The DeDixiefication of the South Continues

Ole Miss Band

The DeDixiefication of the South continues this week with the news that the University of Mississippi’s marching band has dropped “Dixie” from its playlist. The newly expanded and renovated Vaught-Hemingway Stadium will further highlight our best traditions and create new ones that give the Ole Miss Rebels the best home field advantage in college football,” Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said in a statement. “Because the Pride of the South is such a large part of our overall experience and tradition, the Athletics Department asked them to create a new and modern pregame show that does not include Dixie and is more inclusive for all fans.”

For the Ole Miss community this is the latest in a string of decisions intended to remove or re-interpret Confederate iconography on campus.

Earlier this week Vanderbilt University announced that it will pay the United Daughters of the Confederacy $1.2 million dollars to rename Confederate Memorial Hall. It is the subject of my latest essay at The Daily Beast, which was published earlier today.

New to the Civil War Memory Library, 08/16

Vast Southern EmpireEarl J. Hess, Braxton Bragg: The Most Hated Man of the Confederacy (University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

Matthew Karp, This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy (Harvard University Press, 2016).

Williamson Murray and Wayne Hsieh, A Savage War: A Military History of the Civil War (Princeton University Press, 2016).

Johnnie P. Pearson ed., Lee and Jackson’s Bloody Twelfth: The Letters of Irby Goodwin Scott, First Lieutenant, Company G, Putnam Light Infantry, Twelfth Georgia Volunteer Infantry (University of Tennessee Press, 2012).

Ben Winters, Underground Airlines (Mulholland Press, 2016).

“75,000 Confederates of Color?” on a Billboard

black confederate billboard

This is one of two billboards sponsored by the Missouri Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans that have recently been placed along Missouri highways, one near Kansas City and the other outside of St. Louis. There is something desperate about placing such an advertisement on a large billboard, but it does serve as a wonderful example of how far the SCV is willing to go to defend their preferred narrative of the past and remain relevant.

I love that the claim of “75,000 Confederates of Color” is followed by a question mark.

Answer: NO

‘A Way of Life Built on Black Bodies’

black confederate

The most recent episode of Vice Does America takes viewers to Pointe-aux-Chenes, Louisiana, to meet with Choctaw Native Americans and Jacksonville, Alabama for a Civil War reenactment. The reenactment is well worth watching. It’s begins innocently enough with Abdullah Saeed, Wilbert L. Cooper, and Martina de Alba taking sides and suiting up in their respective uniforms, but things take a sudden turn once Cooper is approached by a Confederate reenactor. [Begin at the 16 minute mark and watch til the end.]

Cooper is asked by the reenactor why he chose the Union group instead of the Confederate, which he claims was integrated and clearly implying that black men fought in the ranks. Cooper’s response directly challenges the underpinnings of the black Confederate narrative. If you want to know what the black Confederate narrative is really about, give it a listen.

It is definitely worth your time.

I Have a Civil War Ancestor!

I have always felt a bit like an outsider compared to those of you who can trace your family’s history back to the Civil War. Thanks to John Stones, who is the “chaplain” for one of the Southern Heritage Facebook groups, today I learned that I have an ancestor who served in the United States army with General William Tecumseh Sherman. I can’t tell you how excited I am to hear that one of my ancestors helped to save this Union, especially given that there is no evidence that my family set foot in this country before 1900.


I wonder if I also have a black Confederate ancestor.

General Edmund Kirby Smith, Black Confederate

Edmund Kirby Smith, Black ConfederateLast week the History News Network published a little featurette about Derek Boyd Hankerson, who bills himself as a university lecturer, filmmaker, author, and political operative. He also worked as Donald Trump’s Northeast Florida Field Director. The focus of the piece, however, was on his work as a historian of American slavery and his belief that thousands of black men fought as soldiers in the Confederate army.

Hankerson recently co-authored a book on the subject with Judith Shearer, titled, Belonging: The Civil War’s South We Never Knew. Hankerson likes to point out that the book was published by a division of Simon & Schuster, but fails to note that it just happens to be its self-publishing branch. I briefly engaged the author on Twitter, but failed to get beyond his insistence that I visit St. Augustine, Florida for its rich history. Clearly, living there hasn’t helped Hankerson better understand the past. [click to continue…]