Public art matters. Confederate monuments were installed to change the narrative about slavery and the Civil War, and to romanticize insurrectionist leaders of the “Lost Cause.”
In cities across the country, citizens have organized to take down symbols of white supremacy.
In some places an empty pedestal is all that remains.
Color of Change has launched The Pedestal Project, an Augmented Reality experience that replaces symbols of hate with symbols of equality:
Contentious statues have been torn down all across America, leaving behind empty pedestals in their wake. It’s time to place new symbols in their stead. The Pedestal Project is born of the vision to repurpose these ill-conceived pedestals by using technology to help people choose the statues that should go up on them. Statues of people who have dedicated their lives to fighting for justice and equality. So that beacons of hope and progress can stand where symbols of hate, oppression and inequality once stood. And that people everywhere can have an active voice in the movement for racial justice.
To commemorate Juneteenth, Google Street View launched the Slave Dwellings Project, a virtual tour of slave quarters built between the late 1700s and mid-1800s in Virginia. From Google blog:
Several years ago, when Google Street View began to include views of interiors, we saw an opportunity to document slave dwellings for Encyclopedia Virginia, where we collect resources about the state’s history and culture. Most of the former housing sites for enslaved people are on private property, and therefore not open to visitors. Our virtual tours give access to places that people can’t visit in person.
The Street View tours also play a role in virtual preservation. Many of the dwellings are in poor condition—even in worse shape than when we started photographing them a few years ago. By creating the virtual tours, we preserve the dwellings for future generations.
For the tours, we consciously chose a range of dwelling types and locations to highlight how ubiquitous slavery was throughout Virginia—from the Eastern Shore to Mecklenburg County. People tend to think that enslaved people only lived on rural plantations. But we have tours of slave dwellings in urban cities like Alexandria and Richmond, which challenge the stereotypes of how enslaved people lived.