Coverage ideas: Who we honor and how — monuments, mascots and history

A plaque on the Ida B. Wells monument states, "The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them." Photo © Logan Aimone.
A plaque on the Ida B. Wells monument states, “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” Photo © Logan Aimone.

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  • Do any of the place and landmark names in your community use terminology that is offensive or outdated?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?

Monuments 

Mascots 

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.

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