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2019 Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling, Use of Audio Storytelling winner

Monumental Lies

About the Project

Monuments are the history we pay for with our taxes, and that we encounter in our public spaces. But what happens when that history is a lie? We teamed up with The Investigative Fund (now Type Investigations) to visit dozens of taxpayer-funded Confederate monuments, shrines and museums scattered throughout the South and found that they inspire a disturbing – and distorted – view of history: Confederate generals as heroes. Slaves who were happy to work for them. That twisted history is also shared with schoolchildren on class trips. Two reporters, one white and one African American, gathered remarkable, unvarnished audio reflecting the radically polarized views that persist in this country when it comes to slavery, the Civil War and race. The building and funding of these monuments dates back to the end of the Civil War, through Jim Crow state legislatures, and as present-day pilgrimage sites for Confederate sympathizers and white nationalists. Later in the show, we hear how a different type of monument was created — not in honor of the confederacy, but to the Spanish colonization of the Southwest. The years-long attempt to remember that history with a “tricultural collaboration” — Anglo, Hispanic and Native — is a story of frustration and compromise, told from the perspective of the Native American artist who accepted a deeply uncomfortable position in order to have a voice in American history.

Michael Grant accepted the 2019 award for Use of Audio Storytelling. (Video by Aiyana Ishmael, ONA19 HBCU Fellow)