The Invisibility of White Southerners on the Civil Rights Tour

Photo by William Eggleston (1971)

Photo by William Eggleston (1971)

A Civil Rights tour of the South can be a transformative experience for students. I know it has been for a number of mine, who took part in last week’s trip. There is no better place to teach this material than at the very sites themselves. They allow for the kind of identification, empathy and understanding that is impossible to teach in the classroom. The experience is only heightened when in the presence of those people who took part in the struggle. On our trip those participants were almost all African American. They included folks on the front lines and those behind the scenes. They afforded an intimate look into the lives of African Americans and the black communities in which they lived at the time. Continue reading

A Black Confederate Flashback

Yesterday I spent some time working on the section of my black Confederate book that deals with the 2010 Virginia textbook controversy involving author Joy Masoff. I am sure most of you remember.

While doing a search for additional information about the scope of the news coverage following the publication of the initial Washington Post article I came across this local news interview with Civil War historian James I. Robertson. It’s a real gem and one that I’ve never seen. Robertson’s initial response is priceless: “I don’t even want to know his name.”

Catharsis and the Historical Imagination in Selma, Alabama

Student Group at Slavery and Civil War Museum in Selma, Alabama (not my school)

Student Group at Slavery and Civil War Museum in Selma, Alabama (not my school)

One of the highlights of my recent school trip through the Civil Rights South was walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the first time in Selma, Alabama. The bridge is one of the most iconic images of the struggle and the film of the marchers being assaulted by police on “Bloody Sunday” moves me every time. Continue reading

Lingering “Baggage” at Jackson’s Greyhound Bus Station

Jackson Greyhound Station

Old Greyhound Bus Station in Jackson, Mississippi

During our time in Jackson, Mississippi we made a quick stop at the Greyhound Bus Station, which served as the destination for the Freedom Riders in 1961. Many of the participants were arrested and jailed at the notorious Parchman Prison. The city boasts a modern bus station, but in 1988 the old facility was renovated by Renovation Architect, Robert Parker Adams. The building now serves as his firm’s office. Mr. Adams graciously welcomed our group and personally led us through the building. His tour focused mainly on the steps taken to preserve the facility and create an efficient work space. It’s quite impressive. Continue reading