America's Complicated Past Stirs Battle Over Monuments, Memorials

The Takeaway

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From statutes of Robert E. Lee in New Orleans, to halls named after President Woodrow Wilson at Princeton University, communities across the country are grappling with how best to commemorate the past. 

According to Renee Romano, a professor of History, Africana Studies and Comparative American Studies at Oberlin College, "When we put up a monument, we are saying not only this is our history, but this is the past we choose to celebrate."

Romano continues: "Putting up a monument is not only about legitimizing history, it's also about access to public space, who has access to full citizenship, to civic equality? Since the sixties, there's been a long, hard fight by African-Americans and other racial groups to say our history needs to be represented, but also we need to take down monuments that are monuments to white supremacy, because that degrades us in public space."