The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation plans to spend $250 million over five years to build new monuments or memorials, add context to already existing ones and relocate other structures, the Associated Press (AP) reported on Monday (October 5).
The announcement comes during a time where people are questioning what to do with Confederate memorials as racial injustice continues to be a part of the modern American conscience.
Despite the timely announcement, it's a long time coming after years of work, Elizabeth Alexander said.
Alexander is the president of the Mellon Foundation, adding that the primary focus of the project is to ensure more representation of "historically forgotten and underrepresented communities."
She added that less than 2 percent of sites on the National Historic Register are about African Americans; the number is even lower for other racial groups, including Latinx Americans and Native Americans.
“There are so many stories of who we are that need to be told,” Alexander said. “We don’t have our actual, true history represented in our landscape.”
The money will be used in a variety of ways, such as a $4 million donation to the Monument Lab in Philadelphia. The Monument Lab was founded in 2012 and aims to create conversation around who gets commemorated, what future monuments should be like and more.
The organization may also get field offices in the future with full-time staff thanks to the funding. Paul Farber, one of the founders of Monument Lab, said the money will be "profoundly transformative."
“This is a way to make generational change in public art and history,” Farber said. “When you impact public art, you’re impacting democracy... And I think an investment in a new way of building and gathering around monuments is an investment in democracy.”
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