“Brag Bowling, SCV member and Director of the Stephen D. Lee Institute, and Southern Poverty Law Center Research Director Mark Potok represent two sides of the contentious debate over a large and looming question: what was the Civil War really fought over?” As far as I can tell neither of them possesses any serious knowledge of Civil War history. They are, however, quite entertaining. The following clip is from an upcoming documentary titled, The Lost Cause: An Old War in the New South.
Not too long ago I received an email from a public historian who works at a plantation site in South Carolina asking whether he should accept a speaking invitation from the Sons of Confederate Veterans:
While I am much more interested in how many t-shirts H.K. Edgerton sold, I would remiss if I didn’t note for the record that the City Council of Lexington voted last night to maintain the ordinance preventing the display of the Confederate flag on city street poles. The Sons of Confederate Veterans have made a big deal about this, but the issue was never whether the flag could be displayed in parades and other venues. In fact, the ordinance doesn’t change much of anything in terms of the visibility of the flag.
Today the city council in Lexington, Virginia will vote on a controversial ordinance that would ban display of Confederate flags on Main Street. As many of you know, Lexington is the burial place of Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee and the home of the Virginia Military Institute. The city is steeped in Confederate history. The local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is staging a parade to encourage the city to strike down the ordinance. To help out they are bringing in some heavy guns, including everyone’s favorite black Confederate, H.K. Edgerton. Edgerton started out early this morning outside of Lexington on a roughly ten mile hike in uniform and waving his Confederate flag. I’m sure he created quite a spectacle and I have no doubt that his address in front of the city council later tonight will cause quite a stir.
Quick Thought: I think what this shows is that the black Confederate myth is a response to a shift in popular culture rather than a response to developments in scholarship. That should not be a surprise. After all, proponents of this myth don’t read scholarly books; rather, they talk to one another on Facebook pages about “revisionism,” “political correctness,” etc.
I’ve suggested that the catalyst for the most recent incarnation of the black Confederate myth can be traced to the 1989 release of the movie, “Glory.” Well, it looks like I may need to push that back a bit by roughly 12 years. It should not come as a surprise that highly successful television series, “Roots” pushed some in the Sons of Confederate Veterans to make a conscious effort to correct what they perceived to be a distorted view of Southern history as well as the Confederate war effort.
Thanks to Asa Hines Gordon for publishing this material Online. I’ve met Asa at a few conferences. He is a passionate spokesman for the history and memory of black Union soldiers. Of course, I need to confirm the sources, but consider the following excerpts from the Reports of the Adjutant-in-Chief of the SCV: