Depicting Race in San Francisco’s Pioneer Monuments

100 Years of Debate
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A century ago, San Francisco society women insisted that their city’s Pioneer Mother statue should celebrate white cultural superiority. Today, as Americans consider the removal of Confederate monuments, San Franciscans debate the fate of the city’s better-known 1894 Pioneer Monument because it depicts white racial dominance. Cynthia Culver Prescott, author of the forthcoming book Pioneer Mother Monuments: Constructing Cultural Memory, will recount 100 years of public debates surrounding San Francisco’s pioneer monuments and lead a discussion of those monuments’ future. Participants will then be invited to walk outside the Library to view the Pioneer Monument with new eyes.

Pioneer Monument. Photography by Cynthia Prescott

Pioneer Monument, Fulton Street, San Francisco. Photograph by Lisa Allen.

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