Creating a Memorial
how do we keep history alive?
One student envisions a monument called “Say Their Names” to honor the people who protest police brutality. Her sculpture, to be placed in Minneapolis, would place visitors in a protest; they would stand among a diverse group of people holding signs etched with the names of those killed.
Another student concept remembers Ted Landsmark, a victim of the 1976 Boston Busing Protests. The monument portrays aviator glasses like the ones knocked off of Landsmark by a rioter using the pole of an American flag as a weapon.
“Living as One,” a sculpture of two interlocking figures in colors that evoke the life-giving aspects of water, would be destined for New York City’s Central Park.
say their names
Remembering the Boston Busing Riots
facing history and ourselves
These concepts are projects in a new two-credit senior elective at John Jay High School called Facing History and Ourselves: Achieving Social Justice in the 21st Century, co-taught by English teacher Vicky Weiss and social studies teacher Marc McAlley.
Many of the resources used in the class come from Facing History and Ourselves, an international organization dedicated to using the lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate. Topics are relevant and transformative; students gain critical thinking skills, empathy and tolerance, civic responsibility and the belief they can make a difference in the world.
analyzing and creating
The hands-on creative work of conceptualizing monuments came after the class took a close look at memorials around the world and in the Katonah-Lewisboro community, considering how our memory of history is shaped and influenced.
Observing and analyzing monuments is part of the essential questions of the class, explains Weiss. How does our understanding of systems of oppression shape our actions? Who has power and who doesn’t? Why? What makes democracy work?”
“Students have been tremendously invested in discussions on race since the beginning of the school year,” said Weiss.