No Confederate Plates in Florida

Actually, the situation is much worse:

Finally, before they hit the road, lawmakers passed only two
transportation proposals. The first will outlaw motorcyclists from
popping wheelies and increases penalties for all motorists caught
driving more than 50 miles per hour above the speed limit. The second
bans the introduction of new specialty license plates which nixes
proposals for a new Christian "I Believe" specialty license plate and a
"Confederate Heritage" specialty license plate

So, in addition to not being able to express their Confederate heritage Floridians are also being barred from expressing their Christian faith.  It’s not all bad news however.  A bill allowing the police to ticket vehicles with replica bull testicles hanging from the rear did not make it through. 

Nice to know some things are still sacred in this country.


Can You Identify This Image?

This will be my last full week of teaching before a few days of review and the final exam.  My survey classes are reading through parts of Harvard Sitkoff’s The Struggle For Black Equality and they seem to be enjoying it immensely.  The book does an excellent job of getting beyond the high-profile figures and moving to the complexity of what took place on the ground in various places.  Organizations like SNCC and CORE receive a great deal of coverage and I am especially pleased that Sitkoff emphasizes the fact that the civil rights movement was in large part a youth movement.  I can’t tell you how often I hear from my students that there is nothing they can do in the face of perceived injustices because they cannot vote.  They simply throw their hands in the air in frustration or are already too cynical to even consider the possibilities of activism.  When we discuss desegregation in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education I show my students a fairly large number of photographs of young black teens walking between angry mobs of white people into the public schools.  I simply ask my students to consider the images and ask themselves whether they would have had the courage to engage in such behavior.

We’ve heard quite a bit of late about how little our children know about major figures in American history, but it

seems to me that we fail to understand the past if we don’t also give them a sense that some of the most significant changes cannot be understood simply from the top-down, but must be acknowledged as the work of ordinary people who risked everything.  The decision of the Supreme Court and the reluctant decision of various individuals, including President Eisenhower, to enforce the court’s ruling around the country would have meant very little if ordinary Americans did not step forward.

Now to the reason for the post.  When we first started I had my classes analyze the image on the book cover.  It’s a wonderful image, but unfortunately, I have been unable to identify the scene.  We worked to put some of the pieces together.  We discussed why the Capitol dome had been painted black and came to the conclusion that it must have been an attempt to camouflage it during WWII.  The crowd of African-Americans was much more difficult, but by the time we discussed it they had read the first chapter which covered the period between 1900 and 1954.  So I asked what a crowd of black Americans might be holding in front of the Capitol building during WWII.  The consensus was that they were holding copies of Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order No. 8802.

Given that this is just a guess can anyone identify the image?


Getting Right With Wright

The commentary in the mainstream media surrounding the sermons of Jeremiah Wright and what it means in terms of Barack Obama’s vision of American have been sickening to say the least.  We rarely get any serious discussion, just the same few tapes played in an endless loop.  Worse yet most conservative commentators, who have taken the lead in beating this story to death, rarely tell their viewers the rationale behind it all.  In other words, they never quite get to the conclusion that lingers in the background which is the assumption that Obama holds the same views as expressed in those short snippets.  What I find so depressing is the fact that if Obama had been a member of a church that did little or nothing in the form of community outreach and included a reserved pastor there would be no problem at all.  I admit to finding it hard to believe that Obama was not aware of Wright’s occasional outbursts, but to reduce his church membership to these clips and ignore all of the work that he engaged in through this institution seems to me to be unfair.  All of this comes down to the question of whether Obama shares Wright’s vision of America.  And if the answer is no than what is all of this really about?    Ultimately, this comes down to our inability as a nation to talk openly and honestly about the history of racism and its continued effects within the black community.  That is why it was so nice to see someone on television last night actually say something thoughtful.  No surprise that it was Bill Moyers.  I’ve included his commentary in its entirety.

I once asked a reporter back from Vietnam, “Who’s telling the truth over there?” Everyone he said. Everyone sees what’s happening through the lens of their own experience.” That’s how people see Jeremiah Wright. In my conversation with him on this broadcast a week ago and in his dramatic public appearances since, he revealed himself to be far more complex than the sound bites that propelled him onto the public stage. Over 2000 of you have written me about him, and your opinions vary widely. Some sting: “Jeremiah Wright is nothing more than a race-hustling, American hating radical,” one viewer wrote. A “nut
case,” said another. Others were far more were sympathetic to him.

[click to continue…]

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“It Looks Like We’re Going To Need To Plow Our Own Fields From Now On”

You can find additional cartoons by this illustrator at  If you haven’t already done so I highly recommend reading Chandra Manning’s What This Cruel War Was Over, which is now in paperback.  In addition, I recently finished reading Joe Glatthaar’s General Lee’s Army.  Both studies analyze the role of slavery and race during the war and particularly the way it shaped Confederates and white Southerners.  Glatthaar’s book is a first-rate synthesis of recent Civil War historiography without getting bogged down in an analysis of those studies.  Check out the interview with Glatthaar at Civil War Book Review.


Is Confederate Heritage Really Under Assault?

Not according to this story

Ironically, the
vast majority of respondents knew the Arthur Ashe monument even though
Monument Avenue was started as a memorial to Confederate Virginian
Civil War participants. Even more ironic, only one person guessed
(correctly) that Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, had
his own monument.

History can’t be under assault if the people are ignorant of it.

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