Chicago Public Schools

Chicago's New Interactive Portal Sparks Debate Over Citywide Monuments

Chicagoans have begun using the city's #chicagomonuments tag on Twitter to voice their opinions

Chicago's new interactive portal for residents has sparked online debate over whether to keep various citywide monuments standing.

Partnering with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District, city officials launched the Chicago Monuments Project website, beginning the program's public engagement phase.

Residents have until April to voice their opinions on Chicago's monumental sculptures, artworks and commemorative plaques on the public way, as well as city parks, selected by an advisory committee for further review.

"This project is a powerful opportunity for us to come together as a city to assess the many monuments and memorials across our neighborhoods and communities—to face our history and what and how we memorialize that history," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot added that given the events over the past year, particularly last summer, it is essential that Chicago residents join the conversation around making changes.

"This project is about more than a single statue or mural, it’s about channeling our city's dynamic civic energy to permanently memorialize our shared values, history and heritage as Chicagoans in an open and democratic way," she said.

Joining in on the discussion through Twitter using the #chicagomonuments tag, Chicagoans have already begun to debate whether some monuments should be removed or left standing.

Residents can pre-register to participate in discussions with the Chicago Monuments Project Advisory Committee Members to share more thoughts, according to a release. However, space is limited to 20 community members per session.

Using feedback from the website, meeting discussions and social media responses, city officials said a new framework will be developed that "elevates new ways to memorialize Chicago's true and complete history."

Lightfoot announced the formation of a committee to review citywide monuments in August, there weeks after the removal of statues honoring Christopher Columbus.

The 20-personal panel is tasked with the role of determining which monuments and art on public land will warrant attention, recommend new structures and promote dialogue around Chicago's history.

“This effort is not just about a single statue or mural, but how we create a platform to channel our city’s dynamic civic energy to purposefully reflect our values as Chicagoans and uplift the stories of our city’s residents, particularly when it comes to the permanent memorialization of our history and shared heritage,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

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