Like many southern cities, Charlottesville’s landscape includes a number of Confederate monuments. These were erected in the 1910s and 1920s, the peak of the “Lost Cause” era of white supremacist Jim Crow laws. In 2015, a local high school student led a petition to remove these monuments to the Confederacy, and Charlottesville’s City Council voted to do so. The backlash was intense: in August 2017, that statue became the focal point of the “Unite the Right” rally, a searing event that ended in the deaths of three people.
Subsequently, UVA Professor Jalane Schmidt and African-American Heritage Center director Andrea Douglas began periodically leading in-person tours of these monuments — explaining both their social/poltical context and their meaning in art history. Their tour delves deep into explaining the essential and difficult history we live with today.
WTJU’s airs a predominantly music format, but we also serve as a cultural institution for stories and community-building. As Charlottesville has continued to grapple with the legacy of the 2017 tragedy and its much longer racist history, we saw a need to amplify Dr. Schmidt’s and Dr. Douglas’s tour and bring it to more people.
During summer 2019, WTJU recorded the audio of one of their in-person tours and assembled photos and resources for further reading. We assembled it all into a digital tour called “Marked by These Monuments” — online at TheseMonuments.org. WTJU also aired audio excerpts of that tour throughout our program schedule during the month of August.
In the year since its publication, TheseMonuments.org has served as a resource for people both in Charlottesville and beyond. It continues to receive hundreds of views per month, long after our initial promotional push.