Travoltifying the Civil War

John Travolta’s butchering of Idina Menzel’s name last night at the Oscars is now a handy little widget that you can use to “Travoltify” your own name. My name becomes Kelvin Lezwis. I decided to plug in a few names from the Civil War for fun:

  • Stonewall Jackson becomes “Sebastian Jerkson”
  • Abraham Lincoln becomes “Archibald Wailson”
  • James Longstreet becomes “Joss Lopeez”
  • Robert E. Lee becomes “Robbie Edbrards”
  • Alexander Stephens becomes “Aleksander Sorphens”
  • Ulysses S. Grant becomes “Ellis Stonz”
  • Bonus: Alexander Schimmelfennig becomes “Aleksander Sancheez”

You get the picture.

12 Years A Slave Wins Best Picture

Check out Mary Niall Mitchell’s Common-place essay on the backstory of 12 Years.

As many of you now know, last night 12 Years A Slave won Oscars for Best Picture, Actress in a Supporting Role, and Adapted Screenplay. Congratulations to Steve McQueen, John Ridley, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, and the rest of the cast and crew for making this important movie.

“Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live. This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup,” – Steve McQueen

“Cruel, unjust, exploitative, oppressive, slavery bound two peoples together in bitter antagonism…” – Eugene Genovese

There are plans to bring this movie to classrooms across the country. Stay tuned.

“We Won That War and Never Let Them Forget It”

In 2011 I took part in a panel on the myth of the black Confederate soldier with Emmanuel Dabney, Ervin Jordan, and Jaime Martinez at the annual meeting of the ASALH in Richmond. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but I did not attend the Carter G. Woodson luncheon featuring Daryl Michael Scott. The topic of his address – or should I say sermon – was the importance of remembering the service of black soldiers as “The Greatest Black Generation.” Continue reading

When Students From Boston Go South To Study Civil Rights

In a little over three weeks I will be heading out with roughly 35 students on a civil rights tour of the South. Our trip will take us from Atlanta, Georgia to Memphis, Tennessee. Along the way we will stop at some of the most important sites related to the civil rights struggle and talk with various participants, including a Freedom Rider who was on the bus that was firebombed in Anniston, Alabama. My primary responsibility along the way will be to help students make connections with the Civil War and Reconstruction era through the interpretation of various public sites including monuments and buildings. It promises to be an enlightening and enjoyable trip for all involved and yet I have some concerns. Continue reading

Rethinking Lincoln and Colonization

Update: Thanks to Brooks Simpson for taking the time to respond to this post.

This past week Brooks Simpson posted an interesting item concerning a dispute between Allen Guelzo and the authors of a new book about Lincoln and colonization. Philip W. Magness and Sebastian N. Page argue that Lincoln continued to push for the colonization of African Americans after January 1, 1863. I’ve known about their book for some time, but have not had a chance to read it. Continue reading