Statement by Stephanie Meeks, President and CEO, National Trust for Historic Preservation:
The hateful white supremacist rally in Charlottesville on August 11-12, 2017, reinvigorated a challenging national debate about what we should do about Confederate monuments in our public squares. The historic preservation community has been grappling with many of these difficult issues for some time now.
As such, we wanted to share some examples, resources, and tools to help communities broach the difficult and necessary conversations surrounding the future of these monuments, and move forward in an informed and inclusive way that does justice to both the past and the needs and concerns of today.
Our position statement on Confederate memorials, which we updated this summer in light of an earlier pro-discrimination rally in Charlottesville, is available here. As it says, while we always want to engage with rather than obscure the past, we also recognize that many of these memorials were intended as, and are clearly still being taken to represent, symbols of white supremacy, and that public monuments in public spaces, and maintained with public money, should represent our public values.
Our understanding of our own history has been distorted in too many minds by silence and deliberate misinterpretation.
Given these facts, many communities are right to insist that these monuments are unjust, intolerant, and undemocratic. At the same time, that some Americans seem not to understand why and how these monuments are offensive to so many illustrates the real problem at hand. Our understanding of our own history has been distorted in too many minds by silence and deliberate misinterpretation.
That is why, now more than ever, the task of historic preservation is to tell the full American story in an inclusive way, and see that our historic places recognize the experiences and embrace the contributions of all our diverse citizens. Read more.