Remembering W.E.B. Du Bois

Du BoisWhile this week marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington it is also the 50th anniversary of the passing of W.E.B. Du Bois. It is unfortunate, though not surprising that he has all but been forgotten to our memory of the long civil rights movement. Was there anyone more important and for such a significant amount of time through the first half of the twentieth century? I make it a point to introduce Du Bois in my classroom every year, usually through one of his essays or a selection from The Souls of Black Folk.

At least he has not been entirely forgotten in his home town of Great Barrington, MA. The photograph above comes from a local eight grade class, which recently spent some time exploring a local public mural done in honor of Du Bois.

Du Bois on Robert E. Lee: ”  “Either [Lee] knew what slavery meant when he helped maim and murder thousands in its defense or he did not” — From an essay on Lee (1928)

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New to the Civil War Memory Library, 08/27

Eric JacobsonMost of these books were purchased during my Civil War road trip earlier this month. Some of you may have noticed that I set up an Amazon affiliate page that lists books in my library. As always, my small cut from your purchase comes in the form of a book credit.

Richard Blackett, Making Freedom: The Underground Railroad and the Politics of Slavery, (University of North Carolina Press, 2013).

Larry Daniel, Battle of Stones River: The Forgotten Conflict Between the Confederate Army of Tennessee and the Union Army of the Cumberland, (Louisiana State University Press, 2012).

David Gleeson, The Green and the Gray: The Irish in the Confederate States of America, (University of North Carolina Press, 2013).

Eric Jacobson (with Richard A. Rupp), For Cause & for Country: A Study of the Affair At Spring Hill & the Battle of Franklin, (O’More Publishing, 2008).

John Lundstrom, One Drop in a Sea of Blue: The Liberators of the Ninth Minnesota, (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2012).

Mark Schneider, Boston Confronts Jim Crow, 1890-1920, (Northeastern University Press, 1997).

Steven Woodworth, Six Armies in Tennessee: The Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns, (University of Nebraska Press, 1998).

Donald Yacovone and Charles Fuller eds., Freedom’s Journey: African American Voices of the Civil War, (Lawrence Hill Books, 2004).

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Ted Savas v. Imaginary Academic Historians (Round 2)

Ted Savas can’t seem to let things go. Now he is upset that I don’t consider reader feedback on the Amazon page for his new book on John Bell Hood to constitute a “real review.”

PS: Someone might let Levin know that some “real reviews” on the Hood book have appeared on Amazon.

Sorry, but I am looking for a little something that goes beyond paraphrasing the dust jacket to actually evaluating the interpretive structure of the book itself. I don’t care whether that takes place in an academic journal, popular magazine or even a blog post. I also don’t care whether the author is a Ph.D in history or a high school dropout. [click to continue…]

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Massachusetts Veterans Gather at Forbes House in 1924

One of the places that I still need to visit in my neighborhood is the Forbes House in Milton. In the 1920s the home was owned by Mary Bowditch Forbes, who amassed a sizable collection of Civil War and Lincoln related memorabilia. The family were strong Unionists during the 1860s and were responsible for the construction of a number of gunboats and the organization of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Company A.

In 1924 Mary welcomed local G.A.R. members to the house to unveil an exact replica of Lincoln’s boyhood home. The film portion of the video begins at the 2:40 mark. It’s well worth your time. You will even notice an African-American G.A.R. member, which I know will warm the heart of Barbara Gannon. Enjoy.

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How Revolutionary Was Our Second American Revolution?

smithsonian During my last visit to the American History Museum in Washington, D.C. I got to see their Changing America exhibit on the Emancipation Proclamation and March on Washington.  It was predictable from beginning to end. The exhibit was divided between the two key events in an overall narrative that highlighted America’s inevitable embrace of freedom and civil rights. It’s as watered down an exhibit as you can get and no doubt appealed to our sense of ourselves as exceptional and heroic.  Visitors leave the 1863 side with little understanding of Reconstruction and Jim Crow, but with the echo of that overused phrase: “The Promise of Freedom.” It’s a phrase that fits comfortably within an overall narrative that points to the possibilities of freedom in the form of civil rights and an acknowledgment of the sacrifices made by blacks for the preservation of the Union. [click to continue…]

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