On Friday 3/3, students in John and Phill’s 11th Grade US History class took part in a mock town hall meeting regarding the building of a monument to Nat Turner, an enslaved African-American that led an insurrection in Virginia in 1831, the largest of its kind in US History. Staff acted as Board Members (with voting power) who listened to the students’ passionate arguments about whether or not to build a monument to Nat Turner in our local Carroll Park. Student stakeholders in the monument represented the following groups:
- Local Residents
- BCS/BNS Parents
- Police Officers
Students wrote persuasive speeches and letters; some students also completed monument design proposals. Board members asked probing questions, gave constructive feedback and shout outs, and ultimately voted on whether or not to build the monument. Some of the important issues the students have been grappling with in this case study were:
- Who do we memorialize? Why do we memorialize them?
- Do monuments reflect the person/people themselves, or the monument builders?
- How do we confront difficult knowledge from our past? What do we choose to honor?
- How do we bear witness to other people’s suffering?