Well, my summer has officially started and it promises to be quite busy. I have a couple of talks to give, a number of writing projects to finish, and somewhere in between, I need to relax and do nothing at all. I am loathe to add anything to my plate, but I would have been foolish not to accept an invitation to be interviewed for a documentary on the history and memory of “black Confederates.” The director of the documentary teaches at East Carolina University.
The project is in the beginning stages so I don’t have much to report. Admittedly, I was skeptical after receiving an email from one of the director’s assistants, but a couple of phone conversations alleviated my worst fears. My biggest concern is not having control over my interviews, specifically in terms of how they will be edited and placed in the documentary. As you all know this is a controversial and widely misunderstood subject and the last thing that I want to see happen is my own words used to further some of the more pernicious myths. Even with those concerns, however, I still think it would be a mistake to pass up this opportunity.
While I am flattered to have been asked to participate I should point out that I do not consider myself to be an expert in this area. Yes, I’ve written quite a bit about the subject on this site and it even attracted a publisher, which led to an offer to write a book, but I have yet to publish anything on the subject. In fact, my first inclination when talking with the director was to recommend others who can probably do a much better job. At the same time, perhaps I’ve underestimated the scholarly worth of some of what I’ve written here. Keep in mind that I tend not to think of Civil War Memory as a place where I do history. Clearly, there are elements of that process here, but I would much rather point to my publications as examples of my work and worth as a historian as well as subjects which I can speak about with some authority.
As I said, all things considered I’ve decided to participate in this subject. The plan is to film the interviews in the next two weeks and, of course, I will keep you updated. Hollywood, here I come. [Photograph by Brooks Simpson at Civil Warriors]