MORGON ZEGERS: Washington National Cathedral switches stained glass windows to show racial justice imagery
The Washington National Cathedral at the U.S. Capitol has replaced its historic stained glass windows, which paid homage to the Confederates who lost the Civil War, with windows depicting scenes of racial and social justice.
The windows depict black Americans marching with signs reading “FAIRNESS,” and “NO FOUL PLAY,” one demonstrator holding a sign is seen in a wheelchair.
The new stained glass windows, named the “Now and Forever Windows” were created to tell a “more inclusive story of American history,” according to the Cathedral’s official website. “The Cathedral’s Now and Forever Windows capture the resilience, faith and endurance of African Americans and our nation’s struggle with the original sins of racism and slavery.” Previously, the windows commemorated Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson as a symbol of national unity and forgiveness following a bloody Civil War.
While the new windows were crafted and installed, from 2021-2022, “the Lee window was loaned to the National Museum of African American History and Culture for their temporary exhibit on Reconstruction. Both windows are currently being stored and conserved at the Cathedral. Final decisions about their use are still under consideration.”
According to Politico, several prominent figures attended the dedication service for the new stained glass windows, including several clergy members from Washington D.C.’s historically black churches, “leaders of social justice organizations,” and Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who solemnly read excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of the Cathedral explained, “You can’t call yourself the National Cathedral, a house of prayer for all people, when there are windows in there that are deeply offensive to a large portion of Americans.” Many Americans have taken issue with the new window designs, asserting that they represent a polarized political ideology that has only been adopted by half the country’s population, rather than the alleged “inclusivity.”