Few people are better positioned in former capital of the Confederacy to discuss its commemorative landscape than John Coski. I always enjoy listening to John talk about the history of the city that he loves and knows so well. This is a very accessible and though provoking discussion that explores the history and memory of Richmond’s Monument Avenue.
I added this video to my #CivilWarMemorySyllabus page, which includes a wide range of resources intended to assist educators and others who are interested in the ongoing debate about Confederate monuments as well as the relevant history. Those of you in the classroom, who will soon be teaching the Civil War-era and want to address this debate in some fashion, will find numerous op-eds, panel discussions, lectures, and primary sources.
Finally, I want to leave you with an interesting story out of Bolzano, Italy. In recent years the town has struggled with what to do with a frieze that includes Benito Mussolini located in one of its public buildings. Rather than remove it the city challenged the public to come up with creative ways to deal with what many people find offensive. The city chose well and offers a route that other communities may choose to implement in some fashion.
I suppose it’s too obvious to mention that the enormous size of the Monument Ave statues is itself a celebration of Virginia’s economic recovery after the CW – they built them that big to show they could afford to.
The meaning of the statues of Confederates is unambiguous because the subjects didn’t do anything much apart from fight for slavery. The statues of Union heroes commemorate, I take it, their leadership in the Civil War and not their sometimes controversial subsequent roles in the Indian Wars.
Coski’s talk is very interesting, especially in bringing out nuance and juxtaposing memorial work in the south with that in the north. He can choose to stop short of Charleston and Charlottesville, but I doubt that the rest of us can, or should make the attempt.
That’s an interesting idea, Kevin, although I wonder if there will be objections to using a quotation from Hannah Arendt, given her poor reputation among many Holocaust scholars. I’m kind of surprised that no one thought to select a quote from Primo Levi, given that he was an Italian (although it’s quite possible that was an entry).
The nice thing about this approach is that they can always substitute another quote. Just think what you could do at Stone Mountain.