This morning the National History Center will host a Congressional briefing on the history of Civil War monuments. They have assembled an impressive panel of three senior scholars, including Karen Cox, David Blight, and Gaines Foster. The session will be recorded and should be available for viewing at a later date. I look forward to watching for myself as this promises to be a fascinating discussion.
That said, I am just a bit surprised and saddened to see that this panel does not include a single African-American historian. Many of the topics that will no doubt emerge over the course of this discussion will center on the history of racism, white supremacy, and Jim Crow culture and yet we will not hear from a single black voice.
I received an email from someone involved in the organization of this panel in response to a tweet that I posted last night:
We did invite two African American scholars.
So, it looks like organizers tried to secure at least one black scholar. I am going to leave it to you to decide whether this is a satisfactory response.
In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville a number of historians spoke out passionately about encouraging the media to reach out to black scholars for commentary and providing equal space for op-eds and essays. Why the silence in this case? This is not just any panel discussion. This one is taking place in our nation’s capital and is intended to inform and educate our nationally elected leaders.
If ever there was a moment to reflect the diversity of the historical profession this is it.