Atlanta History Center Lends an Interpretive Hand

Update: Christopher Graham has also shared his thoughts on this subject, which I highly recommend.

I am sure there are other examples, but the Atlanta History Center is the first organization that I am aware of that is addressing the ongoing discussion about Confederate iconography. It is doing so by providing communities with the tools to better understand the history of their Civil War monuments.

The AHC is offering what it calls a “Confederate Monument Interpretation Template” that includes questions as well as text to understand the broad historical context in which many of these monuments were dedicated. It also includes a “Guide For Placing Monuments in Context” as well as a link to books, articles and a couple of blogs, including Civil War Memory for additional reading.  Continue reading “Atlanta History Center Lends an Interpretive Hand”

Does James Longstreet Deserve a Monument?

longstreetThis past Wednesday Charles Lane authored an opinion piece for The Washington Post that called for a monument to be erected in New Orleans to Confederate General James Longstreet. The essay has now been re-printed in newspapers across the country.

Lane believes that Longstreet’s postwar alignment with the Republican Party and other exploits points to an important historical lesson in redemption that has all but been forgotten.

According to the author, the removal of monuments to Lee, Davis and Beauregard and the raising of one to Longstreet will serve to “correct the balance of honor in public spaces.” Continue reading “Does James Longstreet Deserve a Monument?”

Confederate Monuments and the Limits of Public History

If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend heading over to the Civil Discourse blog and reading Ashley Whitehead Luskey’s excellent essay on the ongoing controversy surrounding Confederate iconography. It is the most thorough essay that I have read to date and has helped me to continue to clarify my own thinking about this thorny issue. Ashley calls on public historians, “to convey to the broader public the unique professional skills, knowledge, and perspective that we possess on these topics and how such expertise can be put to work in their favor, if they choose to engage us in their discussions and decision-making.” Continue reading “Confederate Monuments and the Limits of Public History”

Confederate Monuments in an International Context

My trip to Prague this past summer forced me for the first time to consider the ongoing debate about the place of Confederate monuments in public spaces within an international context. We would do well to remember that other nations have faced and/or are currently dealing with  divisive questions surrounding memorial/commemorative landscapes. Many of these debates reflect divisions with deep historical roots that easily surpass those that can be traced to our own civil war. Continue reading “Confederate Monuments in an International Context”

Predictions for 2016: Has the anti-Confederate Tide Crested?

I think it is safe to say that few people could have anticipated the nation-wide debate about Confederate history and memory that followed the horrific shootings in Charleston, South Carolina earlier this summer and the decision to lower the Confederate battle flag on the State House grounds in Columbia. The recent decision in New Orleans to remove four prominent Confederate monuments suggests that other communities may follow suit in the coming year.

  • Will cities like Baltimore and St. Louis follow New Orleans?
  • Will Mississippi change its state flag?
  • Will Confederate holidays continue to be removed from state calendars?

What do you think? What should we be keeping our eye on in the coming year? Has the backlash against all things Confederate crested or should we look for much of the same in the coming year?

Finally, I am curious as to your thoughts about how the past few months figures into a broader understanding of the Civil War sesquicentennial. Happy New Year!