Introducing *Bunk*

I am super excited to help introduce the new digital history project created by historian Edward L. Ayers and editor Tony Field called Bunk. What is Bunk? Well, rather than me trying to explain it, I will leave it to Ed and Tony to introduce the project in this short video. Click here for additional information.

One of the reasons I am so excited about this project is because I was asked to come on board as a contributing editor. My role will be to look out for those stories that touch on various aspects of historical memory. You can also look forward to regular monthly op-eds from me as well as articles and op-eds curated into what we are calling “Collections,” which group individual stories around a common theme. You can see an example of this here. I am currently working on one that will coincide with the upcoming PBS documentary on Vietnam from Ken Burns.

Take some time to explore the site. We are likely going to see a good deal of activity over the next few weeks now that the site is live. History educators will certainly find this resource to be helpful in trying to make those connections between current events and the past more tangible for their students.

Once again, I want to thank Ed and Tony for the invitation to join the team.

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Trouble For Confederate Reenactors

It should come as no surprise that reenactors who don Confederate gray and display the Confederate battle flag are meeting more and more resistance from people who question their motivation. A group of Maine men, who reenact the 15th Alabama, have experienced this firsthand in the form of heckling during parades and from those who question their racial motivation. [click to continue…]

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Historians For a Better Future Add Context to Confederate Monument

The group Historians for a Better Future has come up with an interesting approach to adding context to North Carolina’s Confederate monument to women in Raleigh. Their banners feature quotes from historians, including Lonnie Bunch III, Karen Cox, Eric Foner, and Manisha Sinha.

Historians for a Better Future in Raleigh, NC

The banners also resemble those carried by women campaigning for the right to vote in front of the White House during WWI. You can follow the organization at their Facebook page.

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Robert E. Lee Takes Another Hit

I think it is safe to say that this has not been a good year for the memory of Robert E. Lee as well as the Confederacy. The Lost Cause is in retreat throughout much of the former Confederate states. Lee monuments have been removed in New Orleans and Baltimore. As we all know, the Charlottesville city council also voted to remove its monument to Lee. Its removal awaits a court decision. In the mean time it remains covered with a black tarp. [click to continue…]

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Visiting Civil War Battlefields in the Wake of Charlottesville

A good friend of mine who is a historian with the National Park Service offered this observation the other day:

The present debate over Confederate iconography will, over time, fundamentally alter the place battlefields hold in America’s historic and cultural landscapes.

He’s absolutely right. [click to continue…]

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The Daily Show’s Solution to the Confederate Monument Debate

I finally got around to watching The Daily Show’s recent segment on the Confederate monument debate. I particularly appreciate the suggestions from Trevor Noah and Roy Wood, Jr. on ways to add to public landscapes that include Confederate monuments rather than removing or relocating them. [click to continue…]

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A Response to Anonymous

First, thanks to all of you who have commented on the recent guest post in favor of maintaining Confederate monuments. A number of you have expressed concern about my decision to allow my guest to post anonymously. I understand your concerns and I am re-thinking my policy. For now I want to share a few thoughts in response to the content of the post.

I could not disagree more with the overall thrust of this piece. The author appears to be unaware of the underlying fact that the vast majority of these monuments were erected during the Jim Crow-era–a point at which African Americans were legally barred from taking part in public discussions (that involved their tax dollars) about how their community’s past would remember the Civil War. Many of the soldier monuments that the author fondly recalls were dedicated on court house grounds that regardless of their intent would have sent a specific messages to different segments of the community. [click to continue…]

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Teaching Charlottesville and Confederate Monuments

For those of you looking for resources surrounding the recent events in Charlottesville and the broader Confederate monument debate, I highly recommend this lesson plan from The Choices Program. It offers an overview of what happened in Charlottesville on August 12, but also does an excellent job of focusing on the broader issues surrounding the Robert E. Lee monument and Civil War memory. [click to continue…]

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