New Project to Assess City Monuments

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

In response to elevated pressure over several monuments across the City of Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot in conjunction with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Chicago Pak District (Parks), and Chicago Public Schools (CPS), announced a new project designed to assess the memorials, monuments, and other public art across the city.

“This project represents the first step in a deliberative and long-needed process by which we as a city can assess the many monuments and memorials across our neighborhoods and communities,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “This effort is not just about a single statue or mural, but how we create a platform to channel our city’s dynamic civic energy to purposefully reflect our values as Chicagoans and uplift the stories of our city’s residents, particularly when it comes to the permanent memorialization of our history and shared heritage.” 

As the city grapples through racial tension, the project will provide a liaison to address “the hard truths of Chicago’s racial history, confront the ways in which that history has and has not been memorialized, and develop a framework for marking public space that elevates new ways to memorialize Chicago’s true and complete history.” The project will have four main objectives, including:  

• Cataloguing monuments and public art on City or sister agency property; 

• Appointing an advisory committee to determine which pieces warrant attention or action; 

• Making recommendations on any new monuments or public art that could be commissioned; and  

• Creating a platform for the public to engage in a civic dialogue about Chicago’s history.  

“We appreciate the opportunity to move forward with this critically important process, to revisit and evaluate the City’s public art collection – a defining characteristic of Chicago – and to commission new monuments that equitably acknowledge Chicago’s shared history,” said DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly. 

“This city-wide collaboration is necessary to reckon with the injustices of false histories and incomplete narratives, locally, nationally and internationally. It is a chance to engage in sustained public dialogue and work with Chicago’s brilliant creative communities —not to just re-imagine new ways to memorialize the ‘dead’ mythical past— but also to embrace the living present as we chart our collective future,” said Jane Addams Hull-House Museum Director Jennifer Scott. 

Using feedback collected through the upcoming public art and engagement efforts, the City, along with various stakeholder groups, will create a plan to erect a series of new monuments that equitably acknowledge Chicago’s shared history. The project aims to have a final set of recommendations for addressing existing and new memorials and monuments by the end of 2020.

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