The Washington National Cathedral will unveil its new racial-justice-themed stained-glass windows, created by noted artist Kerry James Marshall, on Sept. 23.
The newly designed windows replace windows that honored Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, which contained two depictions of the rebel battle flag, which were removed in 2017.
Cathedral officials said the windows — themed “Now and Forever” — signify a new chapter in its legacy of art and architecture, symbolizing its dedication to serving as a sacred gathering space where all Americans can witness themselves reflected in the building’s expanding art and iconography.
The Cathedral’s commission represents Marshall’s first time working with stained glass as a medium, and the windows will be one of only three permanent public exhibitions of the artist’s art in the U.S.
“Art isn’t only about aesthetics; it also can be a tool for reinterpreting familiar narratives and confronting uncomfortable truths,” Marshall said. “It can also inspire progress, and these windows are a visual invitation to reflect on the meaning of America today.”
Poetess Elizabeth Alexander will read a poem marking the occasion. The poem’s wording will be hand-carved into limestone tablets over the next nine months.
“The addition of these windows and the powerful words that accompany them allows us to tell a truer story of America, a story that confronts our past and invites all of us into a more inclusive and hopeful future,” said the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of the Cathedral.