Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Michigan High School’s Black Confederate Mural

As if our national love affair with Confederate imagery couldn’t get any more bizarre, a high school in Michigan is having trouble dealing with its historically inaccurate namesake.  What exactly do I mean?  Lee High School has adopted various aspects of Confederate symbolism over the years, including a dedication to R.E. Lee in the 1936 yearbook, and in the 1960′s the battle flag appeared as part of the marching band’s uniform, and another much larger battle flag graced the school’s hallway wall.  According to the principal the school’s name has nothing to do with the Confederate general:

According to Britten’s research, the school took its name from the street on
which it stands. It was renamed Lee Street from State Street in 1914, possibly
because the first family to live there was named Leyla. The district was named
for the high school and the Godfrey School that preceded it.

Wait, the story gets better.

The board and the high school sports boosters commissioned former student Arturo
Araujo to paint the Lee High School Rebel mascot on a gym wall.  The board
of education threatened to withhold payment because the artist painted the
Confederate Rebel with a dark skinned face, unlike the sketch he provided when
he was hired.

Here is the artist’s justification of his work:

I was shooting to represent the whole student body," says artist Arturo Araujo.
"75 percent colored, 25 percent caucasion. That was the whole idea of painting
the mural. So the whole school is represented by it’s mascot.

Don’t you just love the idea of a multi-cultural Confederate rebel?  I hope they don’t remove this mural, though I am just a bit concerned that those who are pushing the black Confederate story will use this as just another piece of evidence.  I can hear it now: "You see, even some Yankees in Michigan have acknowledged the existence of the black Confederate.  What more evidence do you need?"

Renaming Public Spaces

Looks like another local conflict is looming in Birmingham over a proposal to rename a public park.  The proposal calls for changing the name of Caldwell Park – named to honor a Confederate general and slaveowner – to recognize the contributions of former City Councilwoman Nina Miglionico, a social progressive who was appointed in 1963 and served for twenty years. 

William Stewart, University of Alabama political science professor emeritus,
said conflict persists in the South where tributes to Confederate soldiers and
segregationists abound.  "These were established at a time when the electorate was overwhelmingly
white and people didn’t have to be sensitive to African-American feelings to the
naming of facilities after the people who fought to keep them in slavery,"
Stewart said.

On the other hand, according to D’Linell Finley, professor of political science at Auburn University:

At some point even though the city may be overwhelmingly black, there is a
realization that Confederate history is a part of our past too," Finley said.
"Don’t make it a loss of one history for the other.

Just one question for Professor Finley: Why do we have to frame this debate along mutually exclusive lines?  Seems to me that there is plenty of opportunity to balance the way in which a city chooses to remember its collective past.  More importantly, given the monopoly that white Southerners have enjoyed in regard to public spaces, there is obviously a deep need to do so.

A Couple Things

Sorry for the constant change in blog themes.  I was experimenting with different looks and realized in the end that simplicity is a virtue.  This theme provides plenty of horizontal room for postings as opposed to the more confined formats.

I should have mentioned this earlier, but there is an excellent blog that focuses on Boston and the American Revolution that I recently listed on the blogroll.  It is called Boston 1775 and the posts are intelligent and entertaining.  Definitely check it out.

I don’t know how many of you are tennis fans, but I am totally psyched for the Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal.  Nadal is clearly a thorn in Federer’s side, but it should be a close and exciting match as they are playing on grass.  Federer is an absolute pleasure to watch.  His shots are clean and his moves are so graceful.  There is a certain beauty in watching him perform.  He is obviously very comfortable with his body.  I do love team sports, but singles tennis hinges on the individual’s endurance and mental toughness.  It is an exercise in all-around discipline. 

Fridays With Jeb and Felix

Today is the first installment of a new series called "Fridays with Jeb and Felix."  Of course, Jeb and Felix (a.k.a. "The Boys") are our cats.  Friday is a pretty relaxed day so the subject matter seems appropriate.  I am still trying to learn my way around the digital camera, which explains the red-eye.  I will eventually fix it.  For some hilarious photos of cats in sinks, check out Cats in Sinks [via Rebecca Goetz].  It’s a great place to "procatinate."

A New Civil War Blog

I recently discovered a very interesting blog that falls very close to my own reading and research interests.  The blog is called "not in memoriam, but in defense," which as many of you know is a reference to the 1930 Agrarian manifesto, I’ll Take My Stand.  Here is a bit from Sarah’s first post:

Beginning on June 14, I will begin my
thesis research on Confederate monuments in three Southern cities: Richmond,
Stone Mountain, and the tiny town of Moulton, Alabama. From this research I hope
to understand how myths of the South have changed in recent years. Specifically,
I want to figure out how Confederate monuments have fared in cities in which
there has been a dramatic demographic shift. According to the 2000 census,
Richmond is almost 60% black. Stone Mountain, a city outside of Atlanta, is
nearly 70% black. Both of these cities are home to two of the most famous cites
of Confederate memorializing: Monument Avenue in Richmond, and the face of Stone

Entries catalog both her travels and research.  You will find a link to this site with the other Civil War bloggers.