Monumental Lies

Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, PRX, and Type Investigations

Monumental Lies explores the contested history and contemporary debates surrounding monuments both in the South to the Confederacy and in the Southwest to Spanish ancestors implicated in the genocide of indigenous peoples. At a time when state and local governments are deciding whether to preserve or take down such monuments—many of them erected during the Jim Crow era as symbols of segregationist defiance—this report estimates that maintaining these memorials costs more than $40 million in public funds each year. The investigative teams explore how “Lost Cause ideology” often substitutes for historical accuracy by sending black and white reporters, individually, into Beauvoir, a Mississippi site dedicated to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Listeners hear what “truths” each get told. The reporters contrast the state of neglect surrounding black cemeteries across the region with tender care given to sites associated with Confederate dead. And in the final segment, they consider monuments to racist pasts as a national, rather than regional problem, asking how we deal with whose stories go untold as Southwestern states memorialize moments of settlement and colonization. For its efforts to add nuance and depth to current debates about how the public should mark troubling chapters of our national history, Monumental Lies receives a Peabody Award.


Type Investigations reporters: Brian Palmer, Seth Freed Wessler. Reveal producer: Fernanda Camarena. Reveal reporter: Stan Alcorn. Type Investigations editor: Esther Kaplan. Reveal executive producer: Kevin Sullivan. Reveal editor: Jen Chien. Host: Al Letson. Sound designers: Jim Briggs, Fernando Arruda. Type Investigations researchers: Jasper Craven, Erin Hollaway Palmer, Richard Salame. Reveal production manager: Mwende Hinojosa. Reveal senior supervising editor: Taki Telonidis. PRX Chief content officer: John Barth.