How High Schools Can Talk About the Confederate Flag

confederate flag high school

It seems like you can’t go a week without reading a story about a student who has decided to bring a Confederate flag to school or wear clothing with the symbol prominently displayed. Over the past few years the number of reported stories has increased in frequency. More interesting, these incidents have spread well beyond the South to every region of the country. While these stories make for great press what is usually ignored is how individual schools end up dealing with the fallout. While the courts have ruled consistently that school administrators have the right to limit the display of the flag that can do little to assuage the uneasiness and mistrust that is present in the hallways. Continue reading “How High Schools Can Talk About the Confederate Flag”

Nine Years Blogging

It’s becoming more and more difficult to remember a time when my interest in the Civil War did not somehow connect to blogging. Nine years ago I had just completed a master’s degree, including a thesis on William Mahone and the battle of the Crater, at the University of Richmond. I thought blogging might give me the opportunity to share my interest in the war with a broader audience. It certainly did.

Nine years later and while I see this site as much more than a blog, I certainly understand that the vast majority of visitors come here to read the latest post. I have no plans on giving it up and, as always, thanks for coming along for the ride.

What I Told the Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History

This morning I had a pleasant conversation with the executive director of the Danville (Va.) Museum of Fine Arts & History about how to respond to public concerns regarding plans to remove a Confederate flag from the grounds. As you might expect, they have already received some angry emails and phone calls. I am not sure how they came by my name, but I was happy to listen and offer some thoughts. Here is what I shared.

  • Keep the focus on the local community. The museum’s most recent strategic plan, along with its programming, is designed to appeal to as wide a range of local residents as possible.
  • Educate the local community about why there is a need to move the Confederate flag. Be as clear and as open as possible. Bring in a speaker like John Coski, who can educate those interested about why such a move might be desirable given the goals of the museum and the racial/ethnic profile of the community.
  • Emphasize on the website and through other channels that the museum remains committed to interpreting Danville’s history in the Civil War.
  • Reach out to the local chapters of the UDC and SCV to see if there is room to work together. This is their community as well.
  • Understand that protests from individuals and groups outside the community have nothing to do with what is best for the Danville community. They have their own self-serving agendas.
  • Remember that it doesn’t take much to magnify the extent of the outrage against this planned move. The vast majority of people will likely not have a problem with this decision.

This issue should be resolved one way or the other within the next week or two.

Pam Mazanec Should Have Taken AP US History Before Trying to Revise It

I’ve been following the story out of Colorado surrounding the Board of Education’s concerns about the revised AP United States History curriculum. Earlier today and following protests by both teachers and students the board backed off from any plans to challenge the curriculum in the classroom. From the beginning it was clear that the position of the board had little to do with history education, but, rather, a perception that the revised curriculum does not deliver a narrative that frames our history around the concept of American Exceptionalism. As I suggested before, it is likely that most of the critics of the new curriculum have not read it or even the version of the course it supplants. Continue reading “Pam Mazanec Should Have Taken AP US History Before Trying to Revise It”

The Exceptionalism of American Slavery

As I continue to make my way through Edward Baptist’s book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, I can’t help but think about its implications for the way we think about the idea of American Exceptionalism. It’s a timely issue given the recent debates about the revised AP US History curriculum. Continue reading “The Exceptionalism of American Slavery”