Peace & Justice Monuments
Monday’s Monument: Haymarket Memorial, Chicago, Illinois

Monday’s Monument: Haymarket Memorial, Chicago, Illinois

This statue in Haymarket square is the culmination of more than a century grappling with the meaning of the Haymarket Riot. On May 4, 1886, a labor rally near Chicago’s Haymarket Square turned into a riot after someone threw a bomb at police. At least eleven people...

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Monday’s Monument: I Am Queen Mary, Copenhagen, Denmark

Monday’s Monument: I Am Queen Mary, Copenhagen, Denmark

I Am Queen Mary is a 23-foot tall statue of St. Croix’s Queen Mary Thomas, who, alongside two other women, Queen Agnes and Queen Matilda, led a 19th century labor uprising in the former Danish colony. Freed from slavery in 1848, the Danish Virgin Island's Black...

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Since May 2015, every Monday morning I have 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.”

Alfred Nobel

As we showcase these monuments we hope you will join us in this exploration. For now, we’re concentrating on publicly accessible outdoor works. 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.

Monday’s Monument: Peace Bridge, Derry, Northern Ireland

Monday’s Monument: Peace Bridge, Derry, Northern Ireland

The Derry Peace Bridge over the River Foyle crosses a 400 year old physical and political gap between two sides of a once bitterly divided community. Its two structural arms head in opposite directions, symbolizing the unification of both communities from the opposite...

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Monday’s Monument: Angels Unawares, Vatican City

Monday’s Monument: Angels Unawares, Vatican City

On September 29, 2019, following the celebration of Mass and the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis unveiled a sculpture entitled “Angels Unawares” by Canadian artist Timothy Schmaltz, in St Peter’s Square. It commemorates the 105th World Day of Migrants and...

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Monday’s Monument: Henge, Glenrothes, Scotland

Monday’s Monument: Henge, Glenrothes, Scotland

This circular henge sculpture by David Harding is comprised of 13 concrete slabs in spiral formation, gradually increasing in height from 2.0m to 2.75m. The inside faces of the henge in are in relief, each with a different decorative relief molding. References include...

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Monday’s Monument: Thanks-Giving Square, Dallas, Texas

Monday’s Monument: Thanks-Giving Square, Dallas, Texas

In 1964, four businessmen — Joe O. Neuhoff, Julius Schepps, John M. Stemmons, and Peter P. Stewart — wanted the City of Dallas to be known "not only for its worldly aspirations and economic accomplishments, but also for the enduring heart of its citizens." The...

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Monday’s Monument: Ave Quiromantica, Malaga, Spain

Monday’s Monument: Ave Quiromantica, Malaga, Spain

The Ave Quiromantica is a bronze sculpture located on Calle Bolsa, Malaga, Andalusia, Spain. It is half dove and half an open hand, the whole sculpture resting on a marble base. It was based on a sketch done by the poet Rafael Perez Estrada, to whom the monument is...

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Monday’s Monument: Ann Chwazi Lapè, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Monday’s Monument: Ann Chwazi Lapè, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

The Head of the UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), Sandra Honoré, unveiled this peace sculpture in the country's capital Port-au-Prince on September 28, 2017. The installation, which will remain at the National Police Academy, is called ‘Ann Chwazi Lapè’ (meaning ‘Let's...

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Monday’s Monument: Los Seis de Boulder, Boulder, Colorado

Monday’s Monument: Los Seis de Boulder, Boulder, Colorado

Awakened Mexican-American students were changing the culture at the University of Colorado Boulder campus, as they were nationwide, and the administration didn't like it. In 1973, in apparent retaliation, they cut off the financial aid of the students who had come to...

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Monday’s Monument: Body To Soul, Wellington, New Zealand

Monday’s Monument: Body To Soul, Wellington, New Zealand

The stairs of this sculpture are made of black granite. They evoke the image of a war memorial, without specifically referencing life or death. It shows how to get from the word Body to the word Soul by changing one letter at a time to create a new four letter word....

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Monday’s Monument: La Paloma, Monterrey, Mexico

Monday’s Monument: La Paloma, Monterrey, Mexico

Could that building's color be enchilada red? San Antonio readers are probably disoriented by this photo. No, this is not the San Antonio Central Library. It is the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, designed by Ricardo Legorreta in 1991, the same year he won...

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Monday’s Monument: Gandhi Statue, Funchal, Madiera, Portugal

Monday’s Monument: Gandhi Statue, Funchal, Madiera, Portugal

The President of the Regional Government, Miguel Albuquerque and India’s Ambassador to Portugal, Nandini Singla, dedicated this bust of Mohandas Gandhi in Praça do Povo (People’s Square) on 5 September, 2019. Gandhi passed through Funchal in 1906 as he traveled from...

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Monday’s Monument: Peace Memorial, Urbana, Illinois

Monday’s Monument: Peace Memorial, Urbana, Illinois

In 1968, the University of Illinois’ classes of 1918 and 1919 requested Donald J. Molnar, who was a campus landscape architect at the time, to build a memorial commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of World War I. He envisioned a fountain and a statue in the...

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Monday’s Monument: The Sphere, New York, New York

Monday’s Monument: The Sphere, New York, New York

The Sphere was commissioned by the owner of the World Trade Center, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in 1966. Sculptor Fritz Koenig started work in 1967 in his barn in Bavaria, while the WTC was in the planning stages, and finished it four years later in...

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MONUMENT (n.)

late 13c., “a sepulchre,” from Old French monument “grave, tomb, monument,” and directly from Latin monumentum “a monument, memorial structure, statue; votive offering; tomb; memorial record,” literally “something that reminds,” from monere “to admonish, warn, advice,” from PIE *moneyo-, suffixed (causative) form of root *men- (1) “to think.” Sense of “structure or edifice to commemorate a notable person, action, or event” first attested c. 1600.

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?

Want to learn more about monuments? Check out my bookshelf.

Ready to Kill

by Carl Sandburg (Chicago Poems, 1916)

TEN minutes now I have been looking at this.
I have gone by here before and wondered about it.
This is a bronze memorial of a famous general
Riding horseback with a flag and a sword and a revolver on him.
I want to smash the whole thing into a pile of junk to be hauled away to the scrap yard.
I put it straight to you,
After the farmer, the miner, the shop man, the factory hand, the fireman and the teamster,
Have all been remembered with bronze memorials,
Shaping them on the job of getting all of us
Something to eat and something to wear,
When they stack a few silhouettes
Against the sky
Here in the park,
And show the real huskies that are doing the work of the world, and feeding people instead of butchering them,
Then maybe I will stand here
And look easy at this general of the army holding a flag in the air,
And riding like hell on horseback
Ready to kill anybody that gets in his way,
Ready to run the red blood and slush the bowels of men all over the sweet new grass of the prairie.

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