60 Minutes: Confederate Monuments

This stack of papers…..this stack of papers…

I’m definitely one of those teachers. I love teaching; I hate grading papers. I’m sure there are more of us than not. Regardless, I keep giving writing assignments to my students. Call me crazy, but I’d rather see students reflect on what they learned rather than circle answers. There is a lot to be said for this type of self reflection. Yesterday my AP U.S. History students concluded a unit on the American Civil War and Reconstruction with an exam…something I am currently grading. As a bookend to the unit I gave them something fresh. 

As reported elsewhere, 60 minutes ran a brilliant segment on the ongoing debate surrounding Confederate Monuments. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. I decided to give it to my AP students as a bit of a reflection assignment. It was an opportunity to take the lessons of history and reflect on how these lessons can inform decisions in the present. To help them, I provided students with guided questions to encourage analysis of each segment and subject in the report.

Let me know what you think of the questions or if you would any or subtract any. I’m looking forward to the responses. Until then [looks scornfully at stack of essays]…get over here beautiful.



7 thoughts on “60 Minutes: Confederate Monuments

  1. I have not watched the 60 Minutes article as I really have no use for the news medias opinion of such monuments. There are several monuments in the Ringgold area like the Cleburne monument and a monument to the General. It seems you are rather obscure in your opinions. I am sure you may be focusing on your work. It seems to me there is an organized attempt by a group called ANTIFA and the SPLC to remove these monuments like the monument to General Johnston In Dalton. Renaming street names and destroying this monuments will accomplish what exactly?

    1. Well, to each his/her own. I’d highly recommend having an open mind about these things and especially this clip. I can tell you that it does not include very many opinions of the media but instead focuses on the opinions of people in the communities in which these monuments are located.

      I think you might be the first person to accuse my opinions as being obscure. Maybe you should read my previous posts on this topic. Check out the post “Brief Comments on Monument Removal.”

      I’m not aware of any groups that have mounted an serious opposition to Confederate Monuments that are not first and foremost centered on the local communities. NOLA is an excellent example of that, perhaps you can elaborate on that?

      As far as removal and renaming: as a white male from the South it impacts me very little I’d imagine. However, for people of color these monuments often represent symbols of a racial animosity casting an unwelcoming shadow. For thousands of people, they are a not so subtle reminder of inequality. Personally I think these monuments are better utilized inside of museums or contextualized at the very least. However, it should always be up to the communities as to what they want to do with their landscape. We have no right to bound future generations to our icons than previous generations have the right to bound us to theirs.

      1. “…for people of color these monuments often represent symbols of a racial animosity casting an unwelcoming shadow.”

        This is a lie concocted in recent years by leftist politicians and academics to promote the removal and/or destruction of Confederate monuments. Unfortunately, you bought the lie. Northerners put up monuments in memory of those lost in a war. Are we to assume those in the South did not have the same motives and sentiments?

        Unveiling of the Lee monument, Richmond, Va.:

        Do the black people in this photo look “unwelcome?”-

        A witness to the event said that thousands (probably tens of thousands) of black people attended the parade and ceremonies (Richmond Dispatch, June 1, 1890).

        1. I’m sorry you think so.

          It’s not a lie, and it certainly was not concocted in recent times either. We have a plethora of examples that closely tie Jim Crow segregation laws based on white supremacy to the erection of these memorials.

          Take for example the newspaper article from Abbeville, South Carolina dated 1906 entitled “Harbison Negro College Closed.” The article states:

          On the occasion of the unveiling of the Confederate monument negroes go so boisterous that it was necessary to knock a few in the head and run others out of town and it is said a riot was narrowly averted.

          The statement by Wiley Nash, a Confederate Veteran speaking at a monument dedication in 1908 in Mississippi stated:

          Like the watch fires kindled along the coast of Greece that leaped in ruddy joy to tell that Troy had fallen, so these Confederate monuments, these sacred memorials, tell in silent but potent language, that the white people of the South shall rule and govern the Southern states forever.

          Who can forget Julian Carr’s statement at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill during another monument dedication:

          I trust I may be pardoned for one allusion, howbeit it is rather personal. One hundred yards from where we stand, less than ninety days perhaps after my return from Appomattox, I horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady, and then rushed for protection to these University buildings where was stationed a garrison of 100 Federal soldiers.

          So what lie exactly am I buying?

          Northerners put up monuments in memory of those lost in a war. Are we to assume those in the South did not have the same motives and sentiments?

          I never made such an argument – the monument in Savannah, Georgia is a great example of such. But to suggest a disconnect between that and maintenance of Jim Crow is simple willful ignorance and I’m not going to indulge in that.

          There is a well documented past of black men showing up to statue dedications and reunions for various reasons. They were often treated as mascots by former Confederates – a treatment they themselves highlighted in their Confederate Veteran periodical. Often African-Americans capitalized on this. Regardless, your photograph does very little to disprove what I said above.

          Who are those men? Why are they there? Were the coerced, working, etc? Why are all of the Black men at the bottom of the photo with the children? The photo presents more questions then answers.

      2. You may not be aware but last month the Anderson Cemetery was vandalized along with tombstones. I am not sure how the General(The Train) or Cleburne will be contextualized. Ringgold and Catoosa played a role in the war and frankly I feel we should embrace history and not erase history. I feel these monuments have not impacted anyone. If anything more monuments need to be put up to recognize people of all races who contributed. NOLA was a perfect example of politics at play where Landrieu used this as a launching pad for his political career. You may notice the monument removal did nothing for the citizens of NOLA, created more strife and division costing the taxpayers thousands while works of art are sitting not in a museum but a utility garage.

        1. There is a lot meshed into a paragraph so I’m going to do the best I can to respond.

          I am aware of the vandalism, but I’m not sure what that has to do with anything in this post. Perhaps you could revisit that point?

          As far as the General (The Train) and Cleburne’s contextualization; perhaps that is a dialogue worth having. I certainly think so. As someone who I assume is from Ringgold [you], and someone who grew up in Ringgold [me], perhaps that is something worth discussing.

          I also favor embracing history, not erasing it. But many monuments tell a misleading story about an otherwise unfortunate historical episode. Contextualization can go a long way in adding to that history and dispelling myths.

          I think people of color would disagree that the monuments have not impacted anyone.

        2. About Contextualization:

          I have a paper on file at the Catoosa County Historical Society about Patrick Cleburne and the proposal to arm slaves -which spends time focusing on the marker by his statue and the HQ building in Dalton (name escapes me at the moment). It’s short, 7 1/2 pages. It should be in a gray file holder with a few other papers under my name. Check it out.

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