6 Working Groups Changing the Monuments Landscape



Photo: Spencer McNeil (2021). “Chicago Monuments Project with Brendan Fernandes.” 2021. Chicago, Illinois. Permission to use. <https://spencermcneil.com/chicago-monuments-project>

By Gilbert C. Correa, Monuments Toolkit Project

Over the course of the past eleven months, the Monuments Toolkit Team has been analyzing and documenting monuments, as well as proactive approaches that have been used by stakeholders. The formation of working groups convened by local governments one method often met with success.  Working groups are usually composed of government officials, academics, community leaders, and community members. This blog post shares the work of six working groups that have been proactive in their local communities to resolve controversial monuments in public spaces.

Monuments Working Group—Charlottesville, Virginia USA

Figure 1

The Robert E. Lee Statue Pedestal on Monument Avenue, Richmond, Virginia.


Note. By Martin Falbisoner, “Robert E. Lee Monument,”

Antonin Mercié, 1890.

The Monuments Working Group is based in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was founded in July 2018 a year after the Unite the Right Rally (August 11-12, 2017) by then doctoral student, Justin Greenlee, as a protest-based organization to counter white nationalist gatherings around Confederate monuments in Richmond, Virginia. Its mission is to act on behalf of social justice and remove the bigotry on display in our cities’ most revered public locations. The Monuments Working Group is a division of the Public Humanities Lab in the Institute for Humanities & Global Culture at the University of Virginia. 

The Monuments Working Group’s primary activities occurred in the 2018–19 academic year which included, but not limited to: advocated for belated changes to the University of Virginia’s monumental landscape; campaigned to have all Confederate statues removed from Monument Avenue in Richmond; supported alternate forms of commemoration that acknowledge past acts of violence against African Americans and Indigenous peoples living in Charlottesville, Virginia; leveraged resources that could be distributed to ongoing, minority-led initiatives in Charlottesville and Richmond and; advocate for institutional and systemic change in the monumental and memorial landscape.

Some projects undertaken include, but not limited to: advocacy related to the need to rename the Barringer Wing in the West Complex of UVA Hospital; renaming of the the Boulevard in Richmond to Arthur Ashe Boulevard; removing the Lee statue and other Confederate monuments in Richmond and; the development of an undergraduate course at the University of Virginia for 2019 Summer Session (II) entitled “Monuments, Memorials, and UVa” (Monuments Working Group, 2021).

Click here to read about the Monuments Working Group’s projects 

Chicago Monuments Project—Chicago, Illinois USA

Figure 2

The Bowman and the Spearman Monument in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois.