It’s really nice to be back in Virginia, even if it is just for a few days. I started the day off with a morning run along the beautiful Canal Walk and I am getting ready to check out a session on black Civil War soldiers before heading out to do some research. So far I am having a wonderful time. The ASALH is definitely less stuffy than what I’ve come to expect in a history conference. You can still pick out the academic types from a mile away, but this conference includes a wide range of participants from social workers to community activists, and clergymen. It definitely makes for a lively Q&A and for someone interested in historical memory it offers a wealth of perspective from within the African American community.
What I’ve heard thus far reinforces the obvious that there is no consensus among African Americans about how to remember the Civil War. While walking along the booths I noticed a number of copies of Lerone Bennett’s, Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream, but I wasn’t able to gauge the extent to which it reflects anything approaching a consensus within the African American community when I raised the issue during one session on memory and the Civil War. For a Civil War enthusiast interested in the story of African Americans you can’t do much better. There is simply way too much to take in. I am very much looking forward to my session tomorrow morning at 10am on black Confederates with Ervin Jordan, Emmanuel Dabney, and Jaime Martinez. It should be a lively discussion and I will be sure to write up a full report.