How To Interpret a $35 Nylon Confederate Flag

The controversy surrounding the removal of the Confederate battle flag on South Carolina’s State House grounds continues. A number of public officials and other concerned citizens have expressed frustration over the projected costs for displaying the flag at the South Carolina Relic Room and Museum.

In my latest essay at The Daily Beast I comment on what I see as the bigger problem of how the flag should be interpreted for the general public. I fear we are going to end up right back where we started.

Click here for my other essays at The Daily Beast.

AHA to Address Confederate Symbolism Debate

Earlier today the American Historical Association announced that they will be adding a plenary session at the annual meeting on Confederate symbolism that will be free and open to the public. Panelists include David Blight, Fitz Brundage, John Coski, Daina Ramey Berry, and Jane Turner Censer. The goals of the panel involve the following:

Addressing the current public debate surrounding Confederate symbolism, the historians will reflect on the relationship between celebration, commemoration, memory, and history. Drawing on their expertise on the specifics of each situation, knowledge of similar controversies in the past, and the insights of historical thinking itself, the historians will also deliberate on what can and cannot be accomplished by the removal/relocation of Confederate symbols.

I have no doubt that the historians on this panel will engage their audience with a rich discussion about the history and memory of Confederate commemorations and celebrations. Coski knows the Richmond commemorative landscape as well as anyone and Brundage can speak to the ongoing controversy surrounding “Silent Sam” at UNC, but at this stage in the game organizations like the AHA need to move beyond such a limited format. Continue reading “AHA to Address Confederate Symbolism Debate”

Interpreting Boston’s Second American Revolution

I am probably one of the few people who walks the streets of Boston looking for glimpses of its Civil War past, both historical and commemorative. It’s a neglected past. Sure, you can find groups that stop at the monument to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, across from the state house, but you will be hard pressed to find much more even though the city and surrounding communities boast a rich Civil War commemorative landscape. Continue reading “Interpreting Boston’s Second American Revolution”

New Orleans Should Look to Richmond

The city of New Orleans is offering the rest of the country a lesson on how not to deal with Confederate iconography in public spaces. In advance of a decision that could come as soon as early as next week, the city is holding a series of public discussions. Mistrust and questions about the motivation behind the push to remove four monuments to Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, Jefferson Davis and Liberty Place, have done little to foster a consensus view or even a modicum of appreciation for opposing positions. Continue reading “New Orleans Should Look to Richmond”

The 250th is Coming! The 250th is Coming!

On Monday evening I attended a panel discussion at the Old North Church, sponsored by Revolution 250 to discuss the anniversary of events leading up to and including the American Revolution. Events have already marked the anniversaries of the Stamp Act Crisis and other events in the early years of colonial protest, but the big push will come in 2025-26 with the anniversaries of Lexington, Concord, etc. Boston will certainly be a popular destination for heritage tourists from the United States and beyond.

Panelists included William Fowler, Northeastern University; Martha McNamara, Wellesley College; Robert Allison, Suffolk University and Representative Byron Rushing. I didn’t have any expectations, beyond an interest in how the presenters were framing the anniversary. On this score I left just a bit disappointed. Continue reading “The 250th is Coming! The 250th is Coming!”