The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today announced the beginning of a process to preserve the Black Lives Matter signs displayed on construction scaffolding surrounding the organization’s historic building. Situated across from Lafayette Square and currently undergoing a significant restoration, the Chamber’s headquarters has become an organic gallery for demonstrators’ messages and artwork.
The mosaic of signs comprised of words, photography, and painted murals recently have shown signs of wear and tear from exposure to the elements. As a result, the Chamber has partnered with local preservationists to thoughtfully safeguard the artifacts for future exhibits on equality, diversity, and inclusion.
In partnership with the Chamber and the office of Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser, the District’s Department of Public Works is responsible for taking down the artifacts. A professional preservation service is transporting the artwork into secure storage until the pieces can be safely delivered to museums and institutions. Simultaneously, the Chamber is replacing the artwork with temporary banners featuring photography of the signs and art that have been displayed throughout Lafayette Square.
The Chamber has been collaborating with local partners to ensure the artifacts are curated in museums and institutions for generations to come. The goal has been to find organizations who plan to use the materials for future exhibits, educational platforms, and digital resources that document this moment in American history and the importance of racial equality. The DC Public Library, Howard University, and other leading museums have already signed on to work with the Chamber.
“The DC Public Library is honored to work with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other partners to preserve these Black Lives Matter panels," said Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive director of the DC Public Library. “These artifacts are critical to telling the District's story and the history of Americans protesting for racial equity. We know that people will be thrilled that their art and signs calling for justice will be preserved and live at the Library online and in exhibits at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.”
The Chamber has been driving a national conversation on racial inequality and showing how the business community can help close opportunity gaps for Black Americans. Central to this effort, the Chamber released its Equality of Opportunity Agenda, calling for bold policy actions and private sector solutions to help close race-based opportunity gaps in four critical areas: education, employment, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice. Each of these areas has perpetuated broader inequalities in our society, held back individual and business success, and hindered economic growth. The Chamber will continue to identify and advance other solutions and leverage its relationships in Washington and across America to help close the equality of opportunity gaps.