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Stories at the Crossroads: Who Built This City?
by WTUL New Orleans 91.5 News & Views
Friday Oct 20th, 2017 2:43 PM
Mr. John Hankins, Director of the Craftsman Guild of New Orleans, offers his answer to the guiding question of the Paper Monuments project: what is an appropriate monument to our city today? His story draws our attention to the often unacknowledged work of craftsmen who do ironwork, ornamental plastering, restoration welding, and blacksmithing, and on the concrete block where the Jefferson Davis monument once stood, Mr. Hankins' words about the craftsmen Philip Reid formulate into a monument of themselves to memorialize those who really built this city.
[ Audio: 20 minutes and 57 seconds ]

What is an appropriate monument to our city today?

This is a question that guides the work of Paper Monuments: a project described as a series of opportunities, events, and interventions designed to elevate the voices of the people of New Orleans, as a critical process to creating symbols of our city that represent our collective vision, and to honor the erased histories of the people, events, movements, and places that have made up the past 300 years as we look to the future. Through public pedagogy and participatory design, Paper Monuments is working to expand our collective understanding of New Orleans.

On September 25th, community gathered together at the corner of Canal Street and Jefferson Davis parkway for a Paper Monument event called Stories at the Crossroads. The concrete base where the Jefferson Davis monument once stood transformed into a stage- rather, into a stoop- where storytellers, writers, poets, and historians voiced their own answers to the question rooting the Paper Monuments project: what is an appropriate monument to our city today?

Mr. John Hankins, Director of the Craftsman Guild of New Orleans, answered the question with one of his own: who built our city- and even more- who built the monuments to our city? Amidst details about ironwork and ornamental plastering, Mr. Hankins lays out the story of Philip Reid, an masterful craftsman born into slavery in Charleston, South Carolina who worked on the Andrew Jackson bronze monument in Jackson square and the Statue of Freedom at the top of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. An appropriate monument to the city, then, is one that honors those who really built it.
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by WTUL New Orleans 91.5 News & Views Friday Oct 20th, 2017 2:43 PM
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