January 02, 2010

Remember Them includes Indians

Oakland to honor 25 leaders in huge sculpture

By Carolyn JonesOakland's version of Mount Rushmore will rise this year in an Uptown park: a towering, ponderous monument to great leaders that organizers hope will inspire schoolchildren and awe tourists.

The $7 million monument, "Remember Them," features 25 famous people who fought for peace or human rights. They're an unlikely crew, ranging from Winston Churchill to Malcolm X to Harvey Milk to Mother Teresa, soon to be joined in eternity.

The monument, to be installed in a park next to the Fox Theater, will be one of the largest bronze sculptures in the United States. It will be three stories tall, weigh about 25 tons and span 90 feet--a third the length of a football field.
The list of leaders from the statue's official website:

Abraham Lincoln
César Chávez
Coretta Scott King
Elie Wiesel
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Frederick Douglas
Harvey Milk
Chief Joseph
Malcolm X
Martin Luther King Jr.
Maya Angelou
Mahatma Gandhi
Nelson Mandela
Oskar Schindler
Ralph Abernathy
Unknown rebel of Tiananmen Square
Rigoberta Menchú Tum
Rosa Parks
Shirin Ebadi
Susan B. Anthony
Mother Teresa
Thich Nhat Hanh
Winston Churchill
Helen Keller
Ruby Bridges

Comment:  This is a great list of people to honor. And with two of the 25 slots, Indians are getting their fair share of attention.

I like the sculpture's look, too. The heads emerging from a towering mass--as if they're emerging from a multitude of people who also worked for peace and human rights.

Some commenters on this article called the sculpture a waste of taxpayers' money. Apparently they didn't or couldn't read the part about its being funded with private donations. And some complained about the omission of Jesus and other Christian figures. Obviously the sculpture represents the modern era (since the Civil War), not all of human history.

My only criticism is that there are too many representatives from the black Civil Rights movement (six) and too few from outside the US (eight). Looking at a list of Nobel Peace Prize winners and others, the monument could've included Jimmy Carter, Pope John Paul II, Kofi Annan, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Dalai Lama, Lech Walesa, Andrei Sakharov, Dag Hammarskjöld, and Albert Schweitzer. The inclusion of people who fought for the Jews against the Nazis is good, but the monument should include people who fought Communism as well.

For more on monuments, see Best Indian Monuments to Topple.

Below:  "Artist Mario Chiodo admired Abraham Lincoln enough to give him center stage in one of his 'Remember Them' monuments. Others in this piece include Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Cesar Chavez, Malcolm X, Sir Winston Churchill and Susan B. Anthony."

(Photo: Lance Iversen/The Chronicle)

1 comment:

dmarks said...

"but the monument should include people who fought Communism as well."

Remove Maya Angelou and replace her with Lech Walesa, then. He's one you named. The one I really think is too tarnished to consider is Kofi Annan, who didn't make it onto the actual list but is one of your suggested alternates.

Near as I can tell, her civil right accomplishments are too much in the shadow of Dr. King... keeping with your point that perhaps too many "Civil Rights Era" African-Americans are on the list.

They need to be commended, though, for a selection processed that apparently avoided spam and outside tampering. Otherwise, Stephen Colbert and Kamal Attaturk would be on the list.

Conservatives who might complain should rest easy with Mother Teresa, the Tiananmen rebel, Winston Churchill, Susan B. Anthony, and others on the list.