“I Feel Like I am Living in the 50s”

It’s a script embedded in American history. If you want to send an African-American family the message that they are not welcome in your community, there is no more potent of a symbol than the Confederate battle flag. Its message is unmistakable even without the additional forms of intimidation employed by Shaun Porter against this family.

Porter’s behavior is disgusting and his choice of flag connects him with the worst racial elements that this country has to offer. I hope this is resolved soon.

New Orleans Should Look to Richmond

The city of New Orleans is offering the rest of the country a lesson on how not to deal with Confederate iconography in public spaces. In advance of a decision that could come as soon as early as next week, the city is holding a series of public discussions. Mistrust and questions about the motivation behind the push to remove four monuments to Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, Jefferson Davis and Liberty Place, have done little to foster a consensus view or even a modicum of appreciation for opposing positions. Continue reading “New Orleans Should Look to Richmond”

Teach Reconstruction

Set in South Carolina and released 100 years ago, D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” glorified the Ku Klux Klan as defenders of white Southerners against a black population that was deemed to be unfit for citizenship in the United States.

Actors costumed in the full regalia of the Ku Klux Klan chase down a white actor in blackface in a still from 'The Birth of a Nation,' the first feature-length film, directed by D. W. Griffith, California, 1914.

Last week a photograph taken at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina showed cadets dressed in Klan hoods, who were reportedly singing Christmas Carols.

citadelcadetsOf all the places for this to happen, especially after the racial violence perpetrated by an individual who identified closely with another symbol of this nation’s racist past. Most, if not all the Democratic candidates have called for the removal of a Confederate Navy flag from The Citadel’s Summerall Chapel.

I would be happy if the school’s instructors spent a bit more time on Reconstruction.

Lynched With a Confederate Flag

Last night I gave a talk at the GAR Hall in Lynn, which is the home of the General Lander Civil War Round Table. My topic was the history and memory of the Confederate flag. I presented a fairly broad  interpretation that highlighted the different stages from the war years through to the current controversy involving flags and monuments. Continue reading “Lynched With a Confederate Flag”

‘Every Student Her Own Historian’

AAS SeminarIt’s hard to believe that my American Studies Seminar at the American Antiquarian Society has come to an end. I first want to thank Paul Erickson for the invitation to teach the seminar. The invitation was both a surprise and an honor. The class could not have been possible without the assistance of Marie Lamoureux and the rest of the curators, who graciously gave of their time each week to talk with my students about the different areas of the AAS’s archival holdings. Continue reading “‘Every Student Her Own Historian’”