Energy & Environment

Sierra Club to remove monuments of founder John Muir over his racist history

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The Sierra Club will remove monuments of its founder John Muir over his racist history, the environmental conservation organization announced Wednesday morning.

The green group, which Muir founded in 1892, said that as the country begins to reassess the purpose and meaning of Confederate statues and memorials, “it’s time to take down some of our own monuments, starting with some truth-telling about the Sierra Club’s early history.”

Muir, who fought to preserve Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Forest, made derogatory statements about Black and indigenous people. The Sierra Club said that as the “most iconic figure in Sierra Club history, Muir’s words and actions carry an especially heavy weight.”

The organization said Muir’s words “continue to hurt and alienate Indigenous people and people of color who come into contact with the Sierra Club.”

“The most monumental figure in the Sierra Club’s past is John Muir,” it said in a statement. “Beloved by many of our members, his writings taught generations of people to see the sacredness of nature.”

The Sierra Club also called out other prominent members who were part of its troubled past. Leaders such as Joseph LeConte and David Starr Jordan “were vocal advocates for white supremacy and its pseudo-scientific arm, eugenics,” the organization said. 

The group said it is committing $5 million from its budget over the next year to make “long-overdue investments in our staff of color and our environmental and racial justice work.”

“We will also spend the next year studying our history and determining which of our monuments need to be renamed or pulled down entirely,” the Sierra Club said.

Tags Confederate monuments Confederate statues John Muir Sierra Club The Sierra Club

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