Confederate Monuments and the Threat of Black Education

Many of you will be pleased to hear that my proposal for a Confederate Monuments reader is now being reviewed by a very interested publisher. Along the way I decided to bring on Professor Hilary Green, who teaches at the University of Alabama, as a co-editor. The scope of the various sources is much richer because of her suggestions. We also decided to include an entire chapter that focuses specifically on the debate on college campuses. Stay tuned for future updates.

Here is another wonderful example of the close connection between the dedication of Confederate monuments and the maintenance of white control during the Jim Crow-era. This example comes from Abbeville, South Carolina in 1906 and centers on the conduct of the president and student body at Harbison Agricultural College. Read the short news article from the Keowee Courier.

The president’s graduation speech challenged what white South Carolinians would have understood as the natural racial order that the instilling of black pride and independence threatened to undercut. This report suggests that local whites perceived the same threat when black students protested the dedication of the Confederate monument in 1906.

The college did reopen, though a number of unexplained fires forced administrators to relocate to Irmo in 1910. I have not read the dedication speech(es) for this particular monument, but it is clear that the local white community did not view it in isolation from the threat posed by educated blacks. This is also another wonderful example that demonstrates that these monuments have been controversial from the day they were dedicated.

7 comments… add one
  • Al Mackey May 24, 2018

    This happened in Abbeville, and the latest neoconfederate nonsense propaganda comes out of what they call the “Abbeville Institute.” Coincidence? I think not.

    • Kevin Levin May 25, 2018

      Thanks for the reminder, Al.

  • Joe Lafleur May 24, 2018

    Abbeville is where SC launched their secession from and where Jeff Davis officially acknowledged the dissolution of the Confederacy.
    Anthony Crawford was lynched there in 1916 as well; in case the picture isn’t clear enough…

    • Kevin Levin May 25, 2018

      I didn’t know about the Crawford lynching. Thanks for the additional information.

  • Msb May 24, 2018

    Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading this book.

    • Kevin Levin May 25, 2018

      Glad to hear it.

  • Paineite May 25, 2018

    Great post and valuable information. Thank you.

Leave a Comment