Request the Monuments Database
The weekly “Monday’s Monument” feature on this website is being fed from a database we are compiling that currently contains 200+ monuments. If you’d like a copy of the database, drop us a line.
Peace & Justice Monuments
Since May, 2015, every Monday morning the peaceCENTER has been posting a little essay about a peace or social justice monument. For more than a decade, ever since the peaceCENTER was contracted by a national peace & human rights group to develop a workshop exploring strategies for creating memorials about acts of violence and injustice that did not glorify the bloodshed, we have pondered the relationship between the landscape and civic memory.
“I would rather take care of the stomachs of the living than the glory of the departed in the form of monuments.”
As we showcase these monuments we hope you will join us in this exploration. For now, we’re concentrating on publicly accessible outdoor works (indoor art, museums and historic sites may come later . . . ) Some are grassroots and homespun; others, more complicated in their funding and execution. They all have a story to tell and we can learn from all of them.
The Slave Memorial in Zanzibar, Tanzania, recalls how slaves were once held in underground chambers until sold in the nearby slave market. Swedish sculptor Clara Sornas produced the work in 1998. The chains are real historical artifacts. The slave trade shifted to...read more
Dedicated in November 2017, the Slave Trade Marker, located in a small park where the waters of the Delaware River once flowed, is a cast-iron sign proclaiming in large gold letters the weight of America’s original sin: “Enslaved Africans Once Sold Here.” More than...read more
The Unsung Founders Memorial at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is located in McCorkle Place, one of the University’s quads. The memorial is a black granite tabletop supported by 300 bronze figurines and surrounded by 5 black stone seats. The...read more
In 2003 Brown University undertook a study of the university’s relationship to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The findings of the three-year study showed that slavery and the slave trade were pervasive throughout Rhode Island; Rhode Island dominated the North...read more
This sculpture was installed in 2000 in a courtyard at Georgetown University Schools of Medicine and Dentistry. According to the artist, Michael Alfano, ethics means the study of ideal conduct. To that end, the sculpture tries to provide a model for the ideal conduct...read more
This statue, by Jacques Lipchitz, was commissioned by the City of Philadelphia to fulfill a public art requirement in what is now called Thomas Paine Plaza, in front of the new Municipal Services Building across from City Hall. In 1972 it was in Italy, awaiting...read more
The Arts of War and The Arts of Peace are bronze statue groups on Lincoln Memorial Circle in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C.. Commissioned in 1929 to complement the plaza constructed on the east side of the Lincoln Memorial as part of the Arlington Memorial...read more
Apotheosis of Democracy is on the United States Capitol House of Representatives portico's east front in Washington, D.C. The pediment's center focal point is the figure of allegorical Peace, which is dressed in armor and is depicted protecting Genius. Leaning against...read more
Installed on the south side exterior of Philadelphia’s Independence Visitor’s Center in 2003, Alison Sky’s Indelible is a site-specific, narrative work intended to create awareness about American history that has gone undisclosed. The artwork is a stucco relief of a...read more
In September 2017 the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines unveiled a statue of the late human rights lawyer Jose "Pepe" Diokno, appointed by President Corazon Aquino as the founding chairman of the country's watchdog agency against rights abuses and...read more
Thomas Paine, philosopher of the American and French Revolutions, author of “Common Sense,” has been a controversial figure when it comes to monuments. In 1942 a Paine statue was proposed for Fairmount Park in Philadelphia but the idea was shot down because his book...read more
A Quaker at a time when Quakers were banned from Massachusetts, Dyer eventually hanged for her insistence on religious liberty in the English colony. The statue by Sylvia Shaw Judson went up in 1959 at a descendant's bequest. It's diagonally across from the Boston...read more
A memorial to the English Quaker, abolitionist and activist Joseph Sturge (1793–1859) was unveiled before a crowd of 12,000 people on 4 June 1862 at Five Ways, Birmingham, England, near his former home. Sturge is posed as if he were teaching, with his right hand...read more
Henry Richard is chiefly known as an advocate of peace and international arbitration, having been secretary of the Peace Society for forty years (1848–84). He is less widely known for his other interests, especially his anti-slavery work. The statue was dedicated in...read more
On 26 June 1955, more than 3 000 representatives of resistance organizations made their way through police cordons to gather on a dusty square in Kliptown, 40 kilometers south of Johannesburg. This “Congress of the People” met to draw up the Freedom Charter, an...read more
Ten Questions to Ask at a Historic Site
In his book Lies Across America, Professor James Loewen posed these ten questions to ask at a historic site.
1. When did this location become a historic site? (When was the marker or monument put up? Or the house interpreted?) How did that time differ from ours? From the time of the event or person interpreted?
2. Who sponsored it? representing which participant groups’s point of view? What was their position in the social structure when the event occurred? When the site went “up”?
3. What were the sponsor’s motives? What were their ideological needs and social purposes? What were their values?
4. What is the intended audience for the site? What values were they trying to leave for us, today? What does the site ask us to go and do or think about?
5. Did the sponsors have government support? At what level? Who was ruling the government at the time? What ideological arguments were used to get the government acquiescence?
6. Who is left out? What points of view go largely unheard? How would the story differ if a different group told it? Another political party? Race? Sex? Class? Religious group?
7. Are there problematic (insulting, degrading) words or symbols that would not be used today, or by other groups?
8. How is the site used today? Do traditional rituals continue to connect today’s public to it? Or is it ignored? Why?
9. Is the presentation accurate? What actually happened? What historical sources tell of the event, people, or period commemorated at this site?
10. How does the site fit in with others that treat the same era? Or subject? What other people lived ad events happened then but are not commemorated? Why?
Travel across the United States in a 1965 Airstream Trailer as filmmaker Tom Trinley visits historic sites and monuments unveiling the many sides of history not told on the landscape or in history books. On-camera appearances by Howard Zinn, James Loewen, Lonnie Bunch and Adam “Fortunate Eagle” Nordwall. Inspired by “Lies My Teacher Told Me” and “A Peoples’ History of the United States.”
At the Un-National Monument along the Canadian Border
By William E. Stafford
This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.
Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed—or were killed—on this ground
hallowed by neglect and an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmear’d with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
–William Shakespeare, from Sonnet 55
Listen to this song!
And we find it really hard to say we’re sorry
So the shadow of injustice still remains
We build monuments to those who died in battle
But we seldom speak of those who died in chains