Lifestyle

Mellon Foundation Launches Monuments Project Amid Unrest

Makes 5-Year, $250M Commitment

After a summer of racial injustice protests following the police-involved deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, contention over confederate monuments by opponents heightened, resulting in some being brought down or in some cases toppled in cities across the U.S.

In light of this, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is offering a remedy, of sorts.

The foundation last week announced the creation of The Monuments Project, the largest initiative in the organization’s 50-year history, to support the creation of new monuments, as well as the relocation or rethinking of existing ones.

“Statues are not just bodies in bronze, and monuments are not just stone pillars. They instruct. They lift up the stories of those who are seen, dominate the stories of those who are unseen, and too often propagate menacingly incomplete accounts of our country’s past,” the foundation writes.

The Monuments Project is a five-year, $250 million commitment by the Mellon Foundation to support efforts to center national narratives to include those who have often been denied historical recognition.

“This work has taken on greater urgency at a moment of national reckoning with the power and influence of memorials and commemorative spaces.”

Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander told The New York Times that the nonprofit will not itself recommend monuments for removal or rethinking. Instead, it will fund projects that are brought to it.

Grants made under the Monuments Project will fall under the following areas of activity: Fund new monuments, memorials, or historic storytelling spaces; contextualize existing monuments or memorials through installations, research, and education; and relocate existing monuments or memorials.

The foundation says its initiative will educate the public about our shared collective past to shape a more just future. This comes after a June announcement that it was revising its mission to put a focus on social justice.

“It will broaden our understanding of how we define commemorative spaces by including not only memorials, historical markers, public statuary, and permanent monuments but also storytelling spaces and ephemeral or temporary installations,” the foundation writes.

“The Monuments Project will transform the way our country’s histories are told in public spaces and ensure that future generations inherit a commemorative landscape that venerates and reflects the vast, rich complexity of the American story.”

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Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s millennial publication. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, she attended Howard University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. A proud southern girl, her lineage can be traced to the Gullah people inhabiting the low-country of South Carolina. The history of the Gullah people and the Geechee Dialect can be found on the top floor of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In her spare time she enjoys watching either college football or the Food Channel and experimenting with make-up. When she’s not writing professionally she can be found blogging at www.sarafinasaid.com. E-mail: Swright@washingtoninformer.com Social Media Handles: Twitter: @dreamersexpress, Instagram: @Sarafinasaid, Snapchat: @Sarafinasaid

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