News & Events


  • Oct - 26 - 2020



FDR Memorial Legacy Committee Calls on National Trust for Historic Preservation to Expand Stakeholder Engagement Ensuring Disability Community is Represented

WASHINGTON, DC (October 26, 2020) – The FDR Memorial Legacy Committee (FDR Committee) proactively engaged the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) to insist the Tidal Basin Ideas Lab and all future plans related to the Tidal Basin, the FDR Memorial, and the National Mall utilize best practices in Universal Design to maximize inclusion and access and consult with known experts in the field at all stages of the planning.

Several members of the FDR Committee Advisory Board, Jane Deland, Steven Graham, Arlene King-Berry, John Kemp, Meg O’Connell, and Executive Director Mary Dolan pressed upon the NTHP the requirement to expand their current and limited approach to direct stakeholder involvement. “Disability community leadership and educators, both local to DC and nationally, are two of the key groups we feel are missing from this critical conversation,” said Meg O’Connell, Founder and CEO of Global Disability Inclusion.

The mission of the FDR Committee is to ensure that the efforts by the disability community to guarantee representation at the FDR Memorial in Washington DC is not forgotten and, as initially intended, becomes part of the Memorial’s educational materials, visitor information, and collective memory. Every year nearly 2.5 million people visit the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC, dedicated in 1997 to pay tribute to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Visitors now experience a seamlessly constructed memorial; however, representation of FDR’s disability was not included in the initial design. After a hard-fought campaign led by the people with disabilities, the first room – Prologue – was eventually added four years after the initial opening of the Memorial. The FDR Committee’s priority is to ensure this story is accurately told and preserved for history. 

The FDR Committee laid out the following points to further encourage NTHP to expand their approach to inclusivity and representation. 

  1. Expansion of the stakeholders to the Ideas Lab to include:
    1. The disability community leadership – both local to DC and nationally.
    2. DC residents across all Wards with the intent to enhance usage and access to the National Mall and its assets.
    3. Educators from DC area and beyond as key individuals who will utilize the Tidal Basin area for educational purposes.
  2. NTHP to highlight to National Park Service (NPS) and other cooperating agencies and institutions:
    1. The importance of funding educational programming at the FDR Memorial to tell the underrepresented stories related to the Memorial and the Roosevelt era.
    2. The concern that any repairs to the FDR Memorial including the fountains be done in a comprehensive and integrated manner that takes into account the original intent of the FDR Memorial design and future plans for the Tidal Basin. NTHP should remind NPS and others of Steven Graham’s interest and expertise as an original artist of the FDR Memorial.
    3. The importance of fast tracking an accessibility and inclusion review at the FDR Memorial and surrounding areas as proposed by the FDR Committee and make needed improvements in consultation with the disability community and recognized experts in Universal Design.
  3. The Ideas Lab and all future plans related to the Tidal Basin, the FDR Memorial and the National Mall to utilize the best practices in Universal Design to maximize inclusion and access and consult with known experts in the field at all stages of the planning.
  4. Allowing the FDR Memorial and the areas nearby to become inaccessible and to fall into serious disrepairs sends a message of disrespect and a lack of value of the disability community, and of the FDR Memorial overall.
  5. Use of the lands in and around the FDR Memorial should be considered for educational purposes such as an enhanced visitor center; and flexible uses of the land to further the interpretation of the legacy of FDR, Eleanor, their era and current-day applications.
  6. Engagement of DC “homegrown talent” through involvement of DC’s public university - the University of the District of Columbia - in opportunities such as internships, apprenticeships, training, and educational partnerships throughout the life of the Tidal Basin project.

The Tidal Basin Ideas Lab has released for public exhibition the proposals to address the pressing need for repairs and improvements from five leading landscape architecture firms – DLANDstudio; GGN; Hood Design Studio; James Corner Field Operations; and Reed Hilderbrand. The FDR Committee is calling on the disability community and other audiences that may have been left off from the initial stakeholder conversations to review these proposals and provide feedback as the first step in making our voice heard.



FDR Memorial Legacy Committee 

The FDR Committee brings together historians, disability and civil rights advocates, artists, academics, leaders in government, business, and non-profits, and interested people from across the country. The FDR Committee operates independently under the non-profit status of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), which serves as a fiscal sponsor.