New Orleans To Remove Four Confederate Monuments

Earlier today the New Orleans city council voted 6 to 1 to remove four Confederate monuments. The vote was preceded by a lengthy and heated public forum that you can see here. I decided early this morning to write up some thoughts assuming that the vote would go the way it did. You can read my essay at the Atlantic.

Regardless of your position, a good case can be made that this decision is the final act of our Civil War sesquicentennial.

Teach Reconstruction

Set in South Carolina and released 100 years ago, D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” glorified the Ku Klux Klan as defenders of white Southerners against a black population that was deemed to be unfit for citizenship in the United States.

Actors costumed in the full regalia of the Ku Klux Klan chase down a white actor in blackface in a still from 'The Birth of a Nation,' the first feature-length film, directed by D. W. Griffith, California, 1914.

Last week a photograph taken at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina showed cadets dressed in Klan hoods, who were reportedly singing Christmas Carols.

citadelcadetsOf all the places for this to happen, especially after the racial violence perpetrated by an individual who identified closely with another symbol of this nation’s racist past. Most, if not all the Democratic candidates have called for the removal of a Confederate Navy flag from The Citadel’s Summerall Chapel.

I would be happy if the school’s instructors spent a bit more time on Reconstruction.

Lynched With a Confederate Flag

Last night I gave a talk at the GAR Hall in Lynn, which is the home of the General Lander Civil War Round Table. My topic was the history and memory of the Confederate flag. I presented a fairly broad  interpretation that highlighted the different stages from the war years through to the current controversy involving flags and monuments. Continue reading “Lynched With a Confederate Flag”

Confederate Flags Return to W&L’s Lee Chapel

Well, not exactly, but John Paul Strain’s latest effort at realism is the next best thing for those people upset with the recent removal of Confederate flags from the chapel room. It’s a curious print and while it may do well within a certain community Strain’s choices distorts the history and identity of Lee Chapel.

Lee ChapelYes, Edward Valentine’s beautiful marble recumbent statue depicts Lee in his military uniform, but as far as I know there are no other symbols of the former Confederacy present when the room was first dedicated. More problematic, however, is the addition of images of Stuart and Jackson on the rear panels. Strain makes it appear that their images have been etched into the panels, but as many of you know, they are in fact clear.

Lee’s burial site was not intended to be a Lost Cause shrine to the Confederacy and the flags that adorned the space, before they were removed last year, only arrived in the 1930s. In my mind the attempt at realism with the addition of Stuart and Jackson does a disservice to the purpose of the space and perhaps even the way Lee wanted to be remembered.

Sons of Confederate Veterans Confirm What We Knew All Along

The Georgia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans has issued a statement in response to plans to erect a monument to Martin Luther King, Jr. atop Stone Mountain. As you might suspect, they are not pleased. Their statement is couched in some history of the site as well as their legal reading that supposedly prevents the erection of additional monuments on the landscape. The SCV has had little success with legal cases in the past, so I don’t put much stock in their reasoning. More interesting, however, are their concerns about how a monument to King alters the meaning of the site. Continue reading “Sons of Confederate Veterans Confirm What We Knew All Along”