Discussing Confederate Iconography at Annual Meeting of AASLH

Although it was organized last minute, I thought some of you would like to know that I will be co-moderating a discussion on the ongoing controversy surrounding Confederate iconography at the annual meeting of the American Association for State and Local History in Louisville, Kentucky next month. The other moderator for this discussion will be Bob Beatty, who is the chief operating officer for the AASLH. A few years ago I took part in an AASLH roundtable discussion on the Civil War sesquicentennial and had a wonderful time. Continue reading “Discussing Confederate Iconography at Annual Meeting of AASLH”

Timothy Tyson on North Carolina’s Confederate Legacy

Here is a thoughtful op-ed by by Timothy Tyson in response to North Carolina’s Mandatory Confederate Monuments Act, which appeared today in The News & Observer.

Our statehouse displays no statues to celebrate the interracial Fusion movement of the 1890s, which could have led the way into a different kind of South. We have no monuments on our courthouse lawns to the interracial civil rights movement that helped to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which made black Southerners full citizens for the first time. There are no monuments at the Capitol to Abraham Galloway, Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Ella Baker or Julius Chambers.

Only one side of our racial history – the Confederates and the white supremacy movement – gets public monuments in North Carolina. And yet the history that we leave out of our public square speaks lessons far more profound than the message of the Confederacy.

The recent legislation that gives the North Carolina legislature the ultimate say over public “objects of remembrance,” including Confederate memorials, is not about preserving the legacy of the Confederacy. Instead, it will be marked as a monument to racial gerrymandering, racially driven voting laws, a war on the public schools and the authors’ quaking fear of a different kind of North Carolina, one where everyone has an equal and generous chance to blossom with their God-given rights and abilities.

The Challenge of Contextualizing Confederate Monuments

Calls for the removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces continues at a steady clip. Yesterday, the president of the University of Texas at Austin decided to remove a monument to Jefferson Davis, while leaving two monuments to Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston in place. Last night, after a public forum, two committees for the New Orleans city council voted to remove monuments to Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard and one commemorating the Battle of Liberty Place. Confederate monuments continue to be vandalized as well.

Public historians and other commentators in this ongoing debate have called for the contextualization of monuments regardless of whether they are moved or remain in place. The president of the University of Texas stated that all of the Confederate monuments on campus will be properly interpreted for the benefit of the community and future visitors to campus. On more than one occasion I have suggested that contextualization is a viable way forward. I still believe this, but how to move forward is not so clear. Continue reading “The Challenge of Contextualizing Confederate Monuments”

Jefferson Davis Goes, While Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston Stay

The debate at the University of Texas at Austin over the presence on campus of monuments to Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston is not a new one. In 1969 a group calling itself Afro-Americans for Black Liberation made a list of demands on the campus administration that included removing these statues. Jump to August 2015 and in the wake of the mass shootings in Charleston and the very public and emotional debate about the place of Confederate iconography, including monuments, in public places it should come as no surprise that action would be taken. Continue reading “Jefferson Davis Goes, While Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston Stay”

Why Even Now It’s Still Wrong To Vandalize Confederate Monuments

Over the past month I’ve written quite a bit about the ongoing discussion about the place of Confederate iconography – specifically flags and monuments – in local communities. Listening to the viewpoints of people on all sides of this issue and having to consider the actions of others has given me quite a bit to consider. A trip to Europe and exposure to new public history has also added to my curiosity. That I blog about it gives you a front seat to a thought process that may seem confused and even frustrating.

In 2011 I published a brief essay in the Atlantic in response to the vandalizing of the Lee Monument in my old hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. I’ve linked to it numerous times over the past few weeks to give readers a sense of where I am coming from as a historian of Civil War memory and, more importantly, as an educator. I even reiterated the points made in a recent post. Continue reading “Why Even Now It’s Still Wrong To Vandalize Confederate Monuments”