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Frederick Douglass and Cesar Chavez Monuments Revitalized

December 1, 2018 in History

By Lesley Kennedy

When graffiti, skateboard skids and too many people touching take their toll, a little hydration goes a long way.

When sculptors design public monuments honoring historic figures, they often focus first on the medium, the message and the setting. Less likely on their mind? A build-up of bird poop.

Such monuments—carefully researched, painstakingly created and prominently displayed in parks and at public landmarks—help keep history’s heroes top of mind. But for many such artworks, years of abuse, from pollution to graffiti to bird droppings, often take their toll.

To help return these works of art to their former glory, Dove Men+Care, which takes as its mission the revitalization and protection of men’s skin, has partnered with HISTORY’s Save Our History campaign to restore two statues of American heroes adversely affected by the environment and other factors. The projects, located on opposite sides of the country, follow in the footsteps of earlier Save Our History campaigns, such as the restoration of the Highbridge Doughboy WWI monument near New York City’s Yankee Stadium.

Cesar Chavez

The first monument restored as part of the Dove-HISTORY partnership: Lisa Reinertson’s “Cesar Marching to Sacramento,” honoring Cesar Chavez, the union leader and civil-rights activist who worked tirelessly as a champion of migrant farm workers in America. Situated a few blocks from the state Capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., the statue commemorates the historic 1966 march Chavez led there to protest years of poor pay and working conditions for Mexican and Filipino grape pickers. The months-long march brought national attention to his other major organizing activities—a strike and an international boycott of nonunion grapes—which together helped bring about the first-ever contract between growers and farmworkers in U.S. history.

Reinertson’s bronze work, located in the city’s Cesar Chavez Plaza, was restored in partnership with the City of Sacramento in November.

When the call was made to artists for the Chavez sculpture commission, Reinertson, who grew up in Sacramento, was excited, noting her personal connection to the leader. Her father, a dermatologist, had worked at a clinic with farmers who were having skin reactions to pesticides they were exposed to. Her mother volunteered to house and feed marchers, who were traveling 340 miles from Delano to the state capital in late 1965 and early 1966, when Reinertson was 11.

“I didn’t know the behind-the-scenes stuff at the time, but my family joined the marchers on weekends and [ultimately] …read more


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