A Symposium on Confederate Monuments

You can now view the five talks and panel discussion from yesterday’s annual symposium, “Lightning Rods of Controversy: Civil War Monuments Past, Present, and Future,” sponsored by the American Civil War Museum in Richmond.

The symposium is helpful if you are looking for an introduction to the history of monuments and the more recent controversy surrounding their removal/relocation in different places. I particularly enjoyed Thomas Brown’s presentation, which explored the evolution of one type of Confederate monument.

The only disappointment was the presence of the same group of older white people that you see at all of these events. A more diverse audience would have led to a much more interesting Q&A. Some of the more uncomfortable moments between speaker and audience were predictable given the the make-up of the audience. It’s a tough nut to crack and I certainly do not fault the American Civil War Museum.

It would perhaps be more of a problem, but for the fact that Richmond has been quite good about facilitating city-wide discussions about its monument landscape.

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“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

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3 comments… add one
  • Bob Huddleston Mar 3, 2017 @ 9:49

    I just saw this about an appeal to the US Supreme Court by Japanese-Americans opposing a statue in Glendale, CA remembering WWII Korean “Comfort Women.” Among others, the Japanese government has filed an amicus curiae brief, supporting efforts to remove the statue. Monument controversy with an international flavor! Among other issues, many of the comments to the article sound very familiar!


  • Patrick Young Feb 26, 2017 @ 19:38

    The second questioner in the Christy Coleman segment says that none of the Charlottesville city council members are “from Charlottesville.” Does that city really let people hold office who don’t live in the city?

    • Kevin Levin Feb 27, 2017 @ 2:35

      What he was complaining about is that their families do not go back two, three and four generations as his does. It’s such a silly line of thinking. That is not really the issue. If the city council had voted his way the number of years they had lived in the city or their families place of origin would be irrelevant. The overall picture is rather simplistic in its assumptions that southern cities have been static until relatively recent.

      Nice to hear from you.

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