Most people here know that I am a big fan of American Civil War Center Director Christy Coleman. She is a passionate advocate for Civil War history and the city of Richmond. More importantly, Christy is an advocate for the healing power of history and its potential to bring communities closer together. The recent news that Christy and Waite Rawls of the Museum of the Confederacy are joining forces to open a new Civil War museum in the city means that we will be hearing much more from her in the coming months.
This is a talk that Christy gave back in September as part of a local TED talk in Richmond. The video was made available on YouTube yesterday. Enjoy.
Last year Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln led to an outpouring of reviews by professional historians, who pointed out what they perceived to be a wide range of interpretive problems and omissions in the film. In sharp contrast, Steve McQueen’s powerful adaptation of Solomon Northrup’s 12 Years A Slave has garnered a very different and even muted response from the academic community. I sense a collective sigh of relief that finally we have a Hollywood film that directly challenges Lost Cause nostalgia surrounding slavery in Gone With the Wind. It could also be an acknowledgment of just how closely the movie conforms to Northrup’s autobiography.
The violence (both physical and psychological) is emotionally draining and will leave you feeling numb by the end. I never thought I would be saying this, but the final whipping scene makes Denzel Washington’s Academy Award-winning moment in Glory seem mild in comparison. In that case Tripp’s whipping eventually leads to a demonstration of his manhood and defiance in the battle scenes that take place later in the movie. There is redemption in Glory where there is none in 12 Years. We follow Solomon home to Saratoga, New York for a very brief reunion with his family, but our hearts are still with the remaining slaves on the Epps plantation in Louisiana. And then the theater lights come on. [click to continue…]
Note: This video came across my feed yesterday, but the date of the event is unknown.
How we respond to a video like this no doubt tells us a great deal about how we identify with our Civil War past as well as how we understand the war’s legacy and continued significance to our own lives and communities. Jacksonville City Councilwoman, Glorious Johnson, is clearly sincere in wanting to build connections and encourage understanding between the races in her own community. At the same time she chose to do it at an an event that is fraught with multiple and even conflicting meaning depending on the viewer. [click to continue…]
Brooks Simpson posted this video over the weekend, but it’s just too good not to do so here as well. I continue to be pleasantly surprised by where and how the Civil War 150th is being commemorated across the country. Enjoy.
Just a quick note to let all of you know that I finally got around to setting up a page at Academic.edu. You can find an updated CV along with downloads of published papers as well as drafts.
At this point I only have one draft upload, which is a forthcoming essay on the subject of black Confederates that will be published next year in The Journal of the Civil War Era. Hopefully, I will have a chance to make some final revisions so feel free to send along comments if you are moved to do so.
Over the next few weeks I will upload a few more items.