While interpreting the Jefferson Davis and Confederate Soldiers’ Monuments on the Alabama State House grounds a little over a week ago I couldn’t help but wonder whether this Lost Cause narrative and a growing commitment to remember the civil rights movement can co-exist. It’s hard to miss the latter in a place like Montgomery and other Southern cities. Jefferson Davis now looks down on the Rosa Parks Museum and a number of markers that remind folks of the slave trade and civil rights era. On the one hand these monuments, museums, and markers represent an evolving story about how communities choose to remember their collective pasts. At the same time it is hard not to feel the rub between the competing values that these sites represent. Continue reading →
I go into the classroom every day with the goal of trying to bring the past alive and to help my students pull meaning and lessons for their own lives. It’s not an easy task and I would be kidding myself if I thought that I succeeded in regard to every student that has ever entered my classroom or even a significant majority. I’ve reconciled myself to thinking about it in terms of degrees of success. I’ve never believed that we come hardwired to embrace and appreciate the importance of the past. It’s something that must be encouraged over time and with great care.
I was reminded of this as I was perusing my favorite Facebook pages instead of grading papers. In this post a prominent voice in the Virginia Flaggers whines incessantly that the governor of Virginia has yet to issue a Confederate History Month proclamation. There is still time and my money is on that it will eventually be published – thought it’s content will likely fall short of what it expected by certain circles. Continue reading →
I love the way these two short videos poke fun at the relatively small number of people who imagine themselves still fighting the Civil War. They talk in personal terms about the hardships experienced by civilians and soldiers as if they themselves experienced the very same hardships. They talk in terms of “we” and “us” or “our” cause. This one is for you. Enjoy.
On Sunday I head out with roughly 35 students and 3 colleagues for a 5-day tour of the Civil Rights South. We’ve been meeting with students to give them a broad outline of the history and questions that will be covered as we travel from Atlanta to Memphis.
One of my main responsibilities will be to help students make connections between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement through a close examination of monuments and memorials. I want students to understand that the visual reminders of the civil rights struggle are fairly recent additions to the landscape and that they exist in some tension with reminders of the Civil War and the Lost Cause. Continue reading →