One of my favorite sites is a Facebook page made up of folks who style themselves as defenders of Southern Heritage. There isn’t much serious history being discussed. Once in a while someone will ask for a quote’s source or the reference to a particular book, but more often than not members simply reassure one another of their own worth in the continuing struggle against folks, who they believe are out to destroy all things “Southern”. Here is a wonderful example that begins with a posting by Ann DeWitt, aka “Royal Diadem”.
I had a wonderful time at the Civil War Trust’s annual Teachers Conference in Nashville. Garry Adelmann and the rest of the staff did an incredible job of putting together a first-rate group of speakers. It was a bit hectic having to give three talks in two days, but the chance to interact with my fellow history teachers made it all the more enjoyable. The feedback on both my talk on Internet literacy and using Glory in the classroom were very positive. As many of you know I used the black Confederate myth as a case study for the first talk and I was pleased that we did not get hung up on the subject as opposed to remaining focused on the crucial issue of how to effectively judge websites. I got the sense that most of the teachers who attended the session had not given the issue much thought, which leads me to believe that much more attention needs to be given in workshops and seminars.
Gary Casteel’s latest creation was recently unveiled in the new extension of the Virginia Capitol. The sculpture is titled, “Brothers”, and depicts a reunion of two brothers following the heat of battle. My problem with this piece is not that it fails to capture documented meetings between brothers and family members on the battlefield, but that it plays on our need to see the war and all of its bloodshed and violence as somehow washed away through reconciliation and reunion. Simply put, it doesn’t push me to reflect about our past and that is what an important piece of public art ought to do.
The controversy surrounds the release of a new guidebook for Civil War Boston that was published by The Freedom Trail Foundation. The Foundation is best known for its downtown tour of some of the most significant spots of the American Revolution, which may lead some to wonder why the organization decided to publish a short pamphlet on Civil War related sites. Folks associated with the Black Heritage Trail are apparently not pleased with the scope of the pamphlet and its failure to acknowledge a number of important sites associated with the story of African Americans as well as the work of area institutions that are focused on black history.