This Cruel War is a blog dedicated to studying the Civil War, it’s causes and repercussions. While these “repercussions” are generally noted as events taking place during Reconstruction or the Jim Crow era, in actuality, the repercussions of the Civil War are still being felt today. From the debate over the use of the Confederate Battle Flag to how to interpret slavery and lynchings, as a nation we are still working through the war that ended over 150 years ago.
Over the past week or so, these are the stories which I have been following.
Rally and Counter-Protest over the Confederate Flag in Gettysburg
Confederate Flag supporters and counter-protesters met at Gettysburg on Saturday, March 4. Originally slated as a commemoration for a so-called Confederate Flag Day, they met near the Eternal Light Peace Memorial to give speeches and pledges to the flag. Supporters claimed that the flag never had anything to do with racism or hate, while the counter-protesters strongly disagreed. “It’s bad history,” said Scott Hancock, a professor of history and African studies at Gettysburg College. “You can’t find a legitimate historian today who would agree with that. And part of it is because the leaders of the Confederacy, from every state, made it quite clear that they were fighting to protect slavery.” More here, here, and here.
Newly Restored ‘Race Films’ to be Re-released in July
Over a doze films produced and starring black Americans were recently restored by Kino, a company well known for its expertise in film restoration. Generally made between the First and Second World Wars, these films were largely a response to Birth of a Nation and the general racism of Hollywood. They’ll be released on digital and Blu-Ray in July. Several will be screened in theaters, but you’ll have to be fairly lucky to catch them. In Seattle, we get to see eight of them in March and April at the Grand Illusion Cinema. More about them here.
Providence, Rhode Island to Memorialize Local Slavery
The Providence city council has agreed to support the effort to place markers throughout the city remembering their role in the Atlantic Slave Trade. This is part of the Middle Passage Project. More here. More about the project here.
Can the Confederate Flag Bring Two Conflicting Neighbors Together?
In New Hampshire, it seems, two men can have incredibly different views of the Confederate flag and still be able to hold a relatively rational and friendly discussion and debate about it. Kenny Rogers (not the country singer) wants to fly the rebel flag. Sam Smith, however, sees it as a symbol against his race. Though Smith contacted the city authorities, it was to tell them that he planned on talking to Rogers himself. What followed was an hour-long conversation about discrimination, race, and history that neither expected. Read it here.
Missouri Newspaper Reports on Lynching from 1931
Historian Wayne Mahood delves into his family’s history surrounding the lynching of Raymond Gunn. A white mob stormed his jail cell before his murder trial could begin, took him to the scene of the crime, hung him up, and burned him alive – taking the entire building with him. Members of the mob later returned to claim souvenirs such as Gunn’s teeth. More here.
Rediscovering the Modern KKK
The Klan has been making quite a bit of news lately. Find out here what’s going on with the modern-era KKK. And take a look at why the Klan is so strongly supporting a certain presidential candidate here.
Anti-Confederate Flag Protest in Durango, Colorado
After the Confederate Flag Day ride from Durango was changed to a secret location at the last minute, counter-protesters decided to go ahead with their planned CS flag protest anyway. About sixty-five showed up, held signs, and expressed their opinions to local media. The ride either did not happen or received no publicity. More here.
Georgia Middle School Nixes Slavery and the Holocaust from its Classes
Fearing the the Holocaust and slavery might be subjects too intense for middle schoolers, one Georgia district decided to simply not mention either. Students and teachers alike spoke out against the changes. More here.
Ohio Historical Society Remembers 1924 Klan Riot
In the town of Niles, Ohio, 25,000 Klansmen were met by 10,000 anti-Klan protesters. The conflagration that followed made national news. Recently, photos from the event were donated to the local Historical Society. Rather than burying their sordid past, they accepted it, presenting it at one of their meetings. More here.
Mississippi Flag to Be Taken Down… in Oregon
All fifty state flags adorn the area around Oregon’s capitol in Salem. With Mississippi’s refusal to change their flag, which has the Confederate Battle Flag within it, Oregon lawmakers have decided that it must be run down until the changes are made. The state legislature reached out to their Mississippi counterparts, but have heard nothing in reply. More here.
Movie about the KKK Being Filmed for Amazon
Joseph Gordon Levitt is developing a film about the United States soldiers who dealt with the early Ku Klux Klan immediately following the Civil War. It’s still quite a ways from production and release, but certainly something to keep our eyes on. More here.