It’s hard to believe that as of today I have been blogging for six years. Those six years include 2,400 posts, just under 1 million visits and roughly 25,000 comments. Thanks once again to all of you who make this site part of your daily routine. It goes without saying that this past year has seen its share of excitement and unexpected change, but I am looking forward with a great deal of enthusiasm to the coming year and the publication of my first book in June 2012. I still enjoy blogging, but more importantly, I believe the site continues to serve an important function in the blogosphere and beyond. What I do here continues to put me in touch with new people and opportunities to share my passion for history and teaching with the broader public. I love the fact that Civil War Memory continues to make people think, laugh, and yes, even lash out in anger. It suggests that I am doing something right.
Joyce Ehrlinger, E. Ashby Plant, Richard P. Eibach, Corey J. Columb, Joanna L. Goplen, Jonathan W. Kunstman, David A. Butz, “How Exposure to the Confederate Flag Affects Willingness to Vote for Barack Obama,” Political Pyschology (February 2011): 131-46.
Abstract: Leading up to the 2008 U.S. election, pundits wondered whether Whites, particularly in Southern states, were ready to vote for a Black president. The present paper explores how a common Southern symbol—the Confederate flag—impacted willingness to vote for Barack Obama. We predicted that exposure to the Confederate flag would activate negativity toward Blacks and result in lowered willingness to vote for Obama. As predicted, participants primed with the Confederate flag reported less willingness to vote for Obama than those primed with a neutral symbol. The flag did not affect willingness to vote for White candidates. In a second study, participants primed with the Confederate flag evaluated a hypothetical Black target more negatively than controls. These results suggest that exposure to the Confederate flag results in more negative judgments of Black targets. As such, the prevalence of this flag in the South may have contributed to a reticence for some to vote for Obama because of his race. [Read the Entire Article]
Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know this from those folks who proclaim themselves defenders of “Southern Heritage.” Many of these people are preoccupied with silly battles surrounding the display of the Confederate flag. Anyone who follows this nauseating debate can see that the pro-flag forces are on the losing side of history. Whether they are willing to acknowledge it or not, the majority of Americans do not want to see the Confederate flag in public spaces and supported with public dollars. As the title of the post suggests, however, there is reason to celebrate.
I can’t think of a better example of the dramatic shift that has taken place in recent years in our understanding of slavery’s central place in our collective memory of the Civil War.
Fort Monroe offers the National Park Service a unique opportunity to think carefully about how they are going to establish a relationship with the surrounding communities, including Hampton. As I learned in my study of the Crater it has not always been easy for the National Park Service to break down barriers, specifically within the black community. I hope the NPS places this high on its list of priorities when it begins the process of staffing the facility. The best way to begin this process is to work closely with area public schools as well as Hampton University, which has a rich history of its own going back to the Civil War era. Get the kids involved from the beginning and give them a stake in how the site is interpreted.
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park’s Youth Ambassador Program created a song and video about the 54th Regiment. This is pretty good.