Black Confederates Attract Tourist Dollars

Thanks to a reader for passing along the Prince William County/Manassas, Virginia Tourism Guide for 2010-11.  I have no idea what went into the decision to feature a young black male in what appears to be a Confederate uniform.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing historically inaccurate about such a representation, though he is probably too young to be a body servant.  The more important issue has to do with the intended message behind this image.  I would love to know if anyone on the editorial team is aware of the recent textbook controversy involving claims of thousands of black Confederates serving under Stonewall Jackson’s command.

The choice of cover also raises interesting questions surrounding the demographic that the tourism bureau is hoping to attract.  It suggests something more than an attempt at inclusiveness; it suggests that tourist officials believe African Americans will be hitting the roads for Civil War destinations over the next few years.  We shall see.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

12 comments… add one
  • Gregg Jones Nov 14, 2012 @ 16:51

    Last, the PWC/Manassas CVB is run by good people. They would not stoop to hyping such a product. The Director is Ms Ann Marie Gourley Maher who is a very ethical person and would never stoop to photo shoping a black confederate for the cover a their wonderful magazine. The have been hailed as the best and have received awards for their good work and success in developing tourism in this area. Seriously guys, you have it very wrong.

    Gregg Jones

    • Kevin Levin Nov 14, 2012 @ 18:02

      For the record, I am not in any way suggesting that the PWC/Manassas CVB is not run by good people. In fact, this post is not meant as an attack or intended to insult anyone. If you read it carefully you will see that I acknowledge why they may have chosen this particular image.

  • Gregg Jones Nov 14, 2012 @ 16:32

    He is not a photo shop product. He was not set up as a Black Confederate.

  • Gregg Jones Nov 14, 2012 @ 16:18

    Your insults are noted. The young man rides with the Black Horse Troop out of Prince William County. He is original, a young gentleman and not a photo shop. He rides well. He is a good student and an overall wonderful person that adds to a community instead of taking from it. I won’t bring his name but I wlll pass on your insult to his friends and family. He never was labeled Black. His father is Cherokee. Shame on you.

    Gregg Jones

    • Kevin Levin Nov 14, 2012 @ 16:21

      Thanks for the comment, but I am not sure what exactly you are interpreting as an insult.

  • Rob Apr 16, 2011 @ 17:59

    Ok…just saw all of this. I work in PWC, this is image is from two years ago at the Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre Civil War Weekend. The young man was NOT photo shopped in (as I know him personally) nor is he black. He is of mixed race of Latin American and Caucasian. His family participates in a Confederate cavalry group in Virginia and this image was used because it was a kid interested in history. His family is really great and the young man is a great kid who has an interest in the Civil War. They portray BOTH sides of the war. NO ONE on the editing staff ever put ANY thought into his race when using the image. I know those people well and I can tell you that never came up Nor has ANYONE in the community raised this issue at all. That is probably because most people see people as people, not skin color. I am sorry Kevin, I usually respect your blog, but on this issue…you could not be more off base or wrong.

  • Jonathan Dresner Apr 10, 2011 @ 20:25

    I’m pretty sure the kid’s been photoshopped in: the shadows look wrong. The kid’s illuminated from the right, but the horse in the background is clearly getting sun from the left/front. and there’s no way that he’s supposed to represent anything other than an African American Confederate cavalryman, though he’s awfully young (and that gear doesn’t seem to fit him all that well)….

    • Kevin Levin Apr 11, 2011 @ 1:26

      I didn’t look carefully enough. Anyone else see that?

  • Arleigh Birchler Apr 10, 2011 @ 12:51

    He did not look African American to me, either, when I first looked at it. Even looking very closely I am not sure if I would guess he is African American. I would think about several other dark skinned ethnic groups. Hard to read the writing, but I don’t see anything about the War Between the States, or about Confederates. I guess with the sholder straps that could be a Confederate jacket, but I would think it could also be several other things.

    I am sure I am missing a lot of details, but if I had just seen it without any introduction I would have thought it was just a young man (older boy) sitting near some horses.

    • Kevin Levin Apr 10, 2011 @ 13:11

      The boy is clearly from a mixed racial background. This is the cover of an issue devoted almost entirely to the Civil War Sesquicentennial. This is a Civil War image.

  • Richard Apr 10, 2011 @ 11:06

    Is he black, or has he just spent a lot of time in the sun? I honestly can’t tell from that picture. I guess the more I look at it, it is not just a tan, but I’m not sure it is that obvious. Maybe that’s just me though

    You may be right in that editors found a picture of a black male and intentionally chose to use it in order to try to attract others of his race, but isn’t it also possible they just found it to be a good picture, especially with the horse in the picture, almost staring at the camera? He’s young, he’s Confederate, there is an animal there – those all could are attractive elements for a cover photo. Maybe I’m being very naive by thinking they’re not trying to use race though.

    • Kevin Levin Apr 10, 2011 @ 11:16

      I think it is important to keep in mind that this was published by the local tourism bureau so I suspect that nothing was left to chance. Think of the images of key sites in the area that could have been utilized and the choice of this particular image begs for explanation. I honestly don’t know why it was chosen.

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