Black activist and founder of The New Democracy Coalition Kevin Peterson continues to receive nationwide press and attention after completing a hunger strike he embarked on as part of his fight for change. Peterson is behind a push for a name change for a historic landmark in Boston, Faneuil Hall.
The landmark, sometimes referred to as the Cradle of Liberty, was once the location for the trade and transport of thousands of human slaves. The owner Peter Faneuil, who donated the building to the city, also owned several slaves himself.
Starting on June 22, 2020, and lasting for seven full days and nights, Peterson went through a wide range of emotions and physical challenges that consisted of severe stomach pains, instances of nausea and severe dehydration. It was not uncommon for many tourists visiting the site during the 168-hour ordeal to see Peterson rallying his cause with a Boycott Faneuil Hall sign wrapped around his neck.
“The hunger fast was particularly grueling, to not eat food for 7 days works on your mind, your spirit and your body in ways you wouldn’t understand,” Peterson said in a July 20 statement to Atlanta Black Star. “At the end I was overjoyed that I had engaged in a protest that brought so much attention to this issue of white supremacy.”
Faneuil Hall was rated number four on America’s 25 Most Visited Tourist Sites list by Forbes. Despite its popularity as one of the city’s staple locations to visit and shop, reportedly no businesses there are owned by persons of color. It’s one of the reasons Peterson has effortlessly lobbied to begin citywide hearings on the renaming of the tourist attraction and efforts allocated to help diversify businesses at Faneuil Hall.
Peterson continues to speak out against racial injustice and has been successfully garnering renewed effort to rename Faneuil Hall in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston has indicated he was open to talking about a renaming. He’d previously released a statement on the issue. “If we were to change the name of Faneuil Hall today, 30 years from now, no one would know why we did it,” Walsh said, according to Boston.com. “Not many people know about the history of that man. And over the years, Faneuil Hall has become a place where good things have happened: historic speeches such as Frederick Douglass’ call for the end to slavery, the signing of forward thinking legislation like the affordable care act, and where hundreds of people take their oath of citizenship every year. What we should do instead, is figure out a way to acknowledge the history so people understand it. We can’t erase history, but we can learn from it.”