Peace & Justice Monuments
Monday’s Monument: Peace Wall, Ashland, Oregon

Monday’s Monument: Peace Wall, Ashland, Oregon

In 2007, in the midst of the Iraq War, artist and antiwar activist Jean Bakewell was frustrated and wanted to do something. As she walked along the railroad chain link fence behind A Street, an idea came: Invite artists and friends to make peace banners to hang on the...

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Monday’s Monument: Violata Pax, Montgomery, Alabama

Monday’s Monument: Violata Pax, Montgomery, Alabama

The Violata Pax (Wounded Peace) Dove symbolizes beauty and peace, sorrow and tragedy. Where you stand determines what you see. The sculpture was originally commissioned as part of a post-earthquake renovation project for the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in...

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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: Quaw’s Quest, Cave Hill, Barbados

Monday’s Monument: Quaw’s Quest, Cave Hill, Barbados

QUAW was an enslaved man living in Barbados in the early 19th century, captured in Guinea at 13 and emancipated by age 37. In 2013, a part of the University of The West Indies at Cave Hill was named Quaw’s Quest, with the unveiling of a monument depicting replicas of...

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Monday’s Monument: The Arising, Duluth, Minnesota

Monday’s Monument: The Arising, Duluth, Minnesota

After a number of violent crimes that occurred in the community, several Duluthians saw a need to address the community healing through commemorative artwork. The sculpture is a cast bronze of several forearms and hands which at the top rest a dove, with wings...

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Monday’s Monument: Statue of Peace, Udine, Italy

Monday’s Monument: Statue of Peace, Udine, Italy

The Statue of Peace (the seated figure on the right of the photo) was donated to the city of Udine in 1819 by Emperor Francis I to commemorate the peace Treaty of Campoformido. It is located in the Piazza Liberta. Udine is in the far northeast of Italy, not far from...

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Monday’s Monument: Rush-Bagot Monument, Washington, D.C.

Monday’s Monument: Rush-Bagot Monument, Washington, D.C.

After the War of 1812, tensions between the U.S. and Britain were still high. One reason was militarization of the Great Lakes. U.S. Minister and future president John Quincy Adams had proposed the idea of disarmament of the Great Lakes; the British government, liking...

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Monday’s Monument: Brotherhood of Man, Calgary, Canada

Monday’s Monument: Brotherhood of Man, Calgary, Canada

These ten 21-foot-tall statues were built by Spanish artist Mario Armengol for the lobby of Britain's Pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal. There, the figures suggested the dominance of man and stood next to what the British suggested were their gifts to the modern...

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Monday’s Monument: Akdeniz, Istanbul, Turkey

Monday’s Monument: Akdeniz, Istanbul, Turkey

Akdeniz (1980) is a monumental sculpture by Turkish sculptor İlhan Koman. It is currently located at the Yapı Kredi Culture Center, having been moved from another location where it had been installed in 1980. it is a figure of a woman with open arms formed out of 112...

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Monday’s Monument: Free At Last, Boston, Massachusetts

Monday’s Monument: Free At Last, Boston, Massachusetts

Located in Marsh Plaza on the campus of Boston University, Free at Last is an abstract sculpture made of rust-covered sheets of hammered Cor-Ten steel welded together to form a flock of fifty doves in flight. Each dove represents one of the fifty states. The sculpture...

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Monday’s Monument: “Uncle Jack,” Baton Rouge, LA

Monday’s Monument: “Uncle Jack,” Baton Rouge, LA

The Good Darky (also called Uncle Jack) is a 1927 statue of an unnamed, elderly African American man. Originally erected in Natchitoches, Louisiana, it stood there until 1968, but is now on the grounds of the Louisiana State University Rural Life Museum in Baton...

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Monday’s Monument: Peace Obelisk, Jenner, California

Monday’s Monument: Peace Obelisk, Jenner, California

This sculpture is inside a 60-foot circular state park, the second smallest state park in California, on the Sonoma Coast. Also known as 'Madonna of Peace' and 'The Expanding Universe,' the 93-foot sculpture dominates the cliff and is visible far down the highway and...

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Monday’s Monument: Spirit of Peace, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Monday’s Monument: Spirit of Peace, Minneapolis, Minnesota

This series of sculptures illustrates the ancient craft of origami and folding a peace crane. Words of peace are engraved at the central base in 23 languages. The surrounding walking path includes peace stones, taken from ground zero in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, with...

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Monday’s Monument: Quill and Cube, Dover, Delaware

Monday’s Monument: Quill and Cube, Dover, Delaware

This monument symbolizes Delaware as the first state to sign the Constitution. It is stainless steel and bronze set in a stone base. The cube has inscribed portions of the Constitution etched into a stainless steel surface. The 13-foot quill is bronze. The stainless...

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Monday’s Monument: Flamme de la Paix, Timbuktu, Mali

Monday’s Monument: Flamme de la Paix, Timbuktu, Mali

The Flame of Peace or “Flamme de la Paix” is a peace monument located on the northwest part of Timbuktu facing the desert. This white construction with rifles, kalashnikovs and rocket launchers embedded in the surrounding concrete is the actual place where more than...

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Monday’s Monument: Friendship Statue, Macao, China

Monday’s Monument: Friendship Statue, Macao, China

Macao, a Portuguese colony for 450 years, was turned over to the Chinese in 1999, whence it became a special administrative region. Before the handoff, the Portuguese spiffed up the long-neglected old town, recognizing that the Chinese would be more willing to...

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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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