September 29, 2011

Kennedy Center’s home renamed One Magnolia Circle

Kennedy Center’s home renamed One Magnolia Circle

The building that houses the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Department of special education and the Susan Gray School has received a long-anticipated new name. Known in recent years as the MRL building, the original Mental Retardation Laboratory located on Magnolia Circle and backing 21st Avenue North is now named “One Magnolia Circle.”

The facility was named in 1965 at a time when “mental retardation” was appropriate nomenclature to describe intellectual disability. Presently, disability advocates have strived to change terminology, including a national “R-word” campaign, “Spread the Word to End the Word,” created by the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation for the Benefit of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities and supported by the Special Olympics.

“As we’ve come to value persons with intellectual disabilities, and as we’ve listened to self-advocates and family members, our language for disability has changed,” said Kennedy Center director Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D. “When the Kennedy Center was founded nearly 50 years ago, the term ‘mental retardation’ brought attention to a national need for prevention and treatment. Now, the term ‘intellectual disability’ is preferred.

“We’re proud that our community — the Kennedy Center, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University and its Board of Trust — have agreed to rename this building and leave ‘MRL’ behind,” Dykens said. “We join with others across the nation in the ‘spread the word to end the word’ campaign.”