3 min read
Posted on 09.02.15
  • 3 min read
  • Posted on 09.02.15
  • Filed under
  • Confederate Memorial
  • Forest Park
  • Saint Louis University
  • Jefferson Barracks
  • City Museum
  • UMSL
  • Washington University
  • Webster University. Bellefontaine
  • Calvary
  • Bridget Flood
  • Missouri Civil War Museum
  • Tony Thompson
  • Eddie Roth
  • Greg Hayes
  • Ron Jackson
  • David Felling
  • Stuart Symington

Earlier this year, I wrote in this space about the Confederate Monument, the 32-foot-tall granite shaft with bronze sculpture erected in a city park a century ago.

The monument sought to glorify the Confederate cause. It is well understood by mainstream historians to be part of a highly organized, carefully calculated, multi-generational movement – led mainly by women of the Confederacy – that worked against social equality and political enfranchisement of former slaves. It sought to reshape national memory about the Civil War, and to pretend the war had been waged by the Confederacy for noble purposes.

I asked whether Forest Park, St. Louis' most heavily-used community gathering place, is the most appropriate place for such a monument. I asked that a committee be formed to advise me and you on realistic options for moving the monument.

My question: could the monument be moved to better promote public understanding of its place and purpose in history?

Here's how I plan to go about getting an answer: a committee has been formed and this week approved a Request for Proposals that will be sent to 12 institutions representing several potential sites that would be suitable places for the Confederate Monument.

At the top of the list is the Missouri Civil War Museum at Jefferson Barracks -- an institution well situated to tell hard truths -- and the whole truth -- about the monument in our social, political and military history.

Several major universities – Saint Louis University, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Washington University, and Webster University – also will be invited to submit proposals. Their institutional histories, strong faculties, and accessible campuses make them strong choices to provide a place for the Confederate Monument and to tell its story.

The committee will also be soliciting proposals from Bellefontaine and Calvary Cemeteries. Both have deep Civil War connections. Both increasingly have become places where this community learns its history.

The committee will ask Laumeier Sculpture Park and City Museum to consider bringing to bear their unique teaching skills in putting sculptural pieces in perspective (and their experience in moving and displaying big things) to consider lending their expertise.

And, in the end, logistics and cost may limit possible solutions. The monument is made up of more than a dozen pieces. The largest weighs an estimated 75,000 pounds. That means heavy trucks, special permits, and equipment to excavate, transport and reconstruct the monument, exercises whose expected total costs would be measured in the six figures.

Bridget Flood, Executive Director of the Incarnate Word Foundation, is chairperson. The other committee members are David Felling, Ron Jackson, Stuart Symington, Jr. and Tony Thompson.

Greg Hayes, St. Louis Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, is staffing the Committee, along with Eddie Roth, St. Louis Director of Human Services, who is serving as its secretary.

I will keep you updated as the committee advances and completes its work.