Confederate Statues inquiry

What can our monuments teach us about history and ourselves?
(updated with the most recent, relevant links)

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One of most famous news photos of all time, made into the Iwo Jima memorial after World War II, was actually a photo of soldiers replacing an American flag already positioned there. It ended up being much more serviceable than the original.

There’s a fitting recipe for classroom inquiry in recent current events about Confederate statues.

Here are a few essential questions to ask or assign:

What purpose do statues serve?
What star qualities make for the best statues?
Do we need statues? Who should decide which ones exist?
Are there people (or events) who should have a statue that don’t? Why?

(sidenote) If you take on the National History Day process in your classroom, researching the last question could help students choose topics.

Here’s an interesting article to get you thinking about statues more broadly:

Here’s a good post to get you thinking about some of the most disgusting historical memorials that still exist:

Here’s a worthwhile instagram account that will take you on a visual tour of the deep(er) South:

i.e. This video captures the river site where Emmett Till’s body was found in 1955, where the conditions which led to his murder have not entirely disappeared.

Here’s a good article about why people want to remove Confederate statues:

Here are a few good articles about how many Confederate statues exist, when they were installed, and how many are coming down:

Here’s an interesting primary source to utilize:

And here’s a fitting summary from Isabel Wilkerson’s book, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents”:

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Here’s a fitting, fake article about statues that might represent Americans better, especially if you need some levity:

Maybe we should put up monuments to curious, struggling, persistent, learners inside and outside our schools…

If I had to pick one quote to memorialize in hallways, it would be this:

Additional questions to ask:

How are statues similar to our resumes or social media profiles?

Do we need to include writing about the largest mass execution in American history in Minnesota or on the Lincoln Memorial?

Or a note about the only government to ever deploy a nuclear weapon on a civilian population outside the Truman Library?

Or should we expand the conversation to the history of the words we still commonly use as well?

What does this quote from Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address mean in the current context?

“The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Finally, here’s another favorite article from this current event, as it relates to so many important things that we care about:

In many current events cases, “Jumping straight to action is completely ineffective…”

Keep supporting those who break the barriers and chip away at the pillars of dehumanization.

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