Southern History and Civil Rights in the News
4 December 2020
This week marks the 65th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, AL bus, launching the Montgomery Bus Boycott. As we noted last week, public transportation has a long history in the civil rights movement, and The News Gazette, of Champaign, IL, commemorates the anniversary of the start of the boycott, but also details many of the previous attempts to desegregate public transit. You can read that here. The US Air Force News also ran a story on Parks this week, detailing the unveiling of a memorial statue on Maxwell AFB in Montgomery where Parks and her husband had worked during the 1940s. In addition to the statue, the ceremony also kicked off a 382-day partnership (marking the length of the Boycott) between the base and the city focused on diversity and inclusion so that everyone, civilian and airmen alike, can “rise to their best.” Read that coverage here. In another tribute, buses in Tyler, Texas reserved the first seat in each bus for Ms. Parks on the anniversary date, as noted here.
SRQ Magazine of Sarasota, FL has a report this week about Into the Storm, a student-made film that tells the story of the 1966-1967 Booker High School Basketball team. After a second place finish the previous year, the group had dreams of a state championship, but those were threatened by the desegregation of local schools, a move made by the white school board in an effort to thwart a black team’s chances at winning the title. You can read that story here.
In another intersection of southern history and education, The Montgomery Advertiser is running a series of articles about how history has been taught in the South, and the various methods that culminated in Confederate education, as well as efforts to make necessary changes. You can read the first two articles, here and here. The Tennessean also looked at the way that southern history has been interpreted at local landmarks, and the way that that has been changing of late. You can read that here.
And finally, The Christian Science Monitor reports that Richmond’s last statue on Monument Ave., the towering Robert E Lee equestrian figure, may be facing its last days as a public memorial. The lawsuit filed to block the governor’s order to remove the statue failed in October, and though the case is not closed, no appeals have been filed. Over the last six months, the space around the statue has become “reclaimed territory” with protestors making that space their own, taking it back from the Lost Cause mythology that permeated Monument Ave., as noted in the article, here.
Until next week, stay well,
Michele “Scout” Johnson
This series of weekly posts to H-South, “Southern History and Civil Rights in the News,” aims to track informed public discussions of southern history and civil rights. To recommend a reading, please email Dr. Michele Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.