What I Told the Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History

This morning I had a pleasant conversation with the executive director of the Danville (Va.) Museum of Fine Arts & History about how to respond to public concerns regarding plans to remove a Confederate flag from the grounds. As you might expect, they have already received some angry emails and phone calls. I am not sure how they came by my name, but I was happy to listen and offer some thoughts. Here is what I shared.

  • Keep the focus on the local community. The museum’s most recent strategic plan, along with its programming, is designed to appeal to as wide a range of local residents as possible.
  • Educate the local community about why there is a need to move the Confederate flag. Be as clear and as open as possible. Bring in a speaker like John Coski, who can educate those interested about why such a move might be desirable given the goals of the museum and the racial/ethnic profile of the community.
  • Emphasize on the website and through other channels that the museum remains committed to interpreting Danville’s history in the Civil War.
  • Reach out to the local chapters of the UDC and SCV to see if there is room to work together. This is their community as well.
  • Understand that protests from individuals and groups outside the community have nothing to do with what is best for the Danville community. They have their own self-serving agendas.
  • Remember that it doesn’t take much to magnify the extent of the outrage against this planned move. The vast majority of people will likely not have a problem with this decision.

This issue should be resolved one way or the other within the next week or two.

38 comments

North Carolina to Construct Civil War History Center

While Virginia has done more than any other state to commemorate the Civil War 150th, North Carolina is not far behind. In addition to conferences and various exhibits, you can now add a history center to the list. It looks like an ambitious project.

1 comment

Virginia Flaggers Looking For Disaffected Students and Alumni

Virginia FlaggersThe Virginia Flaggers have now been on the ground for the past few weeks in Lexington protesting W&L’s decision to remove replica Confederate flags from the chapel and yet we have yet to see a single photograph of a student or alumni on the grounds calling for their return. “Plenty of support” indeed, just not the kind of support that matters.

On second thought, perhaps I misinterpreted their strategy. Perhaps the Virginia Flaggers are taking the long view and are preparing kids like these for admission to W&L. Once admitted they will bring about change from within. Brilliant.

6 comments

About James McPherson’s List

This past week The New York Times featured James McPherson in its “By the Book” series. McPherson was asked a couple of questions about those books that influenced his development as a scholar and who he sees as currently shaping the field.  Well, his responses touched off an interesting discussion on the feed of one of my Facebook friends. No need to link to the discussion. The concern is not only that McPherson privileges male scholars, but that his responses ignore recent scholarship. [click to continue…]

33 comments

“He Had Twelve Slaves, I Don’t Feel Bad For Him”

That was CNN Anderson Cooper’s response to learning that his ancestor, Burel Boykin, had been killed by a rebellious slave, which you will be able to see in the new season of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates. [click to continue…]

11 comments