A campaign of several years to remove monuments to people associated with the Confederacy or to rename places and facilities honoring them gained momentum in the weeks and months after the unrest of the summer of 2020. But the effort is not to just remove statues or rename military bases. Supporters of the effort also say it’s long past time to recognize people who have contributed positively but who do not have a prominent presence among monuments and other places of honor. The national reckoning around race also prompted two professional sports teams to change their names.
Key questions: Who does your school and community honor, and who is overlooked?
- Does your school, neighborhood or community recognize contributions of people from a variety of backgrounds?
- How do the landmarks, schools, libraries, streets, parks, statues and other named items align with the demographics of the people who live there? What do the people who live there think of this?
- Do any of the place and landmark names in your community use terminology that is offensive or outdated? Are these places and landmarks in honor of people who have pasts that are seen differently today?
- Who should be honored in your community? How do you or your peers suggest they be honored?
- Do any school mascots in your community or athletic conference use offensive identities, terminology or imagery? What is their history, and how are these mascots being re-evaluated today?
- The House Votes To Remove Confederate Statues In The U.S. Capitol (NPR, June 29)
- All But 5% Of U.S. Capitol Sculptures Are Of Men. Some Senators Want To Change That (NPR, July 29)
- Biden signs bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday (Associated Press, June 17)
- The Pentagon has 3 years to strip Confederate names from bases. Here’s what comes next (Politico, Jan. 5)
- In Virginia, statues were removed in Richmond (The Washington Post, July 7) and Charlottesville (Associated Press, July 11).
- Ida B. Wells ‘Light of Truth’ Monument Unveiled In Bronzeville: ‘This Happened Because We Were Determined To Make It Happen’ (Block Club Chicago, June 30) — “The monument’s completion comes as cities throughout the country are grappling with who and how they honor historic figures, particularly those who oppressed Black, Indigenous and other nonwhite people. Hannah-Jones, who spearheaded ‘The 1619 Project,’ urged people to ‘fill the empty spaces left behind with true Americans who actually fought for the ideas of liberty and freedom.’”
- Anatomy of a Mascot (The New York Times Magazine, June 30) — “But many students, with the backing of the majority of the school board, believe the moniker and the mascot are noninclusive at best, and racist at worst. The National Congress of American Indians, the American Psychological Association and the National Museum of the American Indian concur.”
- Hundreds Of Schools Are Still Using Native Americans As Team Mascots (FiveThirtyEight, Oct. 12, 2020)
- Cleveland changing name from Indians to Guardians after 2021 season (ESPN, July 23)
- A timeline of the Washington Football Team’s name change saga (NBC Sports, July 3) — “The team will enter 2021 as The Washington Football Team and what comes after that is not known.”
The list reflects what I have read, heard and seen in my own media diet, so it comes from my perspective. Chicago is also over-represented because that’s where I live and work. The list is not meant to be comprehensive or exclusive of other ideas. Many of the stories were covered by multiple outlets, but links here lean toward sites available without a subscription, particularly nonprofit news sites like NPR and The 19th.