Earlier this week a settlement was reached in Selma, Alabama surrounding a monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest. You can read the story here.
Whether the photographer intended to or not, the accompanying image serves as a reminder that regardless of the battles that Forrest may have won during the Civil War, ultimately, he lost. And that is something that all of us can be thankful for today.
Note: This video came across my feed yesterday, but the date of the event is unknown.
How we respond to a video like this no doubt tells us a great deal about how we identify with our Civil War past as well as how we understand the war’s legacy and continued significance to our own lives and communities. Jacksonville City Councilwoman, Glorious Johnson, is clearly sincere in wanting to build connections and encourage understanding between the races in her own community. At the same time she chose to do it at an an event that is fraught with multiple and even conflicting meaning depending on the viewer. Continue reading “Building Bridges or Perpetuating a Myth?”→
In 2001, David Blight published Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. The book won numerous awards and helped to shape a wave of academic studies that soon followed. Blight’s depiction of a nation that by the turn of the twentieth century had largely embraced sectional reconciliation at the expense of a legacy of emancipation also found a voice outside academic halls on National Park Service battlefields and in museum exhibitions. Many have embraced the narrative of emancipation and its emphasis on African American soldiers throughout the sesquicentennial commemorations as part of an effort to overcome a nation’s willful amnesia. Continue reading “Review of Caroline Janney’s Remembering the Civil War”→
In this interview with 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen, Steven Colbert finds a way to both playfully diffuse and explore Lost Cause themes related to slavery. At the beginning of the interview he comments, “I’ve heard the move makes slavery look really bad.” Later after sharing that he is from South Carolina Colbert admits to having learned that “I grew up hearing that some slaves enjoyed…the job security…” The audience laughs in response, but they do so unaware of the fact that there are plenty of people who still subscribe to the Lost Cause belief that slavery was benign.
While I suspect that Colbert is consciously referencing the impact of the Lost Cause on how Americans remember slavery, what is hard to determine is whether McQueen picks up on it. One gets the sense that he simply views Colbert’s comments as outrageous.
Interestingly, I have not heard anyone from the Southern Heritage crowd complain about the depiction of slavery in this movie. Perhaps the movie is still in limited release or there is a unwillingness to challenge a film that is so closely based on a slave narrative.