I am getting ahead of myself, but over the past few days I’ve been thinking about writing a short book on the Civil War sesquicentennial once I finish my book on the Black Confederate myth. I covered so much of the sesquicentennial on my blog that it would be a shame for it to remain there without trying to work it up into a narrative that has a bit more analytical depth. It would be a concise book around 150 pages. This is not the first time that I have thought about such a book, but now seems like an opportune moment to take it on.
One of the questions that I’ve pondered as I finish up the introduction to my edited collection of essays is whether the Civil War 150th ever really ended.
Given the amount of focus on Confederate monuments & flags since Charleston, perhaps we should think of the #cw150 as yet to be concluded.
— Kevin M. Levin (@KevinLevin) February 22, 2017
I don’t want to place too much emphasis on this question, but it is clear that question surrounding Confederate iconography, which were present throughout the commemoration were given new life following the Charleston murders in 2015. We now know that part of what shaped Dylann Roof’s racist worldview was his identification and embrace of Confederate iconography and we know that he visited National Park sites connected to the Civil war at the tail end of the Civil War 150th.
One thing is for certain, the Civil War 150th introduced a public narrative that directly or indirectly pointed to the question of how communities remember the war and its legacy in public spaces. The horrific murders committed by Roof brought this debate out for all to see. When and how it ends has yet to be decided.
What do you think?