Monumental

Monumental

The landscape of public memory is shifting. As we re-examine the plaques in our parks and sculptures on our streets, we grapple with what to do with them. Once we learn the stories these objects tell about who we are, will tearing down statues and renaming schools be enough? Monumental interrogates the state of monuments across the country and what their future says about our own. In this 10-episode series, host and author Ashley C Ford and a team of audio journalists from around the country will piece together the complex stories behind some of the thousands of monuments that exist in every corner of the U.S. Listen to Monumental weekly on Mondays beginning October 30, 2023. For more information about Monumental, visit our website at www.prx.org/monumental

Episodes

October 23, 2023 4 mins

The landscape of public memory is shifting. As we re-examine the plaques in our parks and sculptures on our streets, we grapple with what to do with them. Once we learn the stories these objects tell about who we are, will tearing down statues and renaming schools be enough? Monumental interrogates the state of monuments across the country and what their future says about our own. In this 10-episode series, host, journalis...

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Monuments are not immovable. What we commemorate, what we lift up, what story we tell as a nation has always been changing. How and why do monuments evolve and why are we tackling this now? We'll ask the difficult questions about the meaning they hold in our public spaces and our culture.

We'll situate this series in the current movement to remove historically inaccurate or oppressive monuments and look at how we memorial...

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November 6, 2023 41 mins

For generations, Christopher Columbus has been glorified in monument after monument across the United States. And while Columbus statues have recently started coming down, including in cities like Columbus, Ohio, the largest one in the world is standing tall - very, very tall… in a U.S. territory – the beach town of Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

In this episode, reporter and journalism professor Gisele Regatão travels to Puerto ...

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November 13, 2023 52 mins

An obelisk called The Soldiers' Monument in downtown Santa Fe was erected after the Civil War to honor soldiers from Northern New Mexico who died fighting the Confederacy. But the monument also honors Union soldiers who fought “savage Indians,” – their scorched earth methods resulted in the systematic rape, enslavement, and forced relocation of thousands of Navajo and Apache people.

For decades, Indigenous activists had c...

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Sometimes it’s hard to know which came first – monuments or the stories we tell about who and what is heroic. And for the powerful people who get to choose, it’s usually people who look like them. But what if the hero or the subject of a monument isn’t an individual but a group or a community? What does that kind of monument look like and how might it change how we see ourselves? In this episode, we look at how a new monum...

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November 27, 2023 51 mins

We’re used to recognizing someone powerful with a statue. But what happens when there’s no statue or memorial to a traumatic event? Whoever lives with the impact of that painful history has to confront the kind of power it takes to keep it hidden for so long. In this episode, we uncover the story of the only successful coup d’etat ever to happen on American soil. This act of racial violence was designed to eliminate all me...

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January 29, 2024 51 mins

When it comes to women and monuments in the U.S., we seem to prefer mythical or allegorical women – think a lady in robes holding the scales of justice in front of a courthouse. It’s rare to see real women being honored for their actual accomplishments. But for decades, there was one statue in Wyoming that was an exception. Wyoming is known as the “equality state” because it was the first in the nation to pass women’s suff...

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February 5, 2024 46 mins

The legacy of slavery in this country is undeniable. And yet we’re a long way from acknowledging how fundamental it is to how America came to be, and how it should be discussed and represented. Those tensions are playing out in our monuments - including in places we don’t often associate with slavery, like New York City. On Wall Street sits Federal Hall, a place dedicated to many firsts: the First Amendment, the first Capi...

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February 12, 2024 53 mins

Pearl Harbor National Monument is the most visited place in Hawaii, and it’s one of two national sites recognizing a foreign assault on U.S. soil. The monument tells the story of the Japanese Empire’s sneak attack on the island of Oahu in 1941 and how the U.S. declared war on Japan and entered World War II the following day. But the U.S. government did something else that’s not often talked about: martial law was immediate...

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February 19, 2024 53 mins

Stone Mountain Park is Georgia's most popular attraction, and its centerpiece is a massive rock carving that depicts three Confederate leaders who fought a Civil War over the right to own slaves and lost. It’s the largest Confederate monument in the entire world. The mere presence, let alone the popularity of Stone Mountain raises this question: If people can be oblivious or indifferent to something as big as that carving,...

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February 26, 2024 60 mins

Some monuments are larger than life. And they reinforce this idea that monuments are supposed to inspire awe and maybe even dwarf us. But what if a monument was human-scaled and made us aware of our bodies in space? We don’t often think about the design choices that go into making a monument, but more and more, a new generation of artists and designers are reimagining what a monument can look and feel like, and the kinds o...

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June 26, 2024 38 mins

If you enjoyed our Monumental episode about Esther Hobart Morris, the first woman justice of the peace, here’s another podcast that might be right up your alley. It's about South Pass in central Wyoming where Esther served as judge. The area has endured five booms and busts since Esther lived there in the late 1800s. And now, a new boom has come along...thanks to the popularity of some hiking and biking trails that pass th...

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