Sites of Memory Project: Learning About History with Monuments

Sites of Memory Project: Learning About History with Monuments
and Memorials
There are thousands of monuments and memorials all across the United
States. Each one tells a specific narrative about what is important to
remember and provides us with an opportunity to celebrate and
memorialize the past.
Who is worthy of being memorialized? Which people, which groups,
whose story should be told? How historically accurate are the
monuments? Do they tell the whole story?
There is often significant debate regarding what story about the past a
monument should tell or even whether a monument should exist at all?
Two good examples to demonstrate these controversies are the FDR
Memorial in Washington, D.C. and the Arthur Ashe monument in
Richmond, Virginia. What is the controversy?
FDR (wheelchair, smoking a cigarette)
Ashe (an African American legend among Confederate generals)
What is a Monument? Something which stands, or remains, to keep in
remembrance what is past; a building, pillar, stone, etc. erected to preserve the
remembrance of a person, event or action.
What is a Memorial? Anything intended to preserve the memory of a person or
event; something that serves to keep something else in remembrance. This may
include objects of a temporary nature, such as candles or flowers left at a site.
Monuments and memorials are often perceived as truthful and
authentic. However, through research, students are provided with an
opportunity to explore how monuments present a subjective and
selective past. This is not to say that their history is inaccurate or not
useful. However, students must learn that all history is a recreation of
past events and people and is laced with subjectivity, interpretation, and
hypotheses. Monuments are themselves historical sources that need to
be critically analyzed and evaluated. They present history without
supporting documents and research (footnotes, bibliographies, etc.).
Thus, we must encourage students to see the value in learning from
monuments and challenge them to confront the objectivity of the
Assignment: (select one of the following 3 choices)
1. From the list of Civil Rights events, use online resources and find
two monuments or memorials that commemorate Civil
Rights leaders or events. Use the handout provided to analyze
and research the monuments. Put your research in a power point
presentation along with photographs of the sites. Then write a
two- page paper identifying the accuracies/inaccuracies and
controversies of the monuments. Include a bibliography to cite
your sources.
2. From the list of Civil Rights events, create your own memorial or
monument. This should include the following:
the location for the monument
the text that would appear on the monument
the design of the monument
a dedication speech to be read at the presentation of the
monument (highlighting the person or event)
e. a song that would accompany the ceremony (there are many
songs from the Civil Rights Movement that would be great to
use. Print out the words to the song)
People and Events:
1. Brown v. Board of Education (Topeka, Kansas) 1955
2. Rose Parks / Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott 1954-1956
3. Emmett Till is murdered (Money, Mississippi) 1955
4. Integration of Central High School (Little Rock, Arkansas) 1957
5. Woolworth lunch counter sit-in (Greensboro, North Carolina) 1960
6. Freedom Riders (James Peck, one of six whites and seven blacks left Washington,
D.C. heading for Birmingham, Alabama and Jackson, Mississippi) 1961
7. Integration of the University of Mississippi/ James Meredith (Oxford, Ms.) 1962
8. Martin Luther King, Jr. arrested in Birmingham, Alabama (April 12, 1963). King
writes his open letter from the jail cell
9. African American Children’s Crusade (Birmingham, Alabama) May 2 and 3, 1963
10. Murder of Medgar Evers (NAACP leader) Jackson, Mississippi 1963
11. March on Washington, D.C. (250,000 people) Aug, 28, 1963. King delivers his
“I Have a Dream” speech
12. Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing, Birmingham, Alabama (1963) Four
African American girls killed
13. Freedom Summer Project (murder of three Civil Rights workers: Michael
Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney) Philadelphia, Mississippi 1964
14. Fannie Lou Hamer speaks at the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
Convention June 1964)
15. Selma to Montgomery, Alabama voting rights march (50 mile walk) AKA Bloody
Sunday, March, 1965
16. Watts Riot, Los Angeles, California August 1965
17. Malcolm X’s assassination, Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom, Feb. 21, 1965
18. Stokely Carmichael, leader of SNCC, arrested in Greenwood, Mississippi, June 17,
1966. Gave his famous “Black Power” speech
19. Huey Newton and Bobby Seale form the Black Panther Party, Oakland, California,
Oct. 1966.
20. Martin Luther King’s speech “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the
Lord” April 3, 1968 (Memphis, Tennessee)
21. Martin Luther King’s assassination (Lorraine Hotel, Memphis, Tennessee) April
4, 1968
22. Arthur Ashe (first African American to win a Grand Slam tennis title)
23. Martin Luther King Monument in Washington, D.C. (all kinds of controversies!)
3. Visit a historical site of memory within your community, state, or
surrounding state. You must visit a particular site that commemorates our
U.S. heritage. You can work with a partner if you visit a site outside of the
county. Only two people are allowed to choose the same location. Sign up
with teacher. Below is a list of possible sites of memory for you to visit:
Curtin Village/Eagle Iron works
Old Main (land grant frescos—Henry Varnam Poor)
Boalsburg Military Museum
Boalsburg Memorial Day Statue (Honors To The Fallen)
Boal Mansion Museum and Columbus Chapel
Centre Furnace Mansion
Fort Roberdeau Historical Site
Portage Railroad
Horseshoe Curve
Altoona Railroad Memorial Museum
Vietnam Memorial: The Wall That Heals (29707 Pleasant Valley Blvd. Altoona)
Johnstown Flood Museum
Flight 93 Memorial (this is a really good one)
Gettysburg battlefield (take a specific part of the battlefield like Little Round Top)
National Cemetery at Gettysburg
Antietam (take a specific part of the battlefield like Bloody Lane)
Harper’s Ferry (West Virginia)
National Civil War Museum (Harrisburg)
Freedom Tower (NYC)
If you would like to travel to Washington, D.C. for this project, I suggest the following
African American Civil War Memorial
World War Two Memorial
FDR Memorial
Korean War Memorial
Vietnam War Memorial
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
I A. Why did you select this particular site to visit?
I B. Write down your expectations for the visit (what do you want to discover, learn
about or see at the site):
I C. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you find out if the site is open PRIOR to your visit.
You can go online to check the hours of operation for most sites.
II. Take photographs of the site. Be sure and document your visit to the site.
III. Record some facts that you have learned from the site:
It is very important to look closely at any plaques or writing that is at the site.
IV. Examine the questions provided while visiting the site and upon your return. Do
Some research on the site to help you answer the questions. (see attached sheet
of questions)
V. Explain why you think that this site is important? What or Who is being honored
VI. Note any unusual observations about the site.
IX. Now it is time for you to do some in depth research on your particular site you
chose to visit. Look closely at sources that give details about the person, place or
event that is being honored. You should prepare a minimum TWO PAGE, TYPED
PAPER recording your research. Include an analysis of how well the site
interpreted this history. Look closely for things that you found out that were not
mentioned at the site.
Be sure to incorporate the answers to the questions given in this assignment in your
Remember you are looking to uncover the whole story of this person, place or event.
You must include a BIBLIOGRAPHY with your paper (MLA format).
X. Who or What is left out of the story at this site of memory? What changes need to
be made to the site to incorporate the whole story?
XI. Develop a tour guide power point, iMovie, Animoto video or Podcast for the site
that you visited. You should think of this as a virtual tour of the site. Information to
be included:
a. site location and photographs
b. who runs or maintains the site? Who is the intended audience for the site?
c. background information about the site topic and its relevance
d. how is the site used today? do local events/celebrations continue to bring people
to it?
d. facts presented at the site (who or what is being honored)
e. missing or incomplete information regarding the site (the untold story)
example: the White House steps were build by slaves.
Please upload your final product to scoodle and turn in the paper portion of
the project in hard copy to me.