Earlier today the New Orleans city council voted 6 to 1 to remove four Confederate monuments. The vote was preceded by a lengthy and heated public forum that you can see here. I decided early this morning to write up some thoughts assuming that the vote would go the way it did. You can read my essay at the Atlantic.
Regardless of your position, a good case can be made that this decision is the final act of our Civil War sesquicentennial.
Well, not exactly, but John Paul Strain’s latest effort at realism is the next best thing for those people upset with the recent removal of Confederate flags from the chapel room. It’s a curious print and while it may do well within a certain community Strain’s choices distorts the history and identity of Lee Chapel.
Yes, Edward Valentine’s beautiful marble recumbent statue depicts Lee in his military uniform, but as far as I know there are no other symbols of the former Confederacy present when the room was first dedicated. More problematic, however, is the addition of images of Stuart and Jackson on the rear panels. Strain makes it appear that their images have been etched into the panels, but as many of you know, they are in fact clear.
Lee’s burial site was not intended to be a Lost Cause shrine to the Confederacy and the flags that adorned the space, before they were removed last year, only arrived in the 1930s. In my mind the attempt at realism with the addition of Stuart and Jackson does a disservice to the purpose of the space and perhaps even the way Lee wanted to be remembered.
St. Paul’s Episcopal in Richmond has announced that it will remove many of the objects that venerate the Confederacy, including specifically those items featuring the Confederate flag. Items that will be removed include six plaques. Plaques honoring Davis’s wife and daughter will be modified as will the church’s coat of arms. The church also plans to erect a memorial to those slaves that were members of the community. [I wrote about the public history side of this controversy back in early October.] Continue reading “St. Paul’s Episcopal Takes a Stand on Confederate History and Memory”
Update: Thanks to those of you who pointed out my rookie mistake re: “the mountain top” reference in King’s speech. I guess it doesn’t really matter what speech of his they etch into that monument.
Over the summer, individuals and organizations protesting the removal of Confederate flags from public places gathered numerous times at Stone Mountain, Georgia in view of its relief monument to Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis. Protesters may think twice about doing so in the future since it was announced that a monument to Martin Luther King, Jr. and a museum exhibit about the service of United States Colored Troops will be funded with visitor entrance and parking fees. Continue reading “MLK Soon To Top Stone Mountain”
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”