Mount Rushmore was constructed between 1927 and 1941. A lot has happened in the United States since then. While it features four presidents who have shaped the country to what it is today, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, it’s only right to look at who would be included if a 21st century Mount Rushmore was made.
What four faces would make it on there? It’s important to look at how they contributed to American history.
What Historians Have to Say
Historians were asked to think about who should be memorialized in stone.
Ida B. Wells, a civil rights activist and co-founder of the NAACP
Elliot Richardson, an attorney general who stood up for democracy
Bayard Rustin, a playwright who wrote “Blueprints to Freedom”
Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first woman of color to serve in the House of Representatives
Dwight D. Eisenhower, a president responsible for peace and prosperity
Thurgood Marshall, a Supreme Court Judge with a reputation for tearing down segregation
Dorothy Day, a Catholic Christian who campaigned for social justice
Fannie Lou Hamer, a member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party who fought for the basic dignity of a black woman
Franklin D. Roosevelt, a president who transformed the government to include ordinary Americans
George HW Bush, a president who applied courage to a world of chaos
Dorothy Parker, a woman writer who also co-founded the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a policy expert in post-World War II era America
Grace Lee Boggs, a Chinese immigrant, and activist
Harriet Jacobs, a woman who spoke out on the rampant rape and sexual violence of slavery
While these are the suggestions that the historians came up with, it would be hard to narrow it down to just four to go onto the structure. Who goes and who stays? It would be unfair to address just one issue.
A lot has happened since 1941 when Mount Rushmore was finished. World War II came to a close, the United Nations was formed, the Korean and Vietnam War took place, Puerto Rico became a commonwealth, the Explorer I launched into space, Martin Luther King, Jr delivered his speech, 9/11 happened, Pelosi became the first woman, Speaker of the House,, and Obama became the first black president.
There are plenty of other significant events and people who contributed to those events as well. To pick four would be to weaken the accomplishments of others.
Why There Will Never Be Another Mount Rushmore
In light of Independence Day, it’s easy to look at the possibility of a Mount Rushmore for 21st Century America. However, it’s completely unrealistic because of the state that the country is in.
Who would possibly be responsible for voting on the figures to be memorialized in stone? The House and the Senate can’t even agree to send aid to the border. They can’t even agree on whether or not to keep the Electoral College.
We could allow the American public to vote. However, do we only allow American citizens to vote since it is their America? With the new question of citizenship being considered for the census question, it is questionable as to whether we even know how many citizens are in the United States who could cast a vote.
If it were to be another Mount Rushmore-type figure, it would be easy to say that it should only be presidents, since Mount Rushmore was only presidents. However, what does that say about how females were able to mold the United States? It would be a smack against any female who has taken a leadership role, whether it was in politics or not. It goes beyond the divide between Republican and Democrat at that point.
Obama could easily be considered because he was the first black president. However, many would argue that, beyond playing the race card, he didn’t positively contribute to the United States for the eight years he was in office. So, what presidents are worthy? Ronald Reagan? George HW Bush? Donald Trump?
Mount Rushmore is symbolic because it shows the country of yesterday when the country was able to stand at a higher level of solidarity than it does today. The presidents who helped to form the country into the democracy and be the land of the free are forever commemorated in stone. Until other leaders are capable of truly making America great again, no one should be worthy of being carved into the mountains majesty.