Should Black Americans Celebrate Lee-Jackson Day?

After all, Stonewall Jackson was an active member in Lexington’s Presbyterian Church.  He even worked to teach enslaved and free blacks to read the Bible.  All of this should appeal to black Americans, who to this day and as a group closely identify with Christianity.  Robert E. Lee spent the last few years of his life in Lexington where he served as president of Washington College.  During Reconstruction and beyond black Americans identified the crucial role that education would play in their collective success.  Taken together both Lee and Jackson have been singled out as embodying Christian virtue and whose lives have been held up as worthy of emulation.

So, should black Americans celebrate Lee-Jackson Day?

CraterThanks for reading this post. Scroll down, leave a comment and join the conversation if you are so inclined. Follow me on Twitter and join the Civil War Memory Facebook group for continuous updates and additional links to newsworthy items from around the interwebs. Stay up to date by subscribing to this blog’s feed. You can also check out my recently published book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder.

2 comments… add one

  • EarthTone Jan 26, 2010

    I don't mind celebrating anybody for their work to help others. But they weren't doing that while they were wearing grey uniforms.

    It seems that after the war, many folks did things that might be called redemptive, and or, they repudiated certain statements that were clearly racist and offensive (CSA VP Alexander Stephens comes to mind). That's all to the good.

    But the bottom line is, Lee-Jackson Day isn't dedicated to their post war activities. I agree with Kevin's sentiments as to why he chooses not to celebrate this day.

  • Rick Reddick Feb 1, 2010

    I don't believe that the question regards whether or not blacks SHOULD celebrate Lee-Jackson day, but rather if they could find it POSSIBLE to do so. I refer to their collective memory of the Civil War and Reconstruction, which formulated their perspective even to this day. Emancipation memory exists most prevalently, where it is the Union and President Lincoln, not Lee and Jackson, who set them free from bondage. Furthermore, Lee and Jackson were both taken into the Lost Cause memory erected by the defeated South, both men placed on pedestals of optimal Confederate duty and heroism in service to their country – something which blacks see as abhorrent in light of the Confederacy's defense of their “right to hold property.” Since both perspectives ultimately conflict and cannot be easily reconciled to each other, not to mention the amount of time it has taken for the memories to solidify within their consciousness, it is highly improbable that black Americans could celebrate Lee-Jackson day without feeling as though they betray the Emancipation memory.

Leave a Comment