The Internet Never Forgets

confederate_flag_wallpaper_by_magnaen-d38qwxt

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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Calling All Public Historians

Public History Wordle

Yesterday’s post about my good friend John Hennessy left me wondering what, if anything, has taken place or is being planned in museums, historical societies and other institutions to help their communities make sense of the relevant history behind our ongoing and very emotional discussion about Civil War memory.

It’s an opportune moment for public historians, who focus on the Civil War Era and the history of race relations. Folks who have never thought about the American Civil War are giving it a good deal of thought. No doubt, some of that reflection is based on bad history. [click to continue…]

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John Hennessy Leads the Way (Who Will Follow?)

MD_Antietam_Battlefield

There is no public historian that I respect more than John Hennessy, who is currently the National Park Service’s chief historian at the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park. John has led the way in pushing the boundaries of battlefield interpretation and our broader national discussion over the course of the Civil War sesquicentennial. As Brooks Simpson put it in a recent post, John “is one of the jewels of the National Park Service.”

It would be easy to lay low over the last few weeks given the strong emotions exhibited by so many over the public display of the Confederate battle flag and the place of Civil War monuments on our many commemorative landscapes, but if ever we needed the NPS to educate and challenge the general public and foster constructive debate it is now. [click to continue…]

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Leave It To Southerners To Decide If It’s Dixie’s Fault

Confederate Flag

It’s a lost cause to try to keep up with all of the thought provoking essays and editorials published over the past few weeks surrounding the national discussion about the history and legacy of the Confederacy. Last week The Washington Post published the thoughts of Thomas Sugrue, who is one of the most respected historians on the history of race, urban America and the civil rights movement in the North. I highly recommend Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North. [click to continue…]

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Farewell to Paul Reber

Paul ReberI am incredibly sad to report the news of the death of Paul Reber. Paul was fatally injured yesterday in a cycling accident in Westmoreland County, Virginia. As many of you know, since 2006 he served as the executive director of Stratford Hall – the boyhood home of Robert E. Lee.

I didn’t know Paul all that well. On more than one occasion, however, we found ourselves at the same dinner table or throwing back a few drinks at a conference. Paul was always very easy to talk to as our scholarly interests overlapped in a number of places. He was an avid reader of this blog. You can find his comments scattered on posts stretching back to 2009. I received just as many private emails in response to posts, which always left me with something to think about.

Paul’s last comment posted just three days ago.

My thoughts go out to everyone in the Stratford Hall community and, especially, to Paul’s family. To all my fellow runners and cyclists, please be safe out there.

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