Why African Americans will never accept the black Confederate myth: “If, for example, one managed to change the curriculum in all the schools so that Negroes learned more about themselves and their real contributions to this culture, you would be liberating not only Negroes, you’d be liberating white people who know nothing about their own history. And the reason is that if you are compelled to lie about one aspect of anybody’s history, you must lie about it all. If you have to lie about my real role here, if you have to pretend that I hoed all that cotton just because I loved you, then you have done something to yourself. You are mad.” — James Baldwin, “A Talk to Teachers” (1963)
Here are a couple of updates that I thought you might find interesting. The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star published my response to a recent editorial by Calvin Crollier and Kevin Crowder. The paper decided to title it, “Black Confederate Soldiers? In Your Dreams“, which I thought was kind of funny. In a little over a week I will travel to Richmond to take part in the annual meeting of the Association For the Study of African American Life and History. I will take part in a panel organized by Emmanuel Dabney, titled “Black Confederates in the Civil War: History, Myth, Memory, and Make-Believe”, which will also include Ervin Jordan and Jaime Martinez. I recently learned that C-SPAN will cover the conference so there is a chance that you may be able to catch this at some point. This should be a lively session.
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This morning I learned that my co-authored essay on Silas Chandler with Myra Chandler Sampson will be published in the February 2012 issue of Civil War Times magazine. This just so happens to be the magazine’s 50th anniversary issue and I couldn’t be more pleased that we will be part of the celebration.
This little project has been in the works for quite some time, but it is one of the most important to me. The essay grew out of a series of blog posts over the past year that I hoped would begin to correct the historical record as it relates to the subject of black Confederates. Better yet, it led me to Myra Chandler Sampson, who happens to be Silas’s great granddaughter. Myra discovered me through the blog in the course of her own tireless quest to correct the historical record of her ancestor. She placed enough trust in me to send along a wonderful collection of archival sources, which greatly enriched my own understanding of Silas’s life as well as the rest of the family’s history through the 20th century.
Between the upcoming History Detectives episode on Silas and our own article it looks like we are one step closer to Myra’s goal of honoring her ancestor in a way that more closely reflects the available historical record.
This morning I learned that I will be speaking on the subject of black Confederates at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, which will take place in Richmond in October. Thanks to National Park Service Ranger, Emmanuel Dabney, for putting together an excellent panel that will offer different perspectives on this subject. Proponents of this myth, who rush to cite Ervin Jordan as a supporter, ought to carefully read his session description.
It ought to be a well-attended session and the discussion will, no doubt, be entertaining. The conference as a whole promises to be quite interesting given that the theme is the Civil War and the Sesquicentennial. We don’t have a specific time for the session, but I will be sure to pass it on as more information becomes available.
Thanks once again to Andy Hall at Dead Confederates for once again taking the time to expose the house of cards that is the myth of the black Confederate soldier. This is another example of a website that purports to be educational, but is really nothing more than a list of names by state, most of which are clearly referenced as slaves – both body servants and impressed. There is almost no serious analysis nor is there any indication of the methodology utilized to order, catalog, and interpret the men listed. Somehow the facts are suppose to speak for themselves, whatever that means. The site is called Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education (SHAPE) and is run by George Purvis. You will also find such lists on other websites along with the same shoddy or limited analysis.
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The PBS show, History Detectives, has completed filming an episode on Silas Chandler in West Point, Mississippi. A few weeks ago I mentioned that I would be taking part in this show, but I recently learned that producers decided to take the story in a different direction and would not need my assistance. I was a bit disappointed, but ultimately I just hope they get the story right. Well, I have it on good authority that not only did they correct the mistakes made on the Antiques Road Show episode, but that investigators uncovered additional material that puts the nail in the coffin of the story that the Sons of Confederate Veterans and others have spread on their websites and other materials for years. The show is scheduled to air in July or August.
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