Those of you living in Richmond, Virginia and surrounding communities may have heard a small explosion this morning. That was the sound of the neo-Confederate community waking up to learn that the Richmond school board voted to change the name of J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School to honor President Barack Obama. Continue reading
Few people are better positioned in former capital of the Confederacy to discuss its commemorative landscape than John Coski. I always enjoy listening to John talk about the history of the city that he loves and knows so well. This is a very accessible and though provoking discussion that explores the history and memory of Richmond’s Monument Avenue.
I added this video to my #CivilWarMemorySyllabus page, which includes a wide range of resources intended to assist educators and others who are interested in the ongoing debate about Confederate monuments as well as the relevant history. Those of you in the classroom, who will soon be teaching the Civil War-era and want to address this debate in some fashion, will find numerous op-eds, panel discussions, lectures, and primary sources.
Finally, I want to leave you with an interesting story out of Bolzano, Italy. In recent years the town has struggled with what to do with a frieze that includes Benito Mussolini located in one of its public buildings. Rather than remove it the city challenged the public to come up with creative ways to deal with what many people find offensive. The city chose well and offers a route that other communities may choose to implement in some fashion.
This has been one hell of a week. I have done more media interviews over the past few days than I have over the past decade. In addition to interviews I have written numerous op-eds, including this one for Smithsonian Magazine. Today I am finishing up a piece for the Atlantic, which asked me to track the evolution of my own thinking about this debate since 2011. More importantly, I am beginning to schedule visits with schools to offer advice on how to engage students about this subject. Continue reading
Last night the Richmond Monument Avenue Commission held its first public forum at the Virginia Historical Society. It went about as well as I predicted. You can read about it here, here, and here. The commission went into this meeting hoping to steer the discussion away from removal to what it describes as a “middle-of-the-road” solution. The audience appeared to largely ignore the direction and I can’t say that I blame them. At its heart this discussion is about deeply-held beliefs about history, heritage, and community identity. Continue reading
Update: Mayor Stoney’s full remarks can be found here.
This is an interesting development. Today the mayor of Richmond announced the creation of the Monument Avenue Commission, which will examine ways to add historical context to its Confederate monuments. A few weeks ago I suggested that Richmond will likely not follow other cities like New Orleans and this announcement today suggests that I may have been right. Continue reading
Update: An extended version of this post is now available at Smithsonian Magazine.
A number of things happened today that has me thinking about Richmond, Virginia and the ongoing debate about Confederate monuments.
First, I had a conversation with a reporter from The Richmond Times-Dispatch about this debate. We talked about a number of things before we got around to the question of whether Richmond will follow other cities in deciding to remove monuments to the Confederacy and Confederate leaders. I suggested that it is unlikely. Continue reading
This is a wonderful example illustrating the difference between genuine concern about the public display of Confederate iconography and using it as a political football. Richmond mayoral candidate, Joe Morrissey, recently made news for announcing that if he wins he would push for the removal of the Jefferson Davis monument on Monument Avenue. Continue reading
Thanks to the Civil War Trust for hosting another incredible teacher institute in Richmond, Virginia. While this is my 5th year with the Trust it’s been a couple of years since my last visit. I especially enjoyed the chance to catch up with old friends and spend time with some of the most passionate teachers you will find in classrooms from across the country.
It was also a chance to return to my former home. I had a chance to do some research at the Virginia Historical Society and Library of Virginia and spend a few hours at the Museum of the Confederacy/American Civil War Museum. Continue reading