Washington Nat’l Cathedral Replaces Confederate Themed Glass Windows With Racial Justice Themed Glass



Light shines through new stained-glass windows with a theme of racial justice during a ceremony at the Washington National Cathedral for the windows on Sept. 23, 2023. (Photo via; AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Light shines through new stained-glass windows with a theme of racial justice during a ceremony at the Washington National Cathedral for the windows on Sept. 23, 2023. (Photo via; AP Photo/Nick Wass)

By Abril Elfi
5:55 PM – Sunday, September 24, 2023

The Washington National Cathedral has revealed that their new stained glass windows will portray a racial justice theme, meant to replace the previous windows that honored Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

On Saturday, six years after the removal of two stained-glass windows honoring Confederate Lee and Jackson, the Washington National Cathedral unveiled the replacements.

The replacement glass is titled “Now and Forever” and it “centers around racial and social justice.” They were designed and created by artist Kerry James Marshall.

It displays a group of protesters marching and holding signs that read “Fairness” and “No Foul Play.”

Marshall spoke at the reveal and stated that the event shows a change of symbolism that is meant to repair a breach of America’s promise of liberty.

“Today’s event has been organized to highlight one instance where a change of symbolism is meant to repair a breach of America’s creation promise of liberty and justice for all,” he said. “The windows reinforce those ideals and aspirations embodied in the Cathedral’s structure and its mission to remind us that we can be better, and do better than we did yesterday, today.”

Although the cathedral is owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, it is frequently used for national services.

Leaders first considered removing the windows in 2015, when then-Dean Gary Hall advocated for their removal following the deadly shooting of nine Black churchgoers at Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina, by a White supremacist.

For decades, windows in the cathedral’s main worship hall featured Lee and Jackson, as well as scenes from their lives and military careers. They were originally put in place in 1953 to “foster reconciliation” between the North and South.

Hall said that while such emotion was “good and noble, the Cathedral has changed, and so has the America it seeks to represent.”

The Very Reverend Randolph Marshall Hollerith, the current dean, said in a speech during the revamped windows’ dedication on Saturday, that: “Simply put, these windows were offensive, and they were a barrier to the ministry of this cathedral, and they were antithetical to our call to be a house of prayer for all people.” 

“They told a false narrative, extolling two individuals who fought to keep the institution of slavery alive in this country,” Hollerith continued. “They were intended to elevate the Confederacy, and they completely ignored the millions of Black Americans who have fought so hard and struggled so long to claim their birthright as equal citizens.”

The cathedral’s leadership reportedly voted in 2016 to remove the Confederate flags from some of the windows and to replace them with plain glass.

After a White supremacist demonstration took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, resulting in the death of a counter protester, the window was eventually removed the next year in 2017. The windows were deconsecrated, which is a religious process that removes their sacred status, and they are now being kept at the Cathedral.

Following the killing of George Floyd in 2020, the cathedral leased the Robert E. Lee glass to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture for a year-long exhibit on the Jim Crow legacy.