The conversation series Counter-Memories
investigates a number of international monuments and places of remembrance whose symbolic significance often reveals a great deal about our relationship to history. The Goethe-Institutes in North America, the Goethe Pop Up Kansas City, the Thomas Mann House, and Onassis LA convene artists, activists, and intellectuals for illustrated virtual conversations around historical memory.
Watch the Kansas City episode about the Levi Harrington Memorial Marker here.
About the Place of Remembrance
Levi Harrington was a 23-year old Black man, who became a victim of a racial terror lynching when he was brutally lynched by a white mob of at least 300 people in Kansas City, Missouri in 1882. Harrington's story is only one out of numerous racial terror lynchings that took place after Reconstruction across the US. In 2018, 136 years after Harrington’s brutal death, a memorial marker was installed by the Community Remembrance Project of Missouri to commemorate Harrington and to rectify a lack of recognition of lynching and racial conflict in Missouri. It was the first marker, which publicly remembers a victim of a lynching in Kansas City.
The memorial marker has already been vandalized twice since its installation 18 months ago. In June of this year, amidst Black Lives Matter protests spurred by George Floyd’s death, it was cut from its pole and thrown off a nearby cliff. The pole that once held the marker is now the only physical remainder of the monument — making this place of remembrance and the vandalism it suffered a special place of (non-)remembrance, or even a place where remembrance is confronted with denial. The Community Remembrance Project of Missouri refers to the vandalism in the following way: ”The attack on the marker represents a violent denial of truth and the very right of Black communities and other communities of color to proclaim it. It is a hate crime”.
episode centers around the story of the Levi Harrington Memorial Marker as an example of how a local initiative in Kansas City is attempting to remember the countless victims of lynchings and create historical memory. Its comprised of a conversation between Glenn North and Staci Pratt, the two founders of the Community Remembrance Project of Missouri and journalist Amira El Ahl. Their conversation will be enriched through spoken word performances and illustrated with videos, images, and archival material.
About the speakers
Photo: @ Glenn North
is the Executive Director of the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center and a Co-Liaison for the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and the Community Remembrance Project of Missouri (CPR-MO). As a Co-Liaison, North is helping to lead a statewide effort to explore the history of lynching and racial terror in Missouri in an effort to help communities better understand and confront present day issues such as police brutality and disparities in the justice system. North holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is a spoken word artist and the author of City of Song
, a collection of poems inspired by Kansas City’s rich jazz tradition and the Black experience. He is a Cave Canem fellow, a Callaloo creative writing fellow and a recipient of the Charlotte Street Generative Performing Artist Award and he is currently filling his appointment as the Poet Laureate of the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District.
Photo: @ Staci Pratt
spent five years as the Executive Director of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (MADP), and previously acted as the Legal Director for the ACLU of Nevada. She is currently the Director of Public Services, at UMKC School of Law. Pratt led the effort to establish a Community Remembrance Project in Jackson County, and now functions as a Co-Liaison for the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and Community Remembrance Project of Missouri (CRP-MO). Pratt holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College, a J.D. from Boston College Law School, an LLM from King’s College, University of London, and a M.S.W. from the University of Kansas.
Photo: © Heiko Meyer
Amira El Ahl
is a journalist and interviewer. She studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo and majored in Arabic and History at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Between 2006 and 2008 she was the Middle East correspondent for Der Spiegel
magazine in Cairo, Egypt. For the next eight years she was a freelance journalist, author and moderator in Cairo, for Die Welt
, Deutsche Welle
and the Goethe-Institut, amongst others, about the events in the Middle East. In 2016, she took over as the editorial coordinator at documenta 14 in Kassel and since 2017 she has been an editor at the local daily Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemeine Zeitung
. El Ahl moderates panel discussions, events and symposiums in both German and English for the European Capital of Culture N2025 in Nürnberg, the Goethe-Institut, the Initiative “Offen für Vielfalt” and many others.
Counter-Memories is a cooperation between the Goethe-Institutes North-America, the Onassis Foundation Los Angeles and the Thomas Mann House in collaboration with the project Shaping the Past