tv Controversy over General Robert E. Lee Monuments CSPAN April 15, 2017 6:00pm-6:46pm EDT
historians edna green medford, douglas brinkley norton smith discuss presidential leadership. >> it is interesting that the president,erican abraham lincoln, is bracketed by the least successful american presidents. >> this holiday weekend on c-span. civil war, ervin jordan talks about civil war and memorials. constructedn thoses to honor robert e. lee. he spoke at a symposium on the over civil war monuments hosted by the american richmond,museum in virginia. this is about 45 minutes. >> specialist in civil war and bestan american history,
known in the community as the book calledfabulous "black confederates and afro-yankees in civil war virginia." out 22 years ago and it's still the best scholarly work on the subject. professor jordan has served on numerous advisory and good boards, including the thed of the museum of confederatesy. jamestownhe's on the yorktown foundation board of trustees, the jamestown yorktown commemoration9 committee. president's commission on slavery at the university of the gettysburg
foundation board of directors. professor jordan is often called speak andnsult, comment on history-related warent events such as civil monuments. willppearance today discuss the controversy over the in charlottesville. mostrt e. lee, america's honored traitor." please help me welcome professor jordan. [applause] professor jordan: good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. the invitation to be here today. fellow scholars, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, i appreciate my friend dr. john take no for an answer invitation to address this symposium.
i also thank my late beloved parents who during the civil war centennial nurtured by dream of by buying historian my first book. a pulitzer prize winning later described the tenure as the oddest, most and strained commemoration in american history. war statues invoke defied gravitas. there are an estimated 13,000 private and federal civil war memorials in the contestedtes, most sites intersecting race, memory and comomeration are in dixie. often in american history, statues in civic spaces been weaponized as a means are empowerment, exclusion or impression.
they politicize racial attitudes times whose implications resonate still locally, nationally and globally. my lecture concern the culture confederaterace and memorization, public spaces, and lee.t e. aftermath meant different perspectives. andthe north, vindication for the south, defeat with honor. for african americans, vindication of freedom and citizenship. however, were lee and other confederates racistetrators? they be demoted and mythologized from the pantheon of american heroes by the removal of their monuments? are fundamental questions. last year in richmond, protestors engaged in anti-trump, anti-racism
demonstrations. monuments were vandalized and tagged k.k.k. protestor quoted archbishopituteoit. "if you are neutral in situations of unjust, you have side of the aggressor." -- our nation is sharply divided about its past and future. so-calledemoval of racist images provide closure or deepen the rift? deservederate monuments a place? civic spaces? opportunities for pragmatic considerations why the a social is still hornets nest. post-modern shaping of political pro slaveryates secessionists. descendants,
multigenerational, white working southerners, resent deemization of themselves, their forebears. -- there seems to be no middle ground. perhapssentation will raise more questions than hopefully provide a candid dialogue about this topic. in the words of one african historian, we call got history. movie,logue for the 1993 gettysburg," known to some of us profession as gettys beard, stated, lee served until war, almost two perhaps the died most beloved general in american history.
eisenhower, colin powell and norman schwarzkopf? confederacy's foremost lee,st claimed that only jackson were adored by troops. one soldier voiced adoration of lee, "this army loves their every many of them, as much as a child loves his father and feels that affirmative -- affection and respect for him." undoubtedly, this audience is familiar with the robert e. lee mystique. virginiarsity of 800 entries ons martine. lee and 500 on luther king. lee is etched across the landscape. americans have two images of lee in their mind's eye, the
impassive warrior frozen in time on horseback or as making peace signing the army of northern virginia's surrender confederacy's death warrant, the beginning of his unique makeover from foe to hero. somewhere jefferson davis is envious. [laughter] ervin: posterity handled lee's a civil war hero. as america's most honored traitor, lee's example is that one can experience defeat with losing, and need not be right to be great. his reputation is based largely on national gratitude for what winid not do, which is
confederate independence and guerrilla endorse resistance against authority. there is evidence of his declining influence. of virginian historians named john marshall 19th century greatest virginian. lee was a very distant runner-up. lee's imagery extends across america's collective consciousness. enshrinement at the leigh mostle as the south's revered war icon. generals lee and grant are symbolic on a civil war commissioned commemorative medal was in the movie "gettysburg" whose television tvmiere garnered a cable record audience. poignantlye plate
stonewallee and ofkson as figures christianity and protectors of children. hero in novels such as "guns of the south" in which he leads to independence with time travel. south's defining historical experience. southerners war, convinced themselves it was dispensable. lee freed treated slaves with harsh disdain and was at best a surrogate emanc parrot who, days before the proclamation went into effect,
reluctantly complied with the will of his late father-in-law dutifully eminence waiting orderedes whom custer free five years after his death. families took lee as their surname after they were freed. interview, wesley recalled thely real character of the man and and his family ach whipped 50 lashes for failed escape attempt. they were shipped to alabama richmondturning to from where north made his escape in 1863. toying that lee was kind slaves, north offered to produce a dozen black or white witnesses who could verify his statements.
the evidence, lee was a product of his state, social class and race, although use the n word, he remained a life-long white supremacist and in 1868 meeting ex-confederate leaders, he opposed manifesto which black citizen voters. he advocated their deportation africa, following congress, it would be better for virginia if she could get rid of them. indicted for treason, lee applied for amnesty and citizenshipof his rights. the indictment was dropped a year before his 1870 death. century later, black america's greatest intellectual, dubois, deemed lee a traitor and fool because he led bloody war to perpetual slavery and helped maim and thousands. historian edward cooper's study arguedsecession period
that unlike other leading white male southerners, lee was not a traitor. here's the thing. if lee was not a traitor, why pardon?pply for a congress did not restore his 1975, 105p until years after his death. one does not need a pardon has done something wrong. moreover, in the course of human which is nobler, to perpetuation of human slavery or abolish it? confederacy won the civil war, african american heredity slavery would have continued into the 20th century. there are more statues of lee than any other confederate. among the most impressive is the inestrian statue unveiled richmond. he sits 14 feet high and the 60 feet high from its
base in a traffic circle at the of monument and allen avenues. the southern white folks is on bystandermayed black proclaimed, noting that the white workers hoisted it in top. on each of those red stars indicates a black worker who helped erect a monument there. lest we forget, afro virginia also erected monuments to war-time heroes. lincoln cemetery monument eloquently proclaims -- one of the most eloquent statements remembrance loving to the men who in the darkest kept alive they
goodness. 1920 monument said, to the heroes, the first recipientl of honor and until the 1990's, these were heronly black civil war monuments in the entire south. charlottesville, a racially segregated city of 10,000, leetedly embraced the idollization cult. a ku kluxearlier, klan parade was among the celebrations for the unveiling. president of virginia
alderman accepted this gift from paul macintyre on behalf of the and gushingly proclaimed lee a royal genius, of that community aboutbe fortunate in having that serene figure of virtue,. emancipationry nor was mentioned in alderman's golden age praised a romanticized version of the south and slavery. later, city council annualiated $300,000 in pensions for the widows of veterans.e last year's 2016 facebook 15-year-oldthen
black female charlottesville high school student calling for lee and jackson statues ignited a firestorm of confrontations of so-called flaggers versus a broader of remove the statue demonstrators in nose-to-nose, shouting matches at a lee park public rally. denouncedts activists whitee defenders as supremists. confederates insisted the monuments remain at all costs vilified their opponents as collaboratorsis and carpet bagging liberals. racially tinged counter charges eerily echoed segregation's hostility to the 1950's, 1960's black civil
rights activism. five-membercratic city council established a commission on race, memorials with a $10,000es proposing to determine options. public flare-up, it seemed only pigeons paid the statutes. many black shortlyvillians indifferent, contending that there were more relevant issues. colleagues remarked i have more important things to do a statue.d at a study we heard about among the monuments there, none denounces slavery. there are 12 in charlottesville, one national news magazine
listed lee's statue as among the south's 12 most racist monuments. of charlottesville current 15 public sculptures, none depict african americans. white except for sacagawea. the monuments have implicit and racist bias ease hero worship. these historical forces persist not just and minds, bronze and stone. in the old south, the confederate south, and new south, african americans were a suppressed racial minority kept in place by linching and castrations. during reconstruction, they sought new freedoms including access to public spaces. local hooligans chased them from
richmond's capital square, the george of a statue of washington and the inauguration of jefferson davis. incidents occurred elsewhere there, including charlottesville, until the 1970's. is it a coincidence? black and white history makers in public spaces? civil rights monuments seemingly doesn'tivil rights always mean civility. controversy stoked by inflammatory community saw a effort of arthur ashe joining the monuments. or cost of removal restoration of a statue can run six figures. on the last page of his tedious
memoir -- i'm probably the only african who's readle jefferson davis' them memoirs cover to cover. may endure the union forever. although the confederacy has been on the wrong side of 152 years, neoconfederacyism is waging war on social media. 2016 andarch february 2017, an online petition -- the town motto is confederate pride -- she obtained over 8,000 signatures towards her 10,000 goal, or 89%, keep the statues. charlottesville's student's 700tion received just over signatures. can't meet the math in "hidden figures," my
math suggests that african muster 8%can barely support of a quasi anti-racism referendum. this also begs the question why inexplicitly support wrong causes. there is a blurred line between one's moraland not all declaring confederates were slave owners all worlde as saying war ii german shoulders were nazis. victories would have perpetuated injustice. naziism had prevailed, so, too, the holocaust, and racial slavery. of historian found 33% southern soldiers owned slaves from slaveho came holding households was almost of two.
the vast tabulation, majority of volunteers in 1861 to a direct connection slavery. w.b. dubois once observed we often congratulate ourselves a problemtting rid of than solving it. it behooves nations as well as men to do things at the moment ought to be done. publicix months study, discussions, a 72-commission vote and spending half its budget, the blue ribbon commission's 328-page final the charlottesville illustrated,was documented and possibly publishable as a monograph on issue of racism. "moving the sculpture to
confrontingrk and its history there in a new confronting two, the statue in place by that could be accomplished through a design competition, commission of new or standard request proposal." the statues to be ifamed, recontextualized they remained there their respective parks. declared thatmber the council would not be bound by the recommendation. a deadlocked vote enabled a lee whennd victory for one of two female counselors constantly failed on the vote to remove the statues. there were shouting matches councilors and audience.
one email about the subject, "my ancestors fought under general lee and i will fight with honor iskeep the monument where it and run you out of town." nevertheless, earlier this month, about a week, earlier this month, lee lost the second charlottesville at a less raucous public meeting as 3-2 to relocate his statue and unanimously voted to rename lee park. they directed the city staff to prepare a range of options for twor consideration within months. meanwhile, the commission chair person apologized for its blamed the city council. now, though personally acquainted -- this is my first public comment on this subject. i have been asked by the media in charlottesville for months to comment on this. this is my first public comment and i'm doing it in richmond not because i'm a coward or anything. [laughter] anyway, though
personally acquainted with some of the counselors and commissioners, and given their talent pool, i equipped leadership. logic of moving lee and renaming his park while retaining jackson park and how this would repair race relations otherwiseate forgotten aspect of history baffles me. volatile emotions are not truthsing because the always makes some ununcomfortable. council, andsville their decisions require more than moral persuasion because people only change when it's in their best interests. unlike its previous editions, a coffee table visitor's guide distributed to 5,000 hotel rooms firm omits any
mention of the now apparently politically incorrect lee, jackson and other confederate monuments for the first time in its history. in all, who should have the final say on whom or what should with taxpayerd dollars? the public or public officials? decision makers choose not to decide how to manage the repercussions. half measures and lack of public consensus means matters are unresolved. it may be that a consensus for this complex issue is not a viable go. soon the litigation and counter will begin.hase lawyers, not soldiers, will this cultural war. african -- quasi reparations for slavery and discrimination crossed a racial
threshold when apologies were issued by congress, virginia and other states. folks' hard earned sweat has funded colonial governments, states, states rights states and the federal government. removale called for the of confederate monuments as operations.rep the national correspondent for the "atlantic" and recipient of mccarthy foundation genius wouldsays "reparations mean the ends of yelling patriotism while waving the confederate flag." to offer reconsideration on this topic. i'm not going to read through all of these but here's the bottom line about confederate confederacy, the civil war -- here is the bottom
line. if the north had lost the civil happened tould have african americans in this country? what would have been their fate? if robert e. lee and jefferson davis had won the war, would slavery theolished next day? the next month? the next year? no. the confederate constitution sanctions slavery. something that i find appalling that people who defend confederate monuments, which i have no problem with, but i notice they dodge the and what wouldy have been the fate of black people had their ancestors been successful. i will quote. "of course it is awful to one'sly admit that ancestors and heroes were wrong and racist. but is this necessary in reconciling competing in 21sttural interests century america? ground,s are hallowed
an aesthetic motif for andology, memory keeping symbolism. statues do not die. confederate monuments will not deteriorate as long as whites remain a democratic majority. robert e lee will remain its foremost demagogue. envisioning the next half-century, the census bureau projects "an increase into the minority publishing with a plurality of racial and ethnic groups by 2044." that is 27 years from now. by 2060 the non-hispanic white population including the confederate south what it decline from 62% to 44%. just in time for the civil war bicentennial. >> [laughter] prof. jordan: if it believes its
ethnic supremacy is imperiled, with a white nationalist self rise again? memories matter. academia holds a unique public trust and needs to think more about the present so that the future avoids the worst of the past. america's historical amnesia is burdened by sanitized ritualized estonia, -- ritualized nostalgia, particularly in race. i use the definition between those born between 1992 and 2000 -- millennials seem more comfortable with these generations, but confederates haunt our culture wars, preying on the fringes of the national fabric. some worry that the republic is changingly, recklessly
from a failed slavery empire into a trumpire. race still matters. slavery is dead, yet too many questions remain why raw racism persists. as america's third century approaches, one wonders whether this toxic gridlock will continue. in the backlash of the first black president, we are witnessing reactionary spasms by pugnacious political divides and unabashed scapegoating of minorities and reasons and. talk is not cheap when rhetoric becomes reality. where this squabbling will take us and at what cost is anyone's guess.
in this hyper partisan climate, it behooves me as a descendent of slaves, a softener and civil war historian --southerner and civil war historian to quote it greatest hero, abraham lincoln, in his first inaugural address. t enemies, but friends. it must not break our bonds of affection. the mystic chords of memory stretching from every battlefield to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land will yet swell the course of the union, trust, as surely as they will be, by the better angels of our nature." thank you. >> [applause] prof. jordan: my host asked me
to take questions, which i'm willing to do. >> count of curiosity, do you have an idea in the former confederate states, how many statutes of lee there are? prof. jordan: i was discussing this with my fellow presenters. i optimistically started out by trying to do a count, but i gave up. something else would always p opo up. i am one of these historians who, if they don't know, i will say i don't know. i was hoping to find some clues. as far as i know no one has tried to calculate. even wikipedia and there is google -- various google sites won't take that on.
>> what suggestions do you have for bringing together the two sides of this issue so that both sides can be equally represented? and comes from a southerner a person whose family fought for lee. prof. jordan: i would begin that with all due respect by saying i am a southerner too. when i gave lectures like this in the 1970's and 1980's, and i introduced myself as a southerner, the white people would gasp. my father and family is from north carolina and my mom was from smithville, virginia. i am a southerner. there are good and bad things about the south. i am always mindful of that. with ans coming up answer to these competing cultural interests, i am speaking only for myself, not
for my host, just myself. i am opposed to moving confederate statues. and it's strictly financial. ofcosts a heck of a lot money to move a statute. that money can be used in texas starved times -- tax starved times for better purposes. i think it is better to erect new monuments than to tear down old ones. removing monuments strikes me as something that is done against tyrants overseas like adolf hitler and josef stalin. america does not need to be this way. leave them alone. the people that pay attention to the most of the time our pigeons. i don't mean to be flippant, but that is what i feel.
>> you said slavery would have continued into the 20th century if the confederates had won. my question is, when did slavery disappeared in the western hemisphere. my understanding that it was in the latter part of the 19th century, and an institution in south america. i think i read somewhere that it disappeared in 1888. if that is true, what are you basing on that it would have continued into the 20th century? prof. jordan: first off, the last major country to abolish slavery was brazil. they ordered that all slave records be destroyed. why do i believe slavery would have continued into the 20th century? if the confederacy had fought and won the civil war,
southerners that owned slave would not have willingly given up slaves in a generation. the confederate constitution sanctified slavery. how they could have gotten enough confederate states together to pass an amendment to the confederate constitution to abolish slavery. i believe it would have continued. some historians argue it would have continued into the 1920's. because have continued white supremacy would have continued. slavery came out of white supremacy. that is why we are in this mess we are in right now. one day way back in the distant past, one group of people said, we are better than this other group of people because they are a different color, different culture, that makes us better than them.
that is the foundation of racism. which came first in british north america, racism or slavery? i decided not racism came first. -- that racism came first. in order to insulate a person, you have to consider them an inferior. did that answer your question? mr. martin and i are old friends from charlottesville. i was listening, and these -- i am really bothered by that. when you look at mankind, it is not divided according to raise. -- to race. 1400 years ago god revealed in the koran, mankind, we have created you from a single pair and united you into nations and tribes so that you might know each other. the most honorable of you are the most that are most obedient to your lord.
that was 1400 years ago, before the formation of european nationstates. it has only been under european hegemony that they decided to divide mankind into races, and artificial concepts. century,re in the 21st still arguing over an artificial concept. america is not racist. america is a society of nationalities and tribes. we have to remove that concept of race to define human beings, and the concept of black and white to define americans. these are divisive terms. s job into the 21st century. europeans, stop
masquerading as white people. prof. jordan: i am sorry, what is your question? not a know that you are race. prof. jordan: i know that i am a race. >> with makes you a race? prof. jordan: when i was growing up in virginia, my parents sat down and gave me the talk about being a negro in white society. >> did god make you a race or part of a family that became a tribe? race is an artificial concept designed by intellectuals back in europe, and divided mankind into race. prof. jordan: race is not official -- not an artificial concept when you have the ku klux klan come to your house and spray paint it with red paint. >> again, those who did that --
do you follow what i am saying? prof. jordan: no i don't. >> they are told they are superior by the white. prof. jordan: you are right when we say we need to get past that. i hope that we do. i hope i will live to see it. but i have to see that race is itartificial concept, but exists, we have to deal with the fact that we have race. are you familiar with the discussions about the jail site here in richmond? what is your view on that? prof. jordan: i don't know what kind of money the city of richmond has, as far as memorializing that. one of my policies as a historian, i don't go into other people's cities and tell them what to do.
as a historian, i provide them objective information and facts. i leave it up to local people to decide what to do. i am glad that the logan jail site is getting more attention and more people want to preserve it. the citizens of richmond will make that decision. to tell them what to do would be inappropriate, from my perspective anyway. was very happy that you mentioned the constructive idea that instead of destroying, constructing statues for african-americans, as was done on monument avenue. has there been any talk in charlottesville about doing something similar? the. jordan: unfortunately
black community has been trying to raise money for a statute for several years. that has fallen by the wayside. government,city much to the envy of others, because we have a $69 surplus, -- $6 million surplus, is making sure that the banneker properly commemorate lysed. i think that charlottesville is not perfect. it is doing things better than in comparison.es >> thank you sir. >> [applause] interested in american history tv? visit our website, www.c-span.org/history. schedule,ew our tv view upcoming programs, and watch college lectures, archival
films, and more. american history tv at www.c-span.org/history. tv,ext on american history duke university professor explores the complex history of slavery, indentured servitude, and the concept of race. professor peck explains language-based definitions of race born out of the slave trade shaped how whites saw themselves. and how the creation of white identity led to the rise of white supremacy. the national archives in washington hosted the event. it is just under one hour. bob, thank you sandy for convening this timely the 13th,on about 14th, and 15th amendments, and how they matter in the