…Does it Really Matter?
Earlier today the Virginia Flaggers held a dedication ceremony for their new Confederate battle flag that flies atop a 50 foot pole along I-95 in Chesterfield County. My biggest concern was that the flag would constitute a major eye sore for motorists along this stretch of highway, but based on the few photographs that I’ve seen, unless you know exactly where to look for it, you are very likely going to miss it entirely. So ends this latest round of Flagger follies. Continue reading
The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities has a made available what it calls a discussion guide for those who are looking to host a conversation about the Confederate flag that is slated to be raised on private land off of I-95 this weekend. I am not sure who is going to take advantage of this, but I appreciate their sincere interest in encouraging meaningful dialog within the Richmond community and beyond. The guide includes a short article by historian John Coski outlining the history of the Confederate flag followed by a list of guidelines on running a discussion and suggested questions.
This project takes its place alongside the ongoing series of discussions organized by the University of Richmond’s “The Future of Richmond’s Past.” This should serve as a reminder that there is a place in Richmond where one can meaningfully come to terms with the region’s rich history and heritage without alienating one another.
You can find and download the document here.
Update: The more I think about it, the more I agree with a commenter below that on this particular issue I am splitting hairs. Perhaps I’ve allowed my disgust for this project to get the better of me. Take a listen to NPS Ranger, Christopher Young, who just finished commemorating the 150th anniversary of the battle of Chickamauga. He has the right idea when it comes to remembering and commemorating our Civil War soldiers. Finally, let me be clear that I am not offended by the sight of this flag. What I find offensive is how it is manipulated and abused by these people.
Next weekend the Virginia Flaggers will unveil their Confederate battle flag somewhere along I-95 in Chesterfield County, near Richmond. This week they unveiled their new flag on the steps of the Virginia capital. It appears they went with something that resembles the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. I say resembles because if you look closely something is very, very wrong.
If you look closely you will notice that the stars are not spaced properly. Continue reading
Black Confederate Fashion by H.K. Edgerton
A few months ago I had a conversation with Alan Levinovitz, who teaches at James Madison University. As a new member of the community there were a number of things that struck Alan as strange and begging for explanation. At the top of the list is the local Dixie Outfitters store in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Alan asked if I could provide some context for the store’s presence and stock, especially those H.K. Edgerton t-shirts. The inquiry was in preparation for an article he was planning for the Los Angeles Review of Books.
The article is now online, which I highly recommend. A few of my comments about the myth of the black Confederate made it into the piece.
“People don’t believe in the black Confederate narrative because they’re crazy,” explains historian Kevin Levin. “They believe it because they read it. It’s on a website that looks professional, has all the bells and whistles, and includes images, primary sources of all kinds. How could it not be true?”
Levin’s long-running blog, Civil War Memory, is on the front lines in a battle between established historians and a vocal minority who insist that most academics are biased liberals bent on slandering the South. Dixie Outfitters is a part of this minority, and its company website includes a history section with over eighty links to information about black Confederates.
Read the rest of the essay here.
Here is the second part of Patrick Young’s guest post on the Virginia Flaggers. Today Brooks Simpson explains Flagger founder Susan Hathaway’s silence. It’s a doozy.
4. Adding to the need for those who support the preservation of the chapel to reconsider the conflictive approach taken by the Virginia Flaggers is the inherent marginality of the site itself. It is a memorial. Essentially, nothing happened here.
People want to preserve battlefields because they are places where something happened. Ford’s Theater and the Lorraine Motel are filled with people pointing out where the assassins stood. People visit these places and imagine what they would have seen in 1863, or 1865 or 1968. They fire the historical imagination. What do people imagine when they go into the chapel? Men at prayer? Continue reading