Jim Crow

Update: After you finish reading this post check out Brooks Simpson’s thoughtful response to Gordon-Reed’s essay. One of the most common tropes embraced in reference to the post- Civil War period is the idea of a ‘white Northern retreat from Reconstruction.’  For many, the shift occurred during the mid to late 1870s for a number Read more

Welcome to 1864

This morning I was reminded that today is the first day of the sesquicentennial of the War in 1864. As I alluded to this past spring, it is going to be very interesting to see how the final sixteen months of the war will be commemorated and remembered. There are practical issues of funding, but Read more

The next episode of PBS’s The African Americans airs on Tuesday night. The African American in antebellum times was, as the stereotype held, reliable, faithful, hardworking, malleable. Indeed, one entrusted one’s children, one’s property to such people. Now, of a sudden, the African American becomes demonized, a threat, a lascivious beast roaming the countryside of Read more

It’s always interesting to watch politicians distort the past for their own purposes.  This week Elbert Guillory decided to switch from the Democratic to the Republican Party. As he explains in this short video, he did so based on his understanding of the broad political history of race. Why he only recently came to some Read more

Many of you have viewed the Open Yale Course on the Civil War and Reconstruction taught by David Blight.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to take a survey course with one of the nation’s most respected Civil War scholars.  I am currently making my way through Professor Jonathan Holloway’s course, African American History: From Emancipation to Read more

Looks like the Virginia General Assembly has been busy with resolutions about the Civil War era.  Last week I shared Sen. Henry Marsh’s resolution that would set aside a day to honor Abraham Lincoln and today I bring to you another resolution sponsored by Marsh that would honor black Virginians, who served in state government Read more

Triumph, Not Trauma

There is an interesting article over at Psychology Today, if only because it takes a different perspective on the controversy surrounding Confederate History Month.  Molly Costelloe Fong suggests that Governor McDonnell’s proclamation may have certain psychological effects within the black community owing to the long-term legacy of slavery: When one group deliberately inflicts suffering on Read more

Who Won the Civil War?

The first day with my two sections of the Civil War Memory course went quite well.  Both sections are incredibly enthusiastic and, for the most part, seem to be interested in the subject.  After going over the basic outline of the course, including my expectations, we dove in and explored the question of who won Read more

How Close Are We?

“I see dead people.” The Sixth Sense (1999) According to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown “we’re just two lifetimes removed from [the] ugly history of slavery.”  That acknowledgment seems to play an important role as Brown deals with the fallout surrounding the discovery that his ancestors were slaveowners.  What was once abstract becomes personal and Read more