Note: This video came across my feed yesterday, but the date of the event is unknown.
How we respond to a video like this no doubt tells us a great deal about how we identify with our Civil War past as well as how we understand the war’s legacy and continued significance to our own lives and communities. Jacksonville City Councilwoman, Glorious Johnson, is clearly sincere in wanting to build connections and encourage understanding between the races in her own community. At the same time she chose to do it at an an event that is fraught with multiple and even conflicting meaning depending on the viewer.
Ms. Johnson is no H.K. Edgerton, but I can’t help but come away with a similar response. It makes me feel uncomfortable, especially given the song that she is encouraging her all white audience to celebrate. Does Ms. Johnson really wish she was “in the land of cotton”? Perhaps the problem is mine. Perhaps I ought to acknowledge the purely instrumental value of history and heritage that Ms. Johnson’s participation and purpose implies.