I can’t think of a better example of the dramatic shift that has taken place in recent years in our understanding of slavery’s central place in our collective memory of the Civil War.
Fort Monroe offers the National Park Service a unique opportunity to think carefully about how they are going to establish a relationship with the surrounding communities, including Hampton. As I learned in my study of the Crater it has not always been easy for the National Park Service to break down barriers, specifically within the black community. I hope the NPS places this high on its list of priorities when it begins the process of staffing the facility. The best way to begin this process is to work closely with area public schools as well as Hampton University, which has a rich history of its own going back to the Civil War era. Get the kids involved from the beginning and give them a stake in how the site is interpreted.