Public Lectures & Speeches

Public monuments and memorials profoundly shape our collective understanding of the past and help determine which histories we will continue to preserve and celebrate in the future.

Elizabeth Alexander, David Blight, Brent Staples, and Natasha Trethewey discuss the power of monuments and memorials – from their dominant influence on national storytelling to the undeniable sway they hold over which voices are forgotten, elided, or even silenced.

Recorded September 16, 2020. 

In August 1955, a 14-year-old Black boy named Emmett Till was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by white men in Mississippi. Till’s lynching became a catalyst for the civil rights movement, but his story is not always taught as central to our collective history.
In this video, Elizabeth Alexander, Crystal N. Feimster, and Kevin Young discuss how we can best commemorate Till, who would have turned 80 in July 2021, and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, to ensure that future generations understand and remember the significance of their stories.
This event was streamed live on July 27, 2021.


Wisconsin Historical Society | Monuments, Markers, and Meaning Series

• Lecture 1 – A National Conversation; recorded here
• Lecture 2 – Wisconsin’s Built Environment; recorded here
• Lecture 3 – Change and Community; recorded here
 
 
American Historical Association Statement on Confederate Monuments, August 2017
– An interesting perspective on the “monuments debate” from an influential professional organization. It expresses a noteworthy opinion on presidential monuments which they argue “exist[s] because of their contributions to the building of a nation. There is no logical equivalence between the builders and protectors of a nation—however imperfect—and the men who sought to sunder that nation in the name of slavery.” The “however imperfect” is doing a lot of heavy lifting to justify this opinion alongside the “builders and protectors of a nation.” And David Lowenthal, “Response to the ‘AHA Statement on Confederate Monuments,'”Perspectives, November 1, 2017