John J. Audubon’s name is featured in the titles of many bird conservation groups. The Audubon Naturalist Society, or ANS, is one of the oldest, though not the largest, which is the National Audubon Society. In 2021, ANS, that smaller organization based near D.C., announced that they're retiring the Audubon name, given that Audubon enslaved people and held racist, white supremacist views about Black and Indigenous people. Caroline Brewer, who was integral to this decision, says that name changes like this are an opportunity to accept responsibility for the future and build an environmental movement that includes all people. Learn more on the Bring Birds Back podcast.
Reckoning with Audubon’s Legacy
Adapted from Bring Birds Back podcast
This is BirdNote.
John J. Audubon’s name is featured in the titles of many bird conservation groups. The Audubon Naturalist Society, or ANS, is one of the oldest, though not the largest – that’d be the National Audubon Society. In 2021, ANS, that smaller organization based near D.C., announced that they're retiring the Audubon name:
Caroline Brewer: The fact that he was an enslaver. And he held racist, white supremacist views about Black people and about Native people. With the racial reckoning, more and more of that part of his story has come out and it's led people to rethink their association with him.
Caroline Brewer is the former director of marketing and communications for ANS. She was integral to this decision.
Caroline Brewer: We would all be better off by embracing the truth, as difficult as it is. Because what it gives you the opportunity to do is now accept responsibility for your role in the future.
While name changes like this are only a start, Caroline sees them as part of a broader shift to make the environmental movement more inclusive.
Caroline Brewer: If this is our only home, we should want everybody who lives here to have a say in how to protect it. Nobody should feel alienated.
You can learn more about this story on the Bring Birds Back podcast. Listen in your podcast app or at BirdNote.org. I’m Tenijah Hamilton.
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© 2022 BirdNote June 2022 Narrator: Tenijah Hamilton
ID# PodBBB-10-2022-06-24 PodBBB-10