Seattle Audubon Society dropping “Audubon” from its name – KNKX

In another move to cleanse this country of honoring people who owned and supported slavery, along with reaching out to communities of color to be more inclusive, the Seattle Audubon has taken the somewhat radical step of dropping the name of the foremost bird naturalist, John James Audubon. It is worth mentioning that while some may want to say that Audubon was just a “man of his times” there were many in this country at that time that opposed slavery. He made a choice.

Coming to grips with the real history of this country is clearly a painful task. With Republican news outlets and politicians making political hay from the idea that this is all a minority plot to dishonor our history, it is good to see organizations such as the Audubon Society take a controversial stand such as this. It clearly is in the tradition of Hazel Wolf, the woman who led the organization for years, and never backed down from a controversial position. Hazel was a fighter for women’s rights and indigenous rights along with being a most dynamic environmentalist. Not just a “restorationist” but an environmentalist. There are too few of those anymore in this country. It’s not a “politically correct” position in many forums where avoidance of conflict and funding for restoration projects trumps actual hard decisions for protection of the environment.

The Society will choose a new name this fall. This idea has also been spreading through other chapters in the rest of the states. An article in Audubon Magazine in fall of 2020 called into question the notion of honoring Audubon. Revealing the Past to Create the Future | Audubon

There was no immediate word from the National Audubon Society whether they will continue to support the Seattle Chapter. My guess is that other chapters will follow suit soon. It likely will cause a rethinking at the national level to keep all the chapters together. This groundswell can’t be contained.

The Seattle chapter of the Audubon Society announced that it is dropping “Audubon” from its name because of its association with white supremacy. There are hundreds of state and local chapters of the National Audubon Society, the nonprofit dedicated to protecting birds and their habitats, but Seattle Audubon is one of the largest in the country. Earlier this month, the board voted to change the chapter’s name because the man the organization is named after – illustrator, painter and bird lover John James Audubon, author of the seminal work “The Birds of America” – owned enslaved people and opposed abolition. Lilly Ana Fowler reports. (KNKX)

Seattle chapter of the Audubon Society dropping “Audubon” from its name to be more inclusive

3 Responses

  1. The current edition of Audubon magazine mentions a likely coming name change for them in their article about bird names. For more on bird names, see my blog post here (with links to several others on the topic). I’ve just joined the American Ornithological Society’s Ad Hoc Committee for Bird Names. We are tasked with making recommendations for a process for changing bird names.

  2. Oops, sorry folks, my error. The Seattle Audubon Chapter is in the process of choosing a new name.

  3. When I presented the story of “Heroines of the Olympic Peninsula” several years ago to our historical society and other organizations, I included Rosalie Edge because she was a huge influence (through the Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes) on President Roosevelt to approve the ONP as a national park. She sued Audubon and won for the rights of their membership list and then she began sending leaflets across the country (printed in an old hand-cranked mimeograph machine) letting its members know the Society was “two-face” in that they promoted bird hunting while at the same time John Audubon and the Society made money from all the bird illustrations (which were made from birds they’d shot).

    I’m delighted to see this change and I hope all the chapters nationwide follow the name change. Progress comes slow at times, but it’s great to see it happening.

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