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Truth, Reconciliation, and Public Monuments: The Confederacy, César Chávez, and Chile

There is another path towards truth and reconciliation compared to taking monuments down and marginalizing we the people.

Instead of negating the history of the Confederacy, Christopher Columbus, Father Junipero Serra, and others, monuments that tell the stories faithfully, completely, and accurately promote truth and reconciliation.

Instead of marginalizing or ignoring people of color, tell the stories faithfully, completely, and accurately.

The César Chávez National Monument dedicated in 2012 is the first national monument dedicated to a Latino born in the US after the 1700s. “Our world is a better place because Cesar Chavez decided to change it,” as President Barack Obama said dedicating the monument.

“To see on a piece of paper, for example, the president of the United States ordering the C.I.A. to preemptively overthrow a democratically elected president in Chile is stunning,” according to a historian discussing the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, Chile. “These documents have helped us rewrite Chile’s contemporary history,” said Francisco Estévez, director of the Museum. “This exhibit is a victory in the fight against negationism, the efforts to deny and relativize what happened during our dictatorship.” The Museum reconstructs the 17-year saga of the military dictatorship imposed by the US and the CIA on the people of Chile through the overthrow of the democratically elected president Salvador Allende. Solidarity and resistance in Chile provides lessons for the people of the US today.

The movement for museums of truth and reconciliation has spread throughout Latin America.

Manzanar National Historic Site preserves stories of Manzanar faithfully, completely, and accurately. Manzanzar, the relocation camp where the US forcibly incarcerated innocent people during WW II, provokes a greater understanding of, and dialogue on, civil rights, democracy, and freedom.

Photo Samuel García Stanford ’18

Top Photo Robert García Santa Fe Art Institute Equal Justice Resident.Currently, old monuments commemorating the confederacy and imperialism are being challenged, and new monuments are being created that embrace our multi-cultural histories.” SFAI.