Audubon Society won’t cave to woke mob demanding they change name after George Floyd’s death

It’s hard to imagine a more peaceful pastime than bird watching, but social justice warriors managed in the wake of George Floyd’s 2020 death to bring racial division to the already left-of-center National Audubon Society (NAS), a non-profit organization that has, since its founding in 1896, dedicated itself to protecting “birds and the places they need.”

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Since Floyd’s death, the woke mob has been squawking about the conservation group’s refusal to change its name.

It turns out, cousins Harriet Hemmingway and Minna Hall chose to name the society they founded after the celebrated 19th-century naturalist and painter of American birds,  John James Audubon (1785-1851), who, according to the Audubon Society’s own website, “enslaved Black people and wrote critically about emancipation.”

While described as “a genius,” his namesake society says Audubon’s “actions reflected a dominant white view of the pursuit of scientific knowledge.”

And because history that makes progressives mad needs to be erased, activists have, since Floyd’s death, been insisting that the organization drop Audubon’s name into the nearest memory hole and bury it.

“In the aftermath of Mr. Floyd’s murder, prominent members of the birding community urged the National Audubon Society’s board of directors to consider a name change,” The New York Times wrote in an article published this week. “Those in favor argued that a name change would not only break the link to a shameful history, but also help create a more welcoming atmosphere for members and employees. That, in turn, would help the organization thrive.”

The black founder of the In Color Birding Club, Jason Hall, asked, “Why would you not take the step of being brave and moving forward?”

According to Hall, the correct position for the Audubon Society to take is: “We need to consider this name change because it gives us an opportunity to reconcile the history of this person, but also keep our core mission of bringing birds to people. And by doing that we can bring more birds to more people, more, different kinds of people.”

Hall characterized the birdwatching hobby as having a reputation for attracting rich white people who don’t always welcome black enthusiasts.

(Video: YouTube)

“In 2022, 81 percent of the society’s senior leaders and 77 percent of its full-time employees identified as white, according to an Audubon survey,” The Times reports.

In March 2023, the national society’s board of directors announced that “it has decided to retain the name of the organization.”

“The decision was made taking into consideration many factors, including the complexity of John James Audubon’s legacy and how the decision would impact NAS’s mission to protect birds and the places they need long into the future,” the group stated. “The organization will continue its non-partisan commitment to habitat conservation and climate action, its agenda-setting policy work, and community-building efforts to advance its mission.”

In the same press release, NAS announced “a new $25 million commitment to fund the expansion of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (EDIB) specific work in both internal and conservation initiatives over the next five years.”

But the decision on the national level hasn’t stopped local chapters from virtue-signaling to their woke watchers.

“While the national organization debated, the Seattle chapter announced it would drop the Audubon name, later changing it to ‘Birds Connect Seattle,'” The Times reports. “Several other local chapters — including those in New York City and Chicago — dropped the Audubon moniker.”

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However, not all members are willing to follow suit.

“If there was even the remotest thought of changing the name of National Audubon because John James Audubon, in a different time, in a different world and a different century owned, whatever it was, six slaves, I would resign from the Audubon,” one anonymous member told The Times. “There’d be no further gifts from me for the Audubon.”



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