On not naming a street after Marion Barry

People in Washington, D.C. should not name a street after Marion Barry, former mayor of the nation’s capitol and member of the city council. States, cities (including Washington, D.C.), buildings, bridges, stadiums, meeting or conference rooms should never be named after people. Naming places and buildings after people contributes to the cult of personality.

As citizens in a democracy built on the ideal of the rule of law, we should avoid using people’s names for public buildings and spaces. People are people, and that means they are flawed. They will always disappoint us.

Instead we should think beyond any one person and focus on the values and ideals that bind us together as a nation, state, or city.

We should use ideals and natural phenomena to name streets,buildings, and parks. Freedom Avenue, Liberty Library, Justice Park remind people of what really matters to a community. Such terms remind us who we are and for what we stand. Leaders will come and go. Our values and ideals should live forever.


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