Listen, this country owes a lot to Black women. From being the backbone of the Black Panthers, to swaying major elections, to carrying corporate America, the needle doesn’t move without our endless contributions. Although there are far fewer bronze statues and park monuments in our honor, one St. Louis based arts institution aims to change that.
The Griot Museum of Black History is one of ten recent recipients of the The Monument Lab Re:Generation grant. The $1M award, distributed evenly across the cohort of grantees, is a part of the Philadelphia-based nonprofit’s initiative to reimagine history through the installation of public monuments across the country.
According to the website, “The participants were selected through a far-reaching open call conducted earlier in 2021, which brought in hundreds of applications from every state, most territories, and numerous tribal communities.”
In a project known as the “Black HerStory Initiative”, Lois Conley, founder and executive director of The Griot, intends to collaborate with artists and activists throughout the city to create awareness around the role Black women have played in the region.
“I really would like to see us do something around Black women in St. Louis particularly because even at the Griot in our interpretive exhibits, we don’t have a lot of content on Black women,” Conley communicated to NPR. “Monuments and memory markets have been so poorly representative of minority groups historically that I think this is a wonderful opportunity for us.”
Earlier this year, Conley gathered the chosen artists to begin planning. The group of artists include poet Precious Musa, designer-activist De Nichols, visual storyteller Alana Marie Woodson, and Darian Wigfall. Wigfall will serve as the project’s visual and audio consultant.
“My hope is that, you know, people will continue to visit these spaces and learn about these women and then be inspired to do something further,” Wigfall said. “A lot of the women that we’re going to be covering have very inspirational stories, so I want people to take those away and maybe create more programming or create more monuments or however they are inspired to continue to work.”
With the $100,000 grant, the team plans to construct monuments in honor of abolitionist Mary Meachum civil rights activist Pearlie Evans, aide to former U.S. Rep. Bill Clay, Missouri’s first African American member of Congress.
While still in the preliminary developmental stages, the Monument Lab Re:Generation project will officially launch in spring of 2022.