$250M Project Rethinks Monuments

Mellon Foundation donates $250M to telling a more inclusive history in public spaces
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2020 3:13 PM CDT
Project Seeks New Approaches to Monuments
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala., shown in 2018.   (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

With monuments under attack that honor Confederates, Christopher Columbus and others whose records are being reconsidered, a $250 million project will look for new approaches to reflecting the nation's history. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation plans to reimagine existing monuments and develop new approaches to future installations, including statues, museums and markers, the New York Times reports. The foundation will suggest what to remove or redo. "It will depend on who comes to us, with which project," said Elizabeth Alexander, its president. The foundation's previous efforts include donating $5 million toward the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala., which tells the story of lynching and enslaved people in the US.

The goal is to convey a more inclusive history in public spaces, including stories that have been marginalized. "There are so many stories of who we are that need to be told," Alexander said. "We don't have our actual, true history represented in our landscape." Less than 2% of the sites on the National Historic Register concern Black people, she said, per ABC, and the totals are lower for Latino, Asian American, and Native American people. Greater context could be added to existing monuments that may distort history. Alexander gave the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington as an example of a successful, inclusive monument. Mitch Landrieu, who was mayor of New Orleans when the city took down its four remaining Confederate monuments, praised the Mellon project. "I hope other philanthropic groups will continue to work together to lift up the entire history of the country," he said. (A milestone monument in Boston has been vandalized.)

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