NYC Audubon Rebrands to NYC Bird Alliance Over Racist Concerns

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The New York City Audubon has rebranded itself as the New York City Bird Alliance due to concerns over the racist history of its former namesake, John James Audubon.

“While we appreciate John James Audubon’s contributions to art and ornithology, acknowledging his role in fostering a conservation ethos, we cannot ignore his harmful and offensive views and actions towards people of color and Indigenous people — impacts that resonate even today,” the organization’s website explains.

“What was once a popular name associated with beautiful bird imagery is now linked to slavery and racism,” the statement reads.

John James Audubon, known for his detailed paintings of North American birds, also owned slaves and opposed abolition, which the New York organization calls “antithetical to our mission to protect birds and involve all New Yorkers as stewards of urban biodiversity.”

The decision to rebrand was made in March 2023, with the new name selected in March 2024 after considering nearly 250 suggestions and input from over 1,000 stakeholders. The change became official on Wednesday.

Last year, the National Audubon Society decided to retain its name despite calls for change.

“The name now represents a broader love of birds and nature, and a non-partisan conservation approach, going beyond the legacy of one individual,” said Susan Bell, chairwoman of the National Audubon Society’s Board of Directors, in a statement at that time.

Nonetheless, numerous chapters of the national organization have opted to drop the Audubon name.

“We understand that other organizations may choose different paths,” said Jessica Wilson, the New York organization’s executive director, to the Truth Voices. “Our hope is that all conservation groups, regardless of their names, strive to genuinely and inclusively engage with all their communities and constituents.”

Audrey Baker
Audrey Baker
Editorial Intern. Previously, Audrey has written for publications such as The Dispatch, The Kenyon Collegian, and The Bakersfield Californian, covering a range of topics including politics, social issues, and campus news. Her work has also been featured in RealClear Education.

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