Walpole High School’s Confederate Past

Next month I am scheduled to give a talk in Walpole, Massachusetts as part of their Civil War 150 commemoration. In my discussion with the event organizer I was reminded of a story I read a few years ago about a resident who lives next to the high school’s football field and displays a large Confederate flag facing the campus. The story is not just about this neighbor’s flag, but about the school’s own use of the Confederate flag and other symbols. Continue reading

Son of a Confederate Veteran That We Should All Celebrate

Judge Waites Waring Statue Outside Federal Courthouse in Charleston, SC

Judge Waites Waring Statue Outside Federal Courthouse in Charleston, SC

On April 11 at statue to Judge Julius Waites Waring will be unveiled in Charleston, South Carolina. Waring was the son of a Confederate veteran, who was eventually appointed by Franklin Roosevelt to the federal bench. He is best remembered for his dissent in the 1951 case, Briggs vs. Elliott, which anticipated the landmark case of Brown vs. Board of Ed a few years later. In his dissent Waring concluded that, “segregation in education can never produce equality and it is an evil that must be eradicated . . . . Segregation is per se inequality.” Continue reading

Can the Lost Cause and Civil Rights Narratives Co-Exist in the South?

Update: This story from yesterday’s New York Times on Mississippi’s planned Civil Rights museum slated to open in 2017 fits right into this post.

Unidentified Photo From Civil Rights Era

Unidentified Photo From Civil Rights Era

While interpreting the Jefferson Davis and Confederate Soldiers’ Monuments on the Alabama State House grounds a little over a week ago I couldn’t help but wonder whether this Lost Cause narrative and a growing commitment to remember the civil rights movement can co-exist. It’s hard to miss the latter in a place like Montgomery and other Southern cities. Jefferson Davis now looks down on the Rosa Parks Museum and a number of markers that remind folks of the slave trade and civil rights era. On the one hand these monuments, museums, and markers represent an evolving story about how communities choose to remember their collective pasts. At the same time it is hard not to feel the rub between the competing values that these sites represent. Continue reading