What Can and Can't Be Said (Hardcover)

Race, Uplift, and Monument Building in the Contemporary South

By Dell Upton

Yale University Press, 9780300211757, 280pp.

Publication Date: November 24, 2015

List Price: 35.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


An original study of monuments to the civil rights movement and African American history that have been erected in the U.S. South over the past three decades, this powerful work explores how commemorative structures have been used to assert the presence of black Americans in contemporary Southern society. The author cogently argues that these public memorials, ranging from the famous to the obscure, have emerged from, and speak directly to, the region’s complex racial politics since monument builders have had to contend with widely varied interpretations of the African American past as well as a continuing presence of white supremacist attitudes and monuments.

About the Author

Dell Upton is professor of architectural history at the University of California, Los Angeles, and has studied the Southern landscape for four decades. His books include Another City: Urban Life and Urban Spaces in the New American Republic and Holy Things and Profane: Anglican Parish Churches in Colonial Virginia. He lives in Culver City, CA.

Praise For What Can and Can't Be Said: Race, Uplift, and Monument Building in the Contemporary South

“A profoundly original book based on very deep scholarship. It advances a strong argument that is likely to generate serious debate.”—Kirk Savage, author of Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape

— Kirk Savage

“Engrossing, trenchant, and broad-minded, Dell Upton’s lucid analysis of both notorious and unfamiliar African-American history monuments underscores their centrality to the national conversation about race relations. Scholars, public officials, and general readers all have much to learn from it.”—Michele H. Bogart, author of The Politics of Urban Beauty: New York and Its Art Commission

— Michele H. Bogart

“At a time when public display of the Confederate flag has generated a lively debate over race relations, Dell Upton offers fresh insights into the motives behind the construction of Civil War and Civil Rights Era monuments in the South.”—Steven F. Lawson, author of Running for Freedom

— Steven F. Lawson

Finalist for the 2016 Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change Book Award.

— Benjamin L. Hooks Book Award