Three Ways to Remember Robert E. Lee

Every few days I check online newspapers for articles on Robert E. Lee.  I am putting together a talk for two conferences that I will take part in later this year.  My particular focus is on how black Americans remember Lee and the Civil War more generally.  Here are a couple of items that I’ve come across in recent days.  Is it just me or are Juneteenth celebrations making a return? 

The announcement came nearly three years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had little impact on Texas due to the lack of Union troops to enforce the executive order. But with the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee in April 1865 and Gen. Granger’s arrival, forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. It is said slaves in Galveston rejoiced in the street with jubilant celebrations upon hearing the news.

In this case Lee and his army serve as an obstacle for emancipation.  If you are in Lexington today you can join "Bud" Robertson and the United Daughters of the Confederacy for a celebration of Lee’s character.  My guess is that little will be said about slavery, race and other divisive issues.  "I said it’s a celebration."  And finally, here is how the Florida chapter of the League of the South has chosen to remember Robert E. Lee’s 200th birthday.  Why the hell wasn’t I invited?

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3 thoughts on “Three Ways to Remember Robert E. Lee

  1. John Maass

    Is this “Lee Day” something new? I have never heard of it. I have always puzzled over Robertson’s role in the academic world. In fact, even though he teaches at a university, he really does not fit in the mold of “academic,” that is to say, he doesn’t go to many or any academic conferences, has no real record producing graduate students of note, etc. Seems like he carved out a niche for himself long ago as the guardian of Confederate mythology, and has never been taken to task by his academic fellows. I’m not saying he was wrong to do so, I just have always found it curious.

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  2. Kevin Levin

    John, — Great questions. I am going to write up something about Robertson in the next few days on your suggestion that he is a “guardian of Confederate mythology.”

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