional story of the founding fathers is not the whole story.”
The task force concluded that it's time for NARA to encourage discussion of the “difficult and divided history” and “embrace the complexity” of the American story in the Rotunda, which they said involved including all of “We the People” in this space of the museum.
“Its reverential, quasi-religious treatment of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights does not adequately reflect a full history of the founding of the United States,” the report said of the museum’s main space.
“And as we are learning through the comments of staff and visitors, some find the Rotunda’s language and imagery exclusionary,” the report continued.
The task force stated that the U.S. is “reckoning with its past in unprecedented ways” due to the Black Lives Matter movement’s role in increasing national interest in systemic racism.
The report emphasized a need for reform in accountability, resources, BIPOC recruitment and retention, training, internal reflection, outreach and external partnerships.
Conservative leaders have spoken out against the report they see as an attack on American history by the “woke.”
“I look forward to the National Archives tearing down the rotunda and building instead a Tent of Grievances,” conservative media host Ben Shapiro tweeted sarcastically.
Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee tweeted: “Once again, American history is being denigrated by woke leftists. We will not stand for this. Are the leftists trying to destroy this country?”
House Oversight Committee ranking member James Comer, R-Ky., told Fox News that the report is "nothing more than progressive propaganda seeking to erase our nations' history."
"America should be celebrated, not reviled — especially by our own federal government," Cormer said in a statement. "This report is a prime example of government waste. Taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund a woke agenda seeking to revise America's history."
Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., an African American who also serves on the House Oversight Committee, told the conservative news outlet that each time the political left "inappropriately uses" the term racism, "they are cheapening and lessening the real significance of the actual definition."
"One thing is abundantly clear; everything America represents is racist and evil to Democrats," Donalds was quoted as saying. "They will continue to tarnish this nation until they successfully change it. My goal is to make them unsuccessful."
The National Archive task force report comes as there has been a national debate surrounding critical race theory.
Critics contend that critical race theory is tied to Marxist critical theory and criticizes the U.S. and Western nations as being oppressive and promoting institutional “systemic racism” or “white supremacy.”
CRT teaches that systemic racism is ingrained in every aspect of American life and is a source of controversy as critics contend it divides people by race.
CRT first arose in academic journals three decades ago and is now being taught at public schools, government agencies and business training programs.
It has become a source of contention within the education system as it seeps into curriculums across the country.
Emily Wood is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org