Teaching Confederate Monuments, Historical Memory

In tandem with the first post in a discussion series dedicated to following ongoing contests, debates, and discussions surrounding Confederate monuments named Confederate Symbols in Monument and Memory, teaching resources that investigate and contextualize the erection of monuments to Civil War participants provide a framework for teaching and learning.

The Southern Poverty Law Center's February 2019 update of the 2016 report "Whose Heritage? Public Monuments of the Confederacy" notes that though many public symbols of the Confederacy located on public ground were removed in the wake of the events in Charleston 2015, "1,747 Confederate monuments, place names and other symbols" remain today. The report investigates several types of symbols, including the flag, monuments, and place markers, but also places their commemoration within a historical context, using visualizations to illustrate the span of time between the conclusion of the Civil War and dedication of many locations. Further, means by which threads of white supremacist ideology inherent to the Confederate platform--boasted by Alexander Stephens and others--persist in city codification and social practice are highlighted.

Cameron D. Lippard's "Heritage or hate? A pedagogical guide to the Confederate flag in post-race America," provides one example of how a structured debate about the meaning of historical monuments to Confederate soldiers or the Confederacy, and discussions about historical memory and production, might be primed. Lippard emphasizes the importance of context, challenges several myths, and provides a guide for organizing structured debate within a classroom or learning environment. Read The Educational Resources Information Center's (ERIC.ed.gov) review and access a link to the article online, here.

There are a surprisingly few comprehensive works available that synthesize the contextual history of Confederate monuments and symbols and with frameworks or guides for bringing this material into classrooms and learning environments. In the present moment, where the ability to apply historical thinking to present conflicts is noticeably lacking among many in positions of decision-making power, and where the value of historical knowledge and the ability to think critically and independently is regularly under attack, the need for such resources is of increasing importance.

Any and all suggestions and recommendations are welcome and invited, as are any leads on resources of value to H-Slavery subscribers. Please share by contacting the network editors or posting a response to the Confederate Symbols in Monument and Memory discussion series.