Glad to see that a video of Christian Keller’s recent talk at the Lee Chapel at Washington & Lee University is now available. You will notice that even without the Confederate flags flanking the Recumbent Lee statue it is still possible to commemorate the former general and president on the anniversary of his passing.
[Uploaded to YouTube on October 14, 2014]
Below is video coverage of the memorial service for Ms. Mattie Clyburn Rice and her father, Weary Clyburn, which took place this past weekend. The opening speaker references Clyburn as a soldier in the 12th South Carolina Infantry, which is patently false given the evidence. The next speaker uses Lincoln’s Second Inaugural to suggest that Weary and Frank Clyburn experienced the same war. They “drank from the same streams and felt the same heat and cold and they witnessed the same ugliness that is a part of war.” What is completely overlooked is that one experienced the war as a slave and the other as a free man. Teresea Roane, formerly an archivist with the Museum of the Confederacy and now with the UDC, suggests that thousands of black men served as soldiers in the Confederate army. [click to continue…]
Most of the emails that I received over the weekend in response to my interview for a story about Mattie Rice Clyburn were predictable. The responses included references to the fact that I am “from” Boston even though no true Bostonian would agree with such an assessment since I’ve only lived here for three years. And, of course, many of the emails include the tired mantra that I “hate the South.” I filed the emails away with the rest of the hate mail that I’ve received over the years. [click to continue…]
I see three generations of the Clyburn-Rice family in attendance for yesterday’s service in honor of the family matriarch, Mattie Clyburn Rice. It looks like a strong and loving family. Regardless of the nature of the relationship that the family has forged with descendants of Confederate soldiers, we should never forget that it was the defeat of the Confederacy that made Weary Clyburn free. It allowed him to build a family that no longer ran the risk of being forcibly separated.
In short, it was the defeat of the Confederacy that helped to make possible the family you see here.
That is all.
It’s not difficult to understand why Mattie Clyburn Rice believed that her father’s story was intertwined with Confederate soldiers. It was. Growing up Ms. Rice listened to her father’s stories about Confederate soldiers and the war. It goes without saying that it must have been an exciting time in his life and it should come as no surprise that he wanted to pass on those experiences to his family. One thing that has been lost in all the controversy surrounding Weary Clyburn’s official status in the Confederate army is that the core of his story is true. Weary’s wartime experiences helped to forge a close relationship with veterans in Monroe, NC. What else can explain the fact that his passing was covered in the local paper? This, however, does not change the fact that the available records demonstrate that he was a slave and not a soldier.
We can’t know much about Weary’s wartime experience, but his obituary does shed some light on how race shaped and defined the limits of his wartime experience and his postwar interaction with Confederate veterans and the surrounding community. [click to continue…]