Category Archives: Memory

Can the Lost Cause and Civil Rights Narratives Co-Exist in the South?

Update: This story from yesterday’s New York Times on Mississippi’s planned Civil Rights museum slated to open in 2017 fits right into this post.

Unidentified Photo From Civil Rights Era

Unidentified Photo From Civil Rights Era

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

 

Glenn McConnell Commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the Assault at Battery Wagner

​Earlier today I shared some thoughts about the ongoing controversy surrounding the appointment of Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell as the new president of the College of Charleston. As you already know, the controversy surrounding this choice has to do with his close identification with the Confederate flag and Confederate heritage generally. This past July McConnell was invited to speak at the 150th anniversary of the assault at Battery Wagner, which highlights the story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. It’s well worth reading. Thanks to Brent Everitt of the National Park Service for passing this along. Continue reading

 

Ken Noe on the Civil War Centennial & Sesquicentennial

This past January historian Ken Noe shared his thoughts about the Civil War centennial and the current state of the sesquicentennial at the Alabama State Archives in Montgomery, Alabama. Ken’s edited collection of essays on Alabama’s Civil War was recently published by the University of Alabama Press.

At one point in the talk Ken suggests that an oral history project focused on Americans who lived through the centennial is needed. I couldn’t agree more. It’s a great idea for a project.

 

Confederate History for All Virginians (if you can make the case)

Virginia Flaggers Facebook Page

Virginia Flaggers Facebook Page

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