Skip to main content

tv   Controversial Monuments of the American West  CSPAN  January 13, 2019 10:30pm-12:01am EST

10:30 pm
controversial monuments in the west. plaques thate honor u.s. military leaders who massacred indians and at monuments to pioneers, and early settlers who colonized the west. they explore similarities and differences between monuments in the south and west. this talk is a part of the annual meeting. it is about 90 minutes. >> i am the author of a book called the legacy of conquest. the working title was the burden of western history. that tells you something about the relationship that i found myself in, the southern history. i hope that would see more of it in western history. i was frequently saying i was hoping to do something comparable to what mr. woodward had done to connect the past and present.
10:31 pm
dreamed of a reeling gauge between southern history and at western history. it irritated me that children played cowboys and indians in a lighthearted manner, they do not play masters and slaves. the seriousness of western history would be seen in a comparative perspective. that really mattered to me. i think regional comparisons here are huge to a degree. i have been ok with the fact that national attention has been on the south at confederate memorials and less for us. to figure out how we will perform better than handling our heritage. it may help, it may be more of a burden that our heritage is so complicated, and we talk about monuments and memorials we can't get to memorials of soldiers if
10:32 pm
we want to speak about that. there's so much complexity to the heritage. and also images and memorials to the monuments that have little to do with soldiers in battle or missionaries was pioneer women. i will make my one comment on bronze, there are several ways in which that is used. one is the ancient world, the other bronze age was the early 20th century or late 19th century. most of those statues, a good amount of them are not in the era of the south or the mid-19th century. they really came to being later. thereby enshrined the racial troubles of a much more recent era like 19th and 20th century. what is seldom is observed,
10:33 pm
bronze does not hold up well in the atmosphere. it turns out it gets streaks. that is kind of cool, i will say, when you see the reverence that goes into some of the statues and think they have to be scrubbed every year. that strikes me as funny. the humor session was yesterday, moving on. i am really delighted to have these folks here. i think we will not only explore the similarities and differences in the heritage of the south, complicated heritages. i also think we will have some interesting things to play in -- contemplate in the differences, culture, civic altar, and regional mood between those two regions. i think we will find those two units can feel a great deal of complexity. those are my opening remarks. i think i will introduce the panelists.
10:34 pm
as we have covered up here, alphabetical order is the only thing that brings order to my disorderly life. agreement that it is far better for these introductions to be short so you can hear more time hearing the people, rather than hearing me speak about them. albert broussard is a professor of history at texas a&m. he is the author of a number of important and influential books. he has participated in two textbook projects. and he wrote a book, expectations of equality, a history of black westerners. he now has a wonderful project rightswestern severcivil movement. our second speaker, and let's say your remarks about your
10:35 pm
personal experiences where intense. thank you. neil foley is the codirector of the climate center at southern methodist university. he is the author of the white equality, andfor mexicans in the making. teaching mexican-american history. nobody has ever seen me do introductions with such efficiency. other people have been in the opposite situation. will she ever stop introducing people? bar later i might say more. margaret jacobs is the professor of history at the university of nebraska at lincoln.
10:36 pm
she is the author of a generation removed. and it white mother to a dark race. and the removal of indigenous children in the west. and also engendered encountered, feminism in pueblo cultures. and the chancellor. the leadership professor of history at the university of california davis. he is the author of battle lines, a graphic history of the civil war, as well as a miss placed massacre, a river in its city, the latest -- the nature of landscape in new orleans. cindy prescott is the associate professor of history. there is a chancellor waiting out there to get going.
10:37 pm
you are doing fine. she is an associate professor of history at the university of north dakota. she is the author of gender and generation on the far western frontier. and has a project that will be out next year, a book that will be out next year, pioneer mother monuments, constructing cultural memory. we will begin, albert. >> can everyone hear me? good afternoon and thank you for coming. thank you for inviting me. i had a much longer presentation, but i'm going to have to shorten it. monuments in the west honoring reflect in my view, social justice civil rights, selfless service, bravery, patriotism, and the role of african-americans as pioneers in that region.
10:38 pm
blacks and whites were equally responsible for the broad public relations campaign to gain public acceptance of these monuments. unlike a confederate leaders or white supremacist politicians normalized more in the modern jim crow era, which looks backward to some golden age, monuments that recognize african-americans look forward to the future. blacks and whites, i may add, share the cost of erecting these monuments. one of the most interesting areas in our region of the nation are postage stamps. i don't have time to talk about that today. i'm going to talk about two people. we will start with dorie miller. dorie miller was born in 1919. he enrolled in the united states navy in 1939, primarily because he grew up on a poor farm family. this is a way for him to relieve
10:39 pm
the family of that burden. he served as one of the few opportunities for positions for african americans at that time in the navy. he served on the uss west virginia. at the time of the japanese attack on pearl harbor, many of you know the story, he left his post when the attack was underway. without any training he manned a 50 caliber browning antiaircraft machine gun until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship. he also carried his white captain, who was injured, to safety. miller had no training, as i pointed out. for many years the myth was perpetrated that he actually shot down a number of airplanes. he did not. this was still viewed as a heroic act. miller had been an outstanding football player in high school. he was also the heavyweight
10:40 pm
boxing champion. he was a big man. the commander in chief on the pacific fleet presented the cross to miller. he said he wanted to do it himself, which was unusual. this is the third highest honor awarded by the navy. particulare this episode as a recruiting tool. this is the poster that was issued. this was the recruiting tool they used. miller served, if you don't know the rest of the story, served in the pacific theater until 1943, when a torpedo struck his ship from a japanese submarine. the american warship sank and one of the heroes of pearl more than theng 600 fatalities. in 1973 the united states navy
10:41 pm
commissioned the uss miller. also a bronze commemorative plaque of miller located on the family park at the u.s. naval base pearl harbor. the united states post office recognized miller in 2010 by issuing a stamp in his honor to pay tribute to what they called distinguished american sailors. under president obama, two texas legislatures introduced legislation to rename the medical center after dorie miller and president obama signed legislation in 2015. on december 7, 2017, the city of waco unveiled a nine foot bronze statue.
10:42 pm
there it is, honoring miller. private donations to the city as foundation rappaport contributed to the expenses. the former u.s. ambassador to sweden, a lifelong native gave the keynote address at this particular time. it was celebrated by blacks and whites alike. it was not the contentious and divisive issues that southern monuments represent. rather it was upbeat, uplifting, patriotic. the recognition also helped to heal in a small way the shameful racial past. when it lynched jesse washington, a 17-year-old african-american farmworker who allegedly raped a white woman. to place anysed kind of remembrance for this horrid event, which they view as divisive rather than uplifting.
10:43 pm
the second statue is of barbara jordan. they are located at the austin international airport and on the ut campus. this is one of four statues honoring african-americans on the ut campus. it represents the triumph of white and black people from austin to come together and celebrate and honor the life of a great texas woman. barbara jordan was a native of houston. in the texast state senate in 1997, first elected to that body since 1883. she ran successfully in 1973 for the 18th district, become the first woman from a southern state to serve in the u.s. congress. we know she led a distinguished career in that body, best known as a member of the house judiciary committee during the 1974 watergate hearings, which investigated the illegal conduct of richard nixon.
10:44 pm
in the fall of a ut student 2002, group called the orange jackets began a discussion with a number of student organizations on that campus to recognize an outstanding woman. in a their view the campus lakhs statues of female role models. the orange jackets were established in 1923. they are the ut's oldest women's honorary organization. they serve both ut campus and the greater austin community. during these discussions barbara jordan's name emerged and orange jackets submitted jordan for consideration. in august, 2003, the ut board gave final approval just one year after this process began. i think that is truly remarkable. the newly formed barbara jordan advisory committee started a tedious process of soliciting sculptures to place on and
10:45 pm
around the statue. the only controversy i could locate when i read the project material at the center this past summer was whether or not the committee should include any mention of jordan's sexual orientation. they did not. a number of people said barbara jordan was a private person, so this ought to be left out. a large group of ut students, staff, faculty and community members celebrated the unveiling the barbara jordan statue. let me share with you some other pictures of that. this is the invitation, one is the invitation of the ceremony and the other is the picture itself. the official invitation downplayed jordan's race but stretched her gender. it said, we hope you will join us as we celebrate the unveiling of the first statue of a prominent female figure, so honored in the 125 year history of the university.
10:46 pm
in conclusion i would like to say memorials to african american westerners sparked little controversy. quite the contrary, they supported and embraced the community. two subjects under discussion, statues represented the values and the principles not only of the community but also the u.s. constitution, pride in one's country, selfless service, sacrifice and patriotism. monuments look to the future, and they represented optimism. america's promise was unfulfilled, but the future was bright. monuments to african americans were designed with the idea to unify the community and assad they sought input from all states of the community, unlike monuments for confederate statues, where the african-american community was never consulted.
10:47 pm
mitch landrieu, former mayor of new orleans, expressed my view as well as anyone, when you analyze the meaning of the confederate statues and monuments in his city, he says the statues were not honoring history or heroes, they were created as political weapons, part of an effort to hide the truth, which is that the confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity. they helped restore the myth of southern chivalry to detract from the terror attack that the deprived african-americans of fundamental rights. for those of you not aware, mitch landrieu removed statues of jefferson davis, and a monument honoring the militant white supremacist terrorist organization. finally, these monuments recognized african americans that whites perceived as nonthreatening. they did not upset the status quo. thank you very much.
10:48 pm
>> i'm trying to find my own powerpoint on this. there it is. can you all hear me? yes. ok so patty has given us eight minutes. i'm going to read what i have because i cut it down to eight minutes and i don't want to go over. thank you for letting me use your ipad. we can't do both on the same computer without an i.t. specialist. your twitter read messages that keep popping up on the screen. >> full disclosure, neil was one of the ones pushing me. >> i said 10 minutes and she
10:49 pm
sent back eight minutes. let me begin with a quotes. sorry if i butchered that french name. the book was written over two decades ago with this admonishment. we now know narratives are made of silences, not all of which are deliberate or even perceptible. we may want to keep in mind while some of us debate what history is or was, others take it in their own hands. so white nationalists insightful took history in their own hands when they took down a statue of robert lee. chanting you will not replace us and white lives matter. the dedication of hundreds of statues in the south from 1892 to world war i and the naming of schools after confederate generals from the 1920's to the 1950's represented a two-pronged effort that began in the south. first, you minimize the centrality of slavery of why
10:50 pm
america went to war against the nation. and to reaffirm the supremacy of the white race through the enforcement of jim crow segregation. in the western front new mexico and california grapple with their own version of confederate tributes, namely celebrations of spanish conquests and missionaries. controversies over the messaging of these have received less media attention nationally. although native peoples have much appreciation for the statues as african-americans for confederate generals. i will mention four these controversies before turning to a nearby texas site. a monument depicts a vanquished indian lying at the feet of a settlor and a catholic priest. the catholic priest looks like a cross between the ghost of christmas past and a dementor. not surprisingly, many native
10:51 pm
american groups of view the stature as a reminder of course conversion. pit river tribal member called the sculpture a monument to genocide and scoffed that its removal would show disrespect for history. this is a slide of a santa barbara mission that native american activists decapitated a statue of some and who was canonized as a saint by pope francis for his efforts to christianize california indians. these natives say he should be the saint of genocide. in new mexico, during the festival of santa fe, held each year since 1911, hispanic residents dress as conquistadors to celebrate the reconquest of new mexico, which took place 12
10:52 pm
years after the pueblo revolt of 1680. that drove out the spanish colonizers. it's a reminder of forced religious conversion and the violence against resistance to spanish rule. last year the city council voted to end the reenactment. and a tribal member in northern new mexico said activist groups have been emboldened by the removal of confederate monuments across the united states. in 1598, a spanish conquistador ordered the feet of someone be amputated after a long and bloody siege. natives in northern mexico returned the favor by sawing off his right foot. the native commandos left a statement. we took the liberty of removing
10:53 pm
the right foot on behalf of our brothers and sisters. we see no glory in celebrating his centennial and we don't want our faces rubbed in it. perhaps most guilty of historical silence is located just a few blocks from us. the alamo originally established in 1720. the history of those native people in the late 19th century, about the same time white southerners began their fielding craze. a native counsel founds more than a thousand native americans are buried in the ground adjacent to the alamo. but the narrative does not include native people, despite the fact that according to the 2010 census, san antonio was the city with the 10th largest
10:54 pm
population of native americans. ofy also silence the history texas mexicans. including those who died in the alamo to defend the federalist constitution of 1824. they renamed the mission into the shrine of martyrdom. the alamo narrative also completely erases the role of slavery in the struggle for independence for mexico, which had banned the slavery. it even silences the voice of stephen f austin, who wrote in 1833, i now have changed my views. texas must be a slave country. for years anglo settlers had crossed the border between louisiana and mexican texas without documents. i guess the alamo is a shrine to illegal aliens.
10:55 pm
25 years later, texas voted to secede from the union in 1861 to preserve slavery. to secede from the federal union demanded the protection of the patriarchal system of african slavery and the servitude of africans to the white race. the fears and anxieties of the south and west intensify in the closing decades of the 19th century as the first two decades of the 20th over threats to white supremacy and to white women. it is incident that the film's birth of the nation and martyrs of the alamo, both released in 1915, portray african-americans and ethnic mexicans as rapist of white women. the eruption of white male nationalism in texas in the south was as much about the
10:56 pm
threat to masculinity as it was a racial power and privilege. today's whites are less than 50% of the total population. latinos are 40%. latinos represent 52% of all public school students in the state. demography may not be destiny, but it matters what monuments and memorials are being celebrated, by whom, where and for what. for over a century the university of texas in austin, and i speak from experience when i was there, used to hold an official celebration on march 2 of texas independence, until the practice was abandoned in the 1990's, when a growing number of latino and african american students protested against the celebration of the slave republic that demonized mexicans as well as blacks. in conclusion, historians of the south and west provide communities having to reassess their regional heritages and narratives of the past that these moneymen serve as reminders. i don't have a clue. i really don't.
10:57 pm
maybe patty does. i do know if communities want to build bridges instead of moats, they need consensus, first on values and ideas on what they want their communities to represent. and to consider whether those monuments embody those values and ideals that they wish to pass on to their children. thanks. [applause] >> good afternoon, everybody, can you hear me? neal has kindly agreed to be my sort of slide expert. there it goes. in my brief talk, i'm going to
10:58 pm
compared two recent efforts to memorialize our complex history, the national memorial for peace and justice in alabama, and an aborted art installation called scaffolds, which is about capital punishment. it included the memorialization dakota men who were hanged in minnesota. i feel like a star. the national memorial for peace and justice opened to much acclaim on april 26, 2000 18. one mile from a still standing at jefferson davis monument in alabama. this was founded by brian robertson and his equal justice initiative and the new memorial is built on a six acre site overlooking montgomery.
10:59 pm
this memorial bears witness to more than 4400 african american men, women and children who were hanged, shot, drowned, and beaten to death by white mobs between 1877-1950. the eji characterizes the memorial is a sacred space for truth telling and reflection about racial terror in america and its legacy. of course, there were some rumblings of discontent, at least from the white locals. it is going to cause an uproar and open old wounds said local one. residents feel it is a waste of money, a waste of space, and it is bringing up bull. in general, if you follow the coverage of this nationally there was great public support for this project and interest. prof. jacobs: it was overwhelmingly positive reaction
11:00 pm
to it. next one. so this is scaffold. scaffold was to be unveiled in may 2017 at the reopening of the sculpture garden at the walker art museum in minneapolis. it was one of 16 new works being added to the garden as part of a $33 million restoration and expansion project. it's made of wood and steel. dir. hayes: -- prof. jacobs: it's meant to represent seven historical gallows that were used in eight sanctioned executions by lynching or hanging between 1859 and it was made of wood and steel and meant to represent seven historical gallows used in state-sanctioned executions by hanging. these included the abolitionist john brown, the lincoln conspirators, the haymarket martyrs, and the 30 dakota men in mankato. the sculpture was the creation of sam durrant, who explains, i
11:01 pm
made "scaffold" as a learning element for me. whites with the concept of race and have used it to maintain whites created the concept of race and have used it to maintain dominance for race. whites must be involved in its dismantling. that is his quote, not mine. the next one. and museum's director was shocked when local dakota people began gathering outside the museum and remained all weekend to protest the new sculpture. it's really traumatizing for our people to look at that and have it just appear without any warning they were doing this and it is not art to us, a dakota protester, sasha houston brown told the minnesota star tribune. , in response the artist and the museum director expressed regret
11:02 pm
that they had not reached out to the dakotas. they agreed to a mediated cityng with representatives, a council of dakota elders, and at the meeting they came up with a plan , to ceremoniously dismantle the structure, led by leaders and elders. my paper is really what accounts for this very different perception of these two memorials. was onebvious answer was a black-lead project and the other was a white-initiated project about indian suffering. and this controversy came on the heels of the upper over the ofnting "open casket," emmett till.
11:03 pm
the african-american artist and rider had written an open letter -- writer had written an open letter to the curators, admonishing the artist pretreating black pain as raw material. but there may be some deeper reasons for why one of these memorials has drawn accolades on and the other scorn. next one. keep it there. last one. first, this is just scratching below the surface of little bit. there is the collaboration element versus an individual art project. the national memorial for peace and justice was a long-term-coordinated effort that involves multiple artists, but sam durrant made "scaffold" without consulting any dakota people. and this particularly incensed them. a dakota public historian and museum professional put it "they can speak with us and not about us." going to another level, too,
11:04 pm
there is the context for this. note that the national memorial for peace and justice was to careful to create a sacred space. you can see that in this photograph. at the sculpture garden of the walker museum curators placed , "scaffold" between this sculpture of a giant cherry and another of a big blue rooster. next one. another issue was the focus. the national memorial for peace and justice focused on a particular abuse. itss specific victims -- specific victims and long-term impact. "scaffold" used the dakota 38 to make a larger point about capital punishment. the monument does not really 's pain orhe dakota their experience with
11:05 pm
colonialism. the memorial represents the names all the lynching victims in its inner sanctum. "scaffold" has no representation s of the dakota men who were hanged, nor did it include the ir names, and protesters, in fact, displayed signs with the names of the 38 men who were hanged. another point of comparison would also be the narratives that each of these memorials creates. the national memorial for peace and justice has a clear narrative about the historical links between enslavement, lynching, and mass incarceration. scaffold" is a my melange of examples without historical context. there are lots of other examples. i would invite all of your interpretations. the controversy over "scaffold"
11:06 pm
suggests that as we strive to create new memorials of the west, that we need to be as attentive to the process as the product. and this is of course something that i think ari is going to talk on little bit about or has talked about in his book on sand creek. [laughter] prof. jacobs: hannah black rights that discussions of -- writes that discussions of appropriation and representation go to the heart of the question of how we seek to live in a reparative mode with humor, clarity, and hope. thank you. [applause] >> good afternoon. woah. good afternoon. is that better? woah, that's very loud. it's just very loud all of a sudden. i do not like to be that loud. good afternoon. thank you all very much for being here. thanks, patty, for inviting me to be part of this panel. it really is an honor to be up
11:07 pm
here with several of my favorite historians in the profession. i was on a panel this morning . i just realized, with a number of people, and i did not say that of them. please do not read into it if you are in the room. exactly. [laughter] prof. kelman: it would be better if i could just be silenced. how are you doing? >> i am just trying to get the slides. prof. kelman: you don't have to do that. just hit play. do you see that? it's doing what it is supposed to do. on july 4, 1909, the pioneers association, which is a heritage organization, which celebrated colorado's settler past, participated in what was, at that time, a national commemorative project. the pioneers association unveiled the civil war memorial on the colorado state capitol steps. veterans of the civil war around the united states were nearing
11:08 pm
the end of their lives at the time. archives werece, information publishing regimental histories , and cities including denver were including monuments intended to shape our future generations would remember the civil war. >> i can't get it to play. prof. kelman: press forward. i think if you press play in the forward it should work. , if it doesn't, it's ok. no, no, the first slide is like. >> oh, it is. prof. kelman: yes. just -- [laughter] prof. kelman: you've got to go back. keep going back. more, more, more. there you go. up and now forward. enough. all right. beautiful. >> can we just have a round of applause. [applause] >> it's good. prof. kelman: the black slide
11:09 pm
was intended to convey a silence, which is often how we memorialize things. [laughter] prof. kelman: as david blake, kerry janie, and other scholars have argued, this upsurge of memorialization around the united states embodied what we now look back on and recognize as a reconciliation as to impulse. memorializers constructed an historic narrative. this was a story on which union and confederate soldiers have bravely. it lent aid and comfort to the lost cause over time. it changed to the right to shape emerging american empire in the trans-mississippi west. all could be swept aside in service of an amicable reunion between north and south. so the marker you are seeing
11:10 pm
the first related to state's early history and then boasted of colorado citizens' patriotism. it reported that nearly 4000 coloradans had volunteered to serve the union in the civil war. this was "the highest average, of any state or territory, and with no draft or bounty." and it then went on to list and columns -- [beep] the battles that they fought, including at the bottom right, a bloodletting that we now call the sand creek massacre. [beep] [laughter] at'the dedication of colorados's civil war memorial, -- at the dedication of colorado's civil war memorial, they stitched together national unity and national pride. they try to integrate visions of empire in liberty. thousands of people gathered that day to celebrate the heroic colorado volunteers who serve
11:11 pm
the union, and at sand creek helped the nation to realize its , manifest destiny. now, i am going to flashforward about 90 years to 1998, when a colorado state senator tired of walking by the memorial and it seems to martinez that sand creek, which he described as "a horrible massacre" had no place on this list of battles and engagements. after all, martinez believed the massacre "had nothing to do with the civil war." a conflict which ended the institution of slavery. sand creek's inclusion on the memorial, martinez reason, insulted the tragedy's native victims, diminished the sacrifice of: robin -- coloradan soldiers who fought and died in the civil war. his colleagues agreed with him and the legislature decided it
11:12 pm
would hire a metalworker to remove the plaque, grind off the words sand creek, burnish the 31 original battles and engagements and reattach the , nameplate. you could get rid of the horrors of the past for just it turned $1000, out. but david hollis, colorado's chief historian at the time heard about this plan. , he thought it was, in his words, "well-intentioned, but lousy." he worked with cheyenne representatives on other efforts, including preserving the massacre as a national historic site. the contacted some of these representatives, and they agreed with him. this is the brady now, saying, "there were many indian massacres during the civil war. although white people want to forget those stories." crystallized.m tom noel, a local historian , argued in the denver post that coloradans should grapple with their past, rather than try to
11:13 pm
forget it. he suggested that the civil war memorial should remain, and that "the story of sand creek needs to remain for public discussion and reflection." then, some of sand creek's latter-day defenders, including members of a national heritage organization, known as the order of the indian wars, agreed with tom noel the plaque should be left alone entirely. a man named mike corey said "taking sand creek off of the , statue is not going to make it disappear. you gain nothing by hiding it under a blanket." unlike noel, he advocated not out of respect for the complexity of ever-shifting collective memories, but that he thought "politically correct meddling would dishonor the memory of those who fought in the civil war." 31, they testified and offered lawmakers
11:14 pm
a compromise. they would provide the memorial visitors with context, informing the public about the massacre through historical markers. within a few months the , legislature decided to adopt this suggestion. four years of committee meetings and public outreach passed before the new interpretive text was finally ready. for years to write a few hundred words which is better than i am , doing on my book at the moment. [laughter] prof. kelman: on senator november 26, 2004, martinez stood next to his civil war memorial that i have shown you. arapahoe and cheyenne singers -- performed a song. martinez unveiled a plaque that had been enshrouded in grass. the marker noted the controversies surrounding the ofument has been a symbol our struggle to take responsibility for our past. the plaque went on to recount the particulars of what happened at san creek before turning to the contested nature public memory. "though some civilians and military personnel immediately
11:15 pm
denounced the attack as a messenger others think the , cheyenne and arapahoe were a legitimate target." the civil war memorial sponsors had "mischaracterized the events when they designated sand creek a battle." the plaque completed by pointing to "widespread recognition of the tragedy as the sand creek massacre." in the decade and a half or so since the state of colorado rededicated the memorial, hundreds of thousands of people have visited the capitol steps in denver. it is not clear how many have noticed the plaque. certainly some of them had. hundreds of thousands of additional people have traveled to the southeastern part of the state, where they have climbed a small rise overlooking the sand creek killing field that is located in the historic site. now most americans, prompted by , popular culture and public memory, still recall the civil war only as a war of
11:16 pm
emancipation, as a good war but , i will end on an uncharacteristically upbeat note. it may be possible that the complex monuments and memorials, that the civil war may also be remembered as a war of empire. it is possible that visitors to colorado's state capital can learn the nation's history is shot through with these kinds of painful ironies and the act of memorialize asian, contingent, contested, -- memorialize ation, contingent, contested is sometimes fraught , with unexpected lessons. thank you. [applause] >> i will stop frantically taking notes on my colleagues comments and prepare my mind to speak to you myself. as neal tries to find my file all, so i am going to be asking our pioneer today, monuments racist, which is really understanding a lot of the things my colleagues are talking about as well.
11:17 pm
give me a sec. found it. are they racist? and i am going to argue that the earliest pioneer monuments, which were erected beginning in the 1880's and 1890's, the same time that confederate monuments are going up in increasing numbers in the south, really were really about enshrining enshriningere about white civilization or white supremacy. can you go to the next slide, neil? so you have white strongmen towering over their indian guides, as in this one in iowa. -- the state in des moines, iowa. and then san francisco's pioneer monument from the 1890's which has minerva, the goddess , of war, embodying the regatta, the spirit -- embodying eureka, the spirit of california atop a , pillar honoring many men who achieved to the conquest of california, leading from indian
11:18 pm
savagery through spanish fantasy past mexican romance to white anglo civilization, including, as we saw already this session, the statue that -- as you are telling us -- was protested, right? in the 1990's? and actually was removed last month from its pedestal to an undisclosed location. there were native activists who were there, held a ceremony, as the crews removed it. and the current plan, last i heard, is to leave the head is -- the pedestal on which it stands empty, and i look forward to the debate about what the text should say explaining why it is empty. so -- [laughter] prof. kelman: -- >> next slide,
11:19 pm
please. denver was putting up its civil war monument we just heard about, they also were putting up a pioneer monument. the artist placed prospectors, settlers, a pioneer mother, and the original plan was to put a plains indian warrior on rearing horse back at the top, but the people of denver freaked out, because you cannot have progress from savagery to civilization that goods from top to bottom. they read it from bottom to top this plains indian warrior as the conqueror of the whites and that was not acceptable, so they substituted indian fighter, for the plains indian that was supposed to be wandering off into defeat. , please. -- next one, please. in portland, oregon, we have
11:20 pm
sacagawea represented in the lewis and clark exhibition. we have put up i with elite whie suffragist as a project, and the plaque says it is in honor of the female guide of the lewis and clark expedition and the pioneer mother of oregon. this is the first of many pioneer mother statues. these feminists are arguing that sacagawea paved the way for white civilization. so these early statutes from the mid-1880's up until about the start of world war i around 1915 are looking for ways to demonstrates white civilization. right? and seeing it as a progression from savagery to civilization. around the time
11:21 pm
of world war i is toward -- away from showing pioneer men to showing pioneer women as an embodiment of white civilization. pioneer mothers always carrying civilization westward, but not quite ever arriving. thethey come to embody blessings of white civilization s arriving in the west. and thus become part of the settler/colonial project in claiming whites' place in the west. next slide. after world war ii, we see a shift away from what i call be of pioneer mother movement the 1920's and 1930's into an emphasis on nuclear families. the pioneer mother looks the same. you just add the father and the son, particularly with sons as a hope for the future, especially in the middle of cold war era
11:22 pm
anxiety and an emphasis on nuclear family relationships and pioneer families become the american family. they are representing a set of values that we can hold onto as the civil rights movement leads to generational conflict. we should look back to the 1950's or perhaps the 1850's as the ideal we should be looking towards, right? next slide. and then, amid a farm crisis in excuse me, the 1980's -- we have people in the plains looking back to the 1860's, and western cities really lost interest in pioneer monuments, but smaller towns on the planes become really interested in settler -- plains become really interested in settler persistence. no mention of the people who had been there before. we survived in an empty land. we will not talk about why it was empty. right? and then, next slide. very recently, as we have already heard, and i will touch on this briefly because others have already touched on it, we
11:23 pm
of the removal of statues. the conversations really started in the early 1990's when people started asking questions. right? there were debates in the early 1990's. san francisco's pioneer monument, including the portion of the larger monument which was mailed, all of two blocks, -- was moved, all of two blocks, to make room for a revamped civic center and at that point there was controversy about preservationists saying you cannot move something that is already there to activist saying -- activists saying this is racist, and we should tear it down. the compromise was to move the statue two blocks out of the way and put up an interpretive plaque. the plaque was allowed to become overgrown and nobody knew it was there until the confederate controversy starting in 2015, which brought renewed interest to these statues. and so conversations are
11:24 pm
, changing. so this one was removed in 2017. this was kalamazoo, michigan, fountain of the pioneers, which has a settler and it is hard to make out because it is very stylized, but that is an indian man in headdress. and a pioneer man towering over him. this was seen as problematic and removed. they left this empty pedestal behind. so these are the only two sites that i know of where the monuments that are labeled as pioneer monuments explicitly have been removed, but as my colleagues have pointed out, there is beginning to be debate around other kinds of monuments that clearly are about southern colonialism as well. that pioneer label, people have been less quick to recognize that it also carries the settler colonial implication. [applause]
11:25 pm
prof. precott: so, thanks to the people who exhorted me to make sure that we followed the time. you have been remarkable. this will set a new pattern for this profession. think, because we have not been so brilliant with the time control, but you have been great. as a tree, you have a chance to speak to each other, if there is something that anyone wanted to say to any of the presenters? among yourselves? it seems to me -- i will say myself it seems an unexpected aspect of this is the notion that the west might actually have some better traditions. not a lot of them, necessarily, but some traditions of honoring people we would want to honor and imagining a process that is actually -- your story of colorado that people had four years of meetings, that is quite inspirational that you would have that, but to come up with something that certainly was far
11:26 pm
better than what has been there. so i am not sure i want to say that the west is the native home of hope here, but it does seem that we have something we might be able to offer, and in fact that neil saying that he did not have a clue, we might have a conclusion. to all of myeact colleagues already a little bit, but i wanted to bring in a conversation that a few of us in this room had on wednesday. the roundtable on monuments and memorials. the question of why is and how western memorialization and southern memorialization different, which is what we're speaking to? we were having a more meta-discussion of what does that look like, what does that mean? that stood outgs is that southern history has gotten boiled down to this confederate narrative, one specific confederate narrative, a few specific generals we honor over and over again that are
11:27 pm
memorialized across the country, that western history is much more complex in terms of the ways it has been remembered and thought about. and more localized. intot wanted to bring that this conversation because i thought the presentations we had today really speak to that and demonstrate how varied these issues really are in the west, where we have so much ethnic diversity, so many different national and colonial history is intercepting and overlapping. >> i'm getting too cheerful up here because it seems to me that that empty pedestal don't build moat.bridge, build the [laughter] >> excuse me. don't build a moat, build the bridge. yes. so what a cool thing. and what happened in 2018, i don't think -- the notion that
11:28 pm
san francisco, it seems to be quite a creative community could , conjure something better in the process of discussion. i will say that my favorite suggestion in colorado has been chuck ponca, the editor of the denver post op-ed page, proposing for confederate memorials that there be -- that white flags be inserted in the hands as a provisional. while waiting for the next move. just a great mass production of white flags and selling those -- putting those in robert e lee's hand. it seems like there is some very positive notion in this locality and the range. it and imagine a world -- it has happened before, people could be engaged in community discussions on how to do that, and to some degree -- margaret wants to speak -- it does seem that a lot had to be left out in order to celebrate barbara jordan. ad that military veteran --
11:29 pm
lot had to be looked away from. well, you said that. so, margaret, did you want to -- margaret: a kind of interesting because i actually took away a very different person than you did. it mainly was from the two cases i was talking about, because my takeaway from just looking at those two cases was there was something more fraught about western history's -- new efforts to memorialize western history than new efforts to memorialize southern history. i don't know if that is true. but just based on those two cases, it just felt like there yield pain at -- unhealed pain and ongoing colonialism in the west. slavery is over. incarceration -- obviously the legacies of slavery are not over. incarceration is still a huge problem. social inequality is an enormous problem. social colonialism is still
11:30 pm
ongoing and it's not invisible. , i think the efforts to memorialize what is going on in western history at least around , indigenous peoples, seems very, very raw and very painful to me. i would not really agree. >> you showed us the cherry and the rooster. that was not a regional tradition to refrain tragedy with idiotic sculpture. that is not our way. that was a bit of weirdness there. i mean, you are too persuasive in presenting that context. thank you. >> having been uncharacteristically upbeat earlier i'm going to say -- not necessarily disagree with patty, but i think some of what we are observing in the west is that monuments to settler colonialism
11:31 pm
may not be challenged as aggressively as monuments in the south because settler colonialism was extraordinarily effective in getting rid of native peoples. and a place like minneapolis -- not entirely, but in a place like minneapolis where there is a large dakota community, you see dakotas coming out and saying this is totally acceptable. but in colorado, it takes the national park service beginning a process of memorializing sand creek for northern cheyennes to come back from northern cheyenne country and say we would like to be involved in this process of re-memorializing or reinterpreting the memorial on the state capital steps. urban indian community is significant and is no fatalistic reason to
11:32 pm
say this will not rise to the level of minneapolis. i think that underestimates the urban indian community in many western locales. >> right, the denver urban community is made up of many nations. each of the members of sovereign nations. i think it gets a little more complicated. whereas for reasons that are incredibly complex and historically contingent, the african-american community in the south understands that they have a shared experience of oppression in the form of slavery. recently, to work hard and together. i share your optimism but i think it could happen in the west as well. i just think the demographics are different and the politics around it are going to be more complicated. >> what came to mind, there is research on the ut campus.
11:33 pm
the statutes, to with them who were football players. it was the white student population. the black student population is too small on that campus. and in particular, there is a white student service organization. there had not been a statue of a woman on the university of texas campus. i do not know. they did not identify the person or persons. there was almost no controversy. not only did everything minutes of the organization, but the minutes of the board of supervisors. at least bullet points. i -- the only objection i found was whether or not there was some discussion to mention something about her sexuality. i did not show you all the images of the statue because if , you have been on the campus, it's really a beautiful statue.
11:34 pm
there are different points of the statue where you can read. there is signage, etc., so that was really the controversy. she is also buried in the austin state cemetery she is right next to stephen f. austin, which i find ironic there is one word on her tombstone, and that is "patriot." which i found to be quite, quite interesting. i think white students were the driving force. the other thing i wanted to say, unlike ut there has not been any , serious discussion about taking down the statues on texas a&m's campus, to my knowledge. yeah, i was there in the 1990's and up until six years ago. i watched the barbara jordan statue go up and the mlk statue and cesar chavez at the same time everyone was trying to get rid of resident wilson and
11:35 pm
jefferson davis who are right front and center at the tower. and i agree with you. it was a lot of white students. simply the fact of the matter is 50,000 students, and when i got there in the 1990's, 70% of them are white. incidentally today, it's a majority minority university. whites are 46% of the population at ut austin now. that explains part of it. there was a small contingent there were a little upset with barbara jordan for advocating the citizenship cards as part of her immigration reform. and they have pointed out, if we have to carry citizenship cards we will be racially profiled because they will not ask african-americans or white people if they're citizens, but dark people always be asked to prove they belong to the u.s. the other thing i wanted to say was that when i left -- the whole time i was there,
11:36 pm
african-americans had never risen above 4% of the population of ut austin, ever. students came to see me when i was associate dean there. african-american students. they asked me, in my office, if there was a master plan to keep african-americans from going above 4%. my response was i never thought of that. there might be one. i should investigate this. i did. i would put nothing past ut for maintaining a lid like that, but then they started to launch all these investigations into why it does not go above 4% and i will not going to that, but i wrote an article for a journal on the 50th anniversary of brown versus board. it was an essay. they wanted people to reflect on this. they were basically saying it was a pipeline issue.
11:37 pm
those controversies are certainly still ongoing at ut. could he say something about what you envisioned? fewer moats and more bridges processes and community deliberations. >> it depends on your point of view. first of all, the communities get together. they meet at the school auditorium. my daughters, all three of my to robert went e. lee elementary school. they graduated and they said, how come we never protested the name of the school? you grow up and you just get acclimated to all of these robert e. lee schools all over the south. i'm not from texas. i said, yeah, i don't know. it's really bad. two or three years later, they were deciding against that name. as many of you in this room
11:38 pm
know, because there are so many robert e. lee experiences some , of us stayed with the name. the one in hyde park -- the resistance to this was the teachers themselves. the teachers liked the name lee because it is one of those blue-ribbon schools, a high-performing school in hyde they would say, i teach at lee instead of one of the nonperforming schools in east austin. not everybody was happy with us. but it was a consensus. a majority. they will say it will be lee, but not robert e. lee. now it is still lee elementary. but it's russell lee. you don't know who russell lee is? come on, the photographer. spike lee. agency from the 1930's
11:39 pm
who went around taking pictures of poor people. nobody cares nobody knows about , him, but his papers are at the archives. the thing that really upset me about that as a father of three daughters who went through that, and i was already at smu at the time, there were two options. keep robert e. lee, go to russell lee and keep the name, or name the school after the first african-american woman teacher -- african-american teacher period who was actually still alive and taught all 3 of my daughters in second grade. and i thought that was the obvious choice, right? but they wanted to cling to lee. they did not like what robert e. lee represented. they just wanted the name. they could not give the name for this living african-american woman who would spent 35 or 40 years teaching at that school and retired.
11:40 pm
and i will just say very quickly, the same thing happened with stonewall jackson school just this year in dallas, just up the street from smu. they did the same thing. they had a community meeting. they yelled and screamed at each other. the teachers wanted to keep jackson, right, because it was a high-performing school and they liked saying that they taught a -- taught at jackson. the parents, a lot of them were faculty at smu and others, they rebelled and were able to get the dallas independent school district to rename the whole thing mockingbird elementary school because it's a mockingbird street, which is a big street in dallas that runs right through smu's campus. so different outcome. , the point is the community has to make those decisions. margaret thought members of the community would start calling it spike lee --
11:41 pm
[laughter] we do have time for some questions. yes? i think the person will bring the microphone to you. not that you are not capable of being heard. this is for the audience. they are dying to see this on c-span. >> anytime anyone has the microphone i feel if i am one of the supremes. stop in the name of love ♪ ♪ history,oming from our what i miss was some analysis of the sculptures themselves. for example why does the pioneer mother always look like a drudge? what is with the sun bonnett? you have to take a look at that and link that to the stories also, the analysis of the objects themselves.
11:42 pm
that is basically it. because that is a large part of what these sculptures convey. maybe in a longer version that is certainly part of it, but just as reminder a piece of art does deserve interpretation. >> absolutely. , my firsticipated response is in my longer work -- i will give one example of it. mother that ieer barely touched on her in my presentation. san francisco. the first that was labeled a pioneer mother and services go in 1915. darwinist social exposition which is about colonialism and all this stuff. the eastern artists of that was brought in to produce this
11:43 pm
bronze monument of the pioneer mother dressed or initially in a friends buckskin -- fringed buckskin gown and moccasins and people freaked out about that as well. because you can have, and i showed you a pioneer man, a white man can wear fringed buckskin in an that shows he is a ruddy, can wear french buck said in an that shows he is a ruddy, rugged frontiersman. a woman, we can't have that. they freaked out. the artist agreed to adjust her clothing to make sure she was clearly white. so the sunbonnet, at least one of the reasons she has to be sunbonnet it with the broader sunbonnet white women needed sunbonnet to maintain their whiteness in the west. they are protecting their complexion, which they would tell you is all about protecting
11:44 pm
their whiteness. >> i have a question for cynthia prescott. you showed the statue of the pioneer family in front of the county building in the city i live in. how widely did you look for statues in provo? did you know that there is a self standing statue of one of the principal ute chiefs in that area? >> no, i didn't know that one. my project, i was trying to be comprehensive in statues that are labeled with the word "pioneer." identified nearly 200 that have this label associated with them. >> you are only interested in finding pioneers? >> this is what i was looking for. i want to acknowledge i that statue could be seen as
11:45 pm
on a horseback taking his planted native land. americans hired the same schools are best -- same sculptor. >> that statute could be seen as colonialism because the largest congregation of utes in the utah territory was there with that was in utah county. they aree cases offering a counter narrative and others they are promoting colonialism. when it's native people watching the white men show up to displace them, that is a very different narrative. >> i grabbed the mic since it
11:46 pm
was next to me. i wanted to throw this out. you're talking about the lee elementary school controversy. there's an interesting story in salt lake city, my home, where they changed the andrew jackson element to school to mary jackson elementary school. there jackson was a nasa engineer and the school board said she had the college degree and andrew jackson did not everyone to point our students towards college. that is one possible solution. if the last name is lee, find someone who you want to reflect to your students. i just wanted to share that comment. >> first, i had the wonderful opportunity -- hello -- the camera is in the way. read cynthia's book. it's really, really good.
11:47 pm
everybody buy a copy. bookout because it is really good, really interesting. patty, i hate to stomp on your western triumphalism -- western tryouts, but not only -- there are remarkable memorials to the civil rights era throughout the south. there is well organized african-american tourism for the south. many of you may be aware after the great migration north, many families now come back. there are school reunions here there is black tourism and the little rock nine and the installation on the capital grounds. they are larger-than-life. it are the rebels nine -- but they the nine,
11:48 pm
kind of look like themselves. the first african-american student at mississippi, there is a statue to that. there was an installation at the enslaved labor that built the university of north carolina at chapel hill. the edc statue, that was -- udc statute that was justifiably torn down. there's a lot in the south that is something of a counter statement to all of the ridiculous confederate memorials and i think that is an aspect of why those are coming down. i had to deal with a lot of this. here is the kicker. stone mountain, georgia. mount rushmore. we have one of the most massive installations to american nationalism and empire, and it's in the american west. >> by the same artist, by the
11:49 pm
way. >> yes, exactly. absolutely. here we are. we are western historians. what is our responsibility. they wonder about the alamo. let's wonder about mount rushmore and what it represents in terms of interpreting western history, and what is the counter narrative they can be presented? yes, i know there is crazy horse nearby. he could be one of the faces. >> the scale of the number of monuments, in this case the enormity, itheir seems like we better get creative artists involved in that. i don't know. there's a lot of sandblasting to take that sucker down.
11:50 pm
there is a whole other new industry way to happen in monument removal. that is where we can retrain them. that is exactly it. commenting on it and twisting it in some way. >> alison rose jefferson. so, i wanted to comment on margaret jacobs, the projects that she presented. this is exactly why we need to have public historians involved with artan seems when you are developing these kinds of projects. minneapolis,ect in the problem with that project is it was not well thought out. it was an artist who maybe had
11:51 pm
good intentions, i can't say what his motivations were because there is a lot of different motivations that could have gone along with him developing that sculpture from the standpoint of really being genuinely interested in social justice. piece, hetatement thought he could get attention. that is kind of cynical but those things do happen. in terms of the museum people, they should have been more involved in doing community outreach to the people he wanted to commemorate in the sculpture. onfind out their thoughts how the sculpture should be put together. as it relates to the museum in alabama, the peace and justice memorial site, that was developed over years. it had all kinds of research
11:52 pm
that went into it. it is a commemorative project that is not just about lynching. were about the people that exploited and also the humanized -- dehumanized. we all know the words we can talk about what that monument represents. i think this is a perfect example of why we as public historians need to be more involved in these kinds of monumental process is best kinds of -- these monumental processes. >> yes. we are talking about the west and the south. i get that. but there is this national thing . i agree with you. we need to get some kind of public historians and public
11:53 pm
interest in the kinds of ways that we shape the ways that we think about ourselves. i am trying to get this thing -- i wanted to show you. this is the bottom slide. the rotunda at the united states capital. i worked at the -- for the senate for three years as a young man and this is their citadel. manyd three times as confederate figures as black studies. every confederate state got to pick one of its heroes. i wrote the names down there. the 12 confederates, the only three a recognized for davis, calhoun, and lee. the others were minor figures in the pantheon of southern history. they put up four african-americans. frederick douglas, rosa parks, mlk, sojourner truth. just since the 1960's.
11:54 pm
of course, what was missing was native americans. so, they chose one native american. anybody know who that is? was it standing bear? before that, i think the first ope, the leader of the public result. you've got a pretty big lobby in the 19 or 20 public communities. after all, richard nixon give them back the blue lake. i don't know that story. i was looking at all the stuff and i was preparing my talk. there was this controversy over the statute of the world war ii monuments. the three soldiers at the vietnam war memorial. and the fact that one of the reasons this became a controversy is one of the the designid that
11:55 pm
was -- i am trying to find what he said. a black gash of shame and sorrow cut into the earth. they came up with this one. i knew there was a white man in the middle and a black men on the right, a person of african ancestry. guess who the person on the left is? it is supposed to be a latino. yeah, that's what i thought. oh. i mean, maybe they got the skin color right. they were trying to be like contemporary, like, ok, we will put up a more traditional statue of soldiers, maybe not raising the american flag it up in our, guadalcanal style, but
11:56 pm
let's show diversity. that's always a good thing to do. statute is-american actually sculpted based on the sitting of an african-american soldier. and so is the white dude, but the latino is kind of a composite. i do not know how they figured that was a latino because i grew up in d.c. and i never thought of that as latino. i should be happy now, i guess. maybe there should be more than just three people up there. where are the women? >> i wanted to highlight a positive and that is the northwest band of the shoshone nation has purchased the bear
11:57 pm
river massacre site and he is in the process -- i am not the best person in the room to talk about it. the chair is right there of the tribe, but they are in the process of developing their own commemorative interpretive center for that site. i think that is an amazing step forward when native people are going to interpret this themselves. i think it will be an amazing thing. there has been a lot written about the monuments that are there already that are essentially pioneer memorials. i think it will be an important change. >> i'm from the northwestern band of shoshone nation. thank you for having me. fascinating. i just have a perspective from us. my grandmother always told me no one is ever wanted to hear
11:58 pm
our story and one day we will , have to tell them our story. the other thing is, i'm not a monument eraser. i want you to know that. monuments are part of history, you thatm i to tell monuments that are put up hundreds of years ago are not important even though we are , smarter today. history is not always neat and tidy, is it. but we need to look at those things. we were able to purchase the massacre site. more than 700 acres this last january. we are going to build in a million-dollar interpretive center on the site to tell the .hole story we are going to tell the whole story. our perspective, but hopefully it is a perspective that looks at everyone's point of view, because my grandmother told me that everyone has a story that is worthy of being told. what is your story? your story is equally as important as mine.
11:59 pm
i am just honored to be here, being your presence, here how smart you are. i told my wife, i don't talk like you people and i feel intimidated sometimes. but your voices are as important as ours. so thank you. [applause] this is slightly in imperial moment here, but the panelists were spectacular, the questions were great, your attentiveness. this is a center cosponsored with the association of the american west and we have a wonderful experience and i call for a standing ovation. [applause]
12:00 am
>> you are watching american history tv, only on c-span3. next, on the presidency, constitutional scholars philip bobbitt and akhil reed amar discuss and interpret how the u.s. constitution defines impeachable offenses for the sitting president. philip bobbitt, who was legal counsel to the senate select iran-contra committee, is co-author of "impeachment: a handbook, new edition," which was originally published in 1974 during the watergate crisis by the late charles black. the new york historical society


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on