When Teaching Slavery Goes Wrong

This morning I came across a wonderful series of tweets from historian Kidada Williams, who was responding to recent controversies involving k-12 teachers and lesson plans about slavery that go very wrong. We’ve all seen these reports. Teachers with the best of intentions set up mock slave auctions or place their African-American students in other compromising positions. Examples can be found here, here, and here. [click to continue…]

“The Cannon’s Name is Johnny Reb”

I assume this commercial for Remco’s Civil War cannon is from the centennial. Any of you out there own one and, if so, did it really get you the girl? I have my doubts.

[Uploaded to YouTube on March 10, 2017]

Court Approves Removal of Monuments in New Orleans

In December 2015 I wrote a piece for the Atlantic following a decision in New Orleans to remove four monuments connected to the Civil War and Reconstruction. Numerous court hearings and appeals over the past two years threatened to undo this decision, but earlier this week the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave the city the go ahead on removal. This includes the monument to the battle of Liberty Place. [click to continue…]

What Does the Confederate Flag Mean to You?

This is the question that will be discussed tomorrow evening at the Sargent Memorial Library, 427 Mass. Ave. in Boxborough, Massachusetts. The program is being sponsored by the Fostering Racial Justice Group. I will be joining the panel discussion to add historical context. That will be my only goal for this particular event.

The discussion was sparked by an incident involving a Confederate flag in Boxborough that was eventually resolved. I suspect that the organizers were taken by surprise by the presence of the flag in a New England community. No one should be surprised at this point.

Come on out if you live in the area. This should be an interesting discussion.

Amazon Fills New Store With Books

This past Wednesday morning I stopped by a brand new Amazon brick and mortar bookstore just up the road in Dedham. I walked out after roughly ten minutes of browsing with nothing to show for it.

I love bookstores. One of my favorite jobs was working for Borders Books & Music in Rockville, Maryland back in the early 1990s before the company went corporate and lost its way. The experience of walking in Amazon’s version of the bookstore could not have felt more alien to me. In fact, as counter-intuitive as this may sound, I don’t believe the overall mission of the store is the sale of books. [click to continue…]

New Book on Slave Enlistment Debate

I want to call your attention to the forthcoming release of Philip Dillard’s Jefferson Davis’s Final Campaign: Confederate Nationalism and the Fight to Arm Slaves. Those of you interested in the slave enlistment debate and the broader discussion about African Americans and the Confederacy will definitely want to check it out.

The book is based on Dillard’s dissertation, which I have not read, but I hear is excellent. I am, however, familiar with a chapter he contributed to a festschrift in honor of Emory Thomas in which he explores some of the themes of this new book. [click to continue…]