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Kerry James Marshall to Design Windows for National Cathedral

  • September 23, 2021

In the summer of 2020, amid nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd by the police, the cathedral began collaborating with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to plan the public exhibition of the removed windows. The Lee window is to go on display at the museum starting this weekend.

Ms. Alexander — who will contribute a poem that will be inscribed in stone tablets alongside Mr. Marshall’s windows — has visited the cathedral frequently since she was a child growing up in Washington. She said she had actually never paid attention to the Lee and Jackson windows. “But it is a great gift of the progress of our society that now we do notice and ask questions about why something is where it is and what it is teaching us.”

And the Washington National Cathedral has been asking questions like these for years now. In the western section of the cathedral, its leaders have long commemorated human rights figures. Stone carvings of Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks and others are shown there, on the so-called human rights porch. In April, a tribute to Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel laureate, joined them.

Dean Hollerith said the decision to remove the windows was not without controversy.

“But I am so proud that we spent time on conversation on why the windows were put in in the first place, what was going on in 1953, and what the legacy of Jackson and Lee is,” he said. “Cathedrals are never finished.”

The new windows and the poem are expected to be unveiled in 2023.

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