Before introducing the activity the teacher can explain the terms monument and memorial, as needed. Ask students to consider and discuss, why do we memorialize people and events through sculptures and monuments?
Have students think about and list monuments and memorials on their island, and on the sister islands. Include where they are located. The teacher can write the monuments the students list on the smartboard, and can prompt students if there are other monuments that they do not list. The teacher can show photos of the memorials and monuments as needed, and use the questions found under Analyze the Primary Source to help students meet and interpret the memorials and monuments.
Class Project: This activity can be used to explore the topic of memorializing historical figures and events. It can be completed in class, or in small groups. Students will need time to research the various memorials and create their recommendations, therefore the project may need to take place over several days.
Tell students to imagine that they have been appointed by the Virgin Islands Legislature to a Territorial Monument, Memorial and Statue Committee. The committee’s task is to make recommendations in favor or against memorials and monuments that exist.
Step 1: Have students brainstorm criteria to help evaluate whether to keep a monument, memorial, or statue in the public place. Discuss potential criteria as a class. For example, criteria could include the historical figure memorialized, the artistic quality of the monument, the sculptor’s reputation, the location of the monument, etc.
Step 2: The teacher can choose 5-7 monuments found in the territory for the class to evaluate. Present images of the monuments and memorials selected on the smart board as needed, one at a time. Tell students that there are three potential options for each monument or memorial:
Remain (in its current location as is)
Contextualize (add full historical details in its current location)
Remove (to a territorial museum, fort, or other location)
For each individual monument or memorial ask the groups of students to make a list of the positive and negative aspects of keeping or removing the statue or memorial. Have them consider what the monument and statue represent and the artistry. Have them use the criteria they developed. Ask them to explain their opinions.
Step 3: Following completion of the evaluation activity, lead a class discussion on the issue. Discuss which monuments and memorials students chose to remove, remain, or contextualize. If different groups placed monuments in different categories, ask them to explain and discuss their reasoning.
Step 4: After completing the discussion, have students share their answers on the following questions:
What were the most important factors in recommending a monument, memorial or statue be kept where it is? Explain. What were the most important factors in recommending that historical context be added beside the statue or monument? Explain. What were the most important factors in recommending that a monument or statue be removed? Explain.