A Visit To the Royall House and Slave Quarters

Royall Family

I’ve said before that if I could do it all over again I would have pursued a career in public history and worked at a historic site. The deepest connections with- and opportunities to encourage careful thinking about the past has the best chance of taking hold on site. Having left the high school history classroom this past spring I am hoping to join a historic site in the Boston area in some capacity.

This morning I traveled to The Royall House and Slave Quarters in Medford, which is just a few miles north of downtown Boston. I’ve known about this site for some time, having read recent news coverage of their efforts on the interpretive front and in a very good book about the Royall family and slavery in New England by C.S. Manegold. I was met by Gracelaw Simmons, a longtime volunteer, who took me around the the Royall home and slave quarters, which is the only surviving structure of its kind in the northeast. [click to continue…]

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There She Is, Miss RebelFest 2015

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Miss RebelFestCongratulations to Taneka Lewis, who has been crowned Miss RebelFest 2015. Beyond this I don’t really know what else to say.

Perhaps I should just let the organizers speak for themselves:

On behalf of the Carolina Rebels Motorcycle Club – Sumter Chapter, we would like to congratulate the newly crowned Miss Rebelfest 2015, Taneka Lewis. Taneka was chosen Miss Rebelfest by the attendees of this year’s event. We look forward to having her as Miss Rebelfest for the upcoming year. Her strong spirit, along with her contagious personality, not to mention, she’s easy on the eyes, should make for a fun and exciting year! In a society that has labeled the confederate flag and the flag’s supporters a symbol of racism and divide; we feel we must also address what will eventually be ask sooner or later: Why is a organization that is called the Carolina Rebels which supports the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern heritage, have an African American woman as their representative? Well, that is easy. Ms. Lewis was not denied nor was she chosen on her skin color. She was chosen by the many in attendance simply because she best resonated with them. She won with 80 percent of the votes. We are very excited and proud to introduce you to our new reigning Miss Rebelfest 2015, Taneka Lewis!

Taneka’s coronation will…oh why bother.

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A Cultural Biography of Silas Chandler

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Last month I shared a brief update concerning my book manuscript on the history and memory of Confederate camp servants and black Confederates. At the time I was weighing the strengths and weaknesses of different narrative forms. As it stood the narrative lacked focus not in the sense that the evidence was not organized, but that the lives and experiences of camp servants remained inaccessible to the reader. Readers meet a large number of camp servants/slaves during the war and in the postwar period, but they are almost all snippets of rich lives shared in passing by their owners and others. I want readers to be able to identify with an individual.

As I mentioned in that earlier post the one exception is Silas Chandler. Having experimented with different narrative approaches to highlighting his life and memory throughout the manuscript I decided to start over and write a cultural biography of Silas. This change is not something that I joyfully embraced so late in the process, especially because I have never written such a book, but I am beginning to see the benefits of doing so. [click to continue…]

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Has the Face of Confederate Heritage Changed in the Past 50 Years?

Confederate Flag

The most common image of Americans asserting their pride in Confederate heritage over the past few weeks has been a parade of pick-up trucks decked out in flags. Some of these groups appear to have intentionally chosen routes through predominantly African American neighborhoods. We are told that these gatherings have nothing to do with race: Heritage, Not Hate.

Ocala, Florida

Ocala, Florida

and

Petersburg, Virginia

Petersburg, Virginia

We’ve been here before. The vehicles have changed, but not much else. [click to continue…]

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The Internet Never Forgets

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You may remember a few months ago a story that I covered concerning two North Carolina high school students, who were photographed waving Confederate flags while on a class trip to Gettysburg. I offered my thoughts in a series of posts that included why my own students were cautioned about purchasing flags in the gift shop during a tour that I led this past March. And I even invited the father of one of the two North Carolina students to share his perspective.

From the beginning my concerns came down to the need on the part of all parties involved, especially educators, to think carefully about how they utilize Confederate flags in the classroom and in public. The photograph of the two girls that was innocently uploaded to social media caused a great deal of misunderstanding and mistrust in their own community, which I suspect the local school board is still dealing with. [click to continue…]

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