One of my readers was kind enough to pass on the following video, which was originally used as part of a training course for National Park Service interpreters. The video includes interviews with various interpreters on the necessity and challenges associated with introducing the cause of the war on Civil War battlefields. There are a number of perspectives presented, but all convey the importance of doing so.
This morning I was interviewed on The Takeaway Radio Show by John Hockenberry and Celesete Headlee on the subject of black Confederates. It was a productive interview and I am pleased that the producers decided to follow up yesterday’s show by addressing some of the more problematic claims made as well as broader misconceptions.
This morning The Takeaway radio show, which is a national news radio program produced by WNYC, New York Times radio and the BBC, aired a segment on the subject of black Confederates. It was incredibly disappointing and a number of people, including Ta-Nehisi Coates, brought attention to it. The producers decided to do a follow-up show and a number of people suggested that they get in touch with me. Well, I just finished talking with one of the producers and we are set to do a live interview tomorrow morning at 7:20am. We began our discussion on the issue of numbers, but I quickly moved the conversation to the more substantial issues of how African Americans were viewed by the Confederate military and government as well as slaveholders. Hopefully, we can provide some context for this misunderstood topic and move beyond some of the more statements of Nelson Winbush and Stan Armstrong. I will provide a link to the interview if you don’t have a chance to listen live.
There is no better place to explore the intellectual fringes of the Civil War community than Facebook. You will find some of the most bizarre and reactionary commentary from folks who don’t seem to have any grasp of basic historical knowledge and/or analytical skill. On my last tour of my favorite Facebook page I came across a link to a story out of South Carolina about an African American family, who claims that their ancestor fought as a soldier in the Confederate army. The article itself is incredibly confused:
Sadly, 150 years after Edmund Ruffin fired on Fort Sumter, large numbers of Americans remain in the thrall of a romanticized Confederacy. At Civil War reenactments far more people show up dressed as Johnny Reb than as Billy Yank. The fact that it is acceptable to put a Confederate flag on a car bumper and to portray Confederates as brave and gallant defenders of states’ rights rather than as traitors and defenders of slavery is a testament to 150 years of history written by the losers.