Skip to main content

tv   The Civil War Confederate Icons Conference  CSPAN  July 28, 2018 2:00pm-4:16pm EDT

2:00 pm
a reminder you can also watch by of our coverage anytime visiting our website, \history. you can find out the schedule and see our programs in their entirety. share us your thoughts. we are going to get started. if you would like to find seat, we will get started with answering a few questions we have been hearing
2:01 pm
lunchtime.lunchtime we have gotten a lot of comments about getting involved with the foundation. is help using to do preserve the memory of the american civil war and on of those people who lived through it in the valley by becoming a member. and theye of our staff can give information on how to do that. the should answer most of questions. membership is the key. not only does it help us by about a faux bland, it helps us battlefield land, it helps us to do events like this one. i'm excited to introduce our speaker, christy coleman. she began her career as an
2:02 pm
interpreter at the williamsburg foundation. levels ofars, she had responsibility, finally serving as the director of historic programs. she was named president and ceo of the charles wright museum in detroit. she was named president and ceo of the american civil war center, and in 2013 she helped orchestrate the merger of museum ofr with the the confederacy to create the american civil war museum, serving as co-ceo and then named the chief executive officer of that museum. ms. coleman lectures extensively. she will be no stranger to many of you. she has written a number of articles as well as served as a screen writer for educational
2:03 pm
productions and she is a sought after historian for media outlets. the boards of on the american alliance of museums and for state and local history and continues to be engaged with these and other organizations, active in every community in which she works, her accolades business 40oit's under 40 list in 2000, the key to the city of toledo, she has ist, recognized on an it l and her honors go on and on. it is our pleasure to introduce to you our friend, christie coleman. [applause] ms. coleman: good afternoon, everyone.
2:04 pm
i am delighted to be with you and to talk about something that has clearly taken a life of its own, yes? aboutwe are going to talk when the sacred and the profane are one. we start this off understanding that nothing, i mean nothing happens in a vacuum. at whatbegan our work became the american civil war museum, you need to understand that endeavor was the result of of intensegood years theaboration on what became commemoration of the american emancipation. it was an attempt to bring these
2:05 pm
narratives together. why? , thearrative had dominated history of the confederacy. the other part of it had been paved over with an interstate on top of the bodies of the dead. place that served as a center of the domestic slave trade. it has been estimated close to of all african-americans in this country have an ancestor that was sold or traded from richmond. this history remained covered under a parking lot with an interstate running through it. whydoes not have to wonder in our city monuments and confederate symbols have diverse
2:06 pm
meaning. not just inhave, richmond, but around the country. this piece comes from the southern poverty law center and was published in 2015 by the business insider and it showcases how many places around the country we find confederate symbols in the public space, whether that is schools, monuments, and the like. you will notice they are virtually everywhere, even in places that were territories during the actual war. then one has to ask the question, when did they go up? onnow even though these are large screens for you, it may be difficult to see. there is a period of monument
2:07 pm
building in the south. the first period we can refer to riod, asourning pe soldiers are dying, they are being placed in cemeteries, some of them having bodies taken home. cemeteries,vate smallchurch cemeteries, stone sculptures, sometimes for the wealthier, headstones that honor their service to the confederacy. reconstruction, after reconstruction is abandoned by the united states government, we see something else happened. at the same time, we begin to -- we arebuilding running into the 25th anniversary of the war itself.
2:08 pm
there are beginning to be commemoration ceremonies, which are fascinating. of buildingeriod that the reality was they are thatring at the same time deliberate actions are being toen in legislatures disenfranchise black male voters . to begin a practice of concentrating black voting power and a time when extreme violence is perpetrated against those who are fighting back against that disenfranchisement. environment, the 2015s of the summer of when america to her core
2:09 pm
nine church members of the mother manual church in south carolina were executed during prayer service. the space where they should have been the most safe, the most secure, and the violence against of thes reflected violence perpetuated during the modern civil rights era when churches were bombed and preachers killed and the like. theica remembered and when young man who was responsible for the deaths of those people was identified this way, in his pictures and posts and social media presence, the response was swift. the confederate flag and symbols thereof became once again a reminder of america's domestic terrorism.
2:10 pm
for those of us in the public history realm, we were getting the phone calls from our communities, from the press, asking, what does the flag really mean? we are hearing all kinds of commentary about the flag. say at the will american civil war museum, we ask, which confederate flag? we wanted people to understand the symbols that had become withivocally aligned racism and white supremacy actually was one of many. it is deliberately chosen for reasons we will discuss later. initially, which flag are you talking about? there are home guard flags.
2:11 pm
there is three different national flags. after a while, it became a copout. we had a responsibility to talk about what we knew the community was asking. they were not asking about a particular battle, they were asking about this one, what most referred to as the army of tennessee, the tennessee flag, the rectangular one. this is the one associated with the ku klux klan and other groups. it is that flag of nathan bedford forrest, that would become known as the symbol of oppression, especially be modern civil rights era. whether you like it or not, the reality is they were no loud cries from sub and saying do not .surp our images do not take them from the battles.
2:12 pm
there are people living in america right now, like many of thein this room, who recall 1950's and the 1960's as young people and what was happening. the question of which heritage are we trying to preserve and keep when we think about confederate symbols? again it becomes messy. if we are really intellectually and emotionally honest about this, we understand they are and profanefor some to others. the question moved from dealing with flags that are on state houses to, what do we do with the symbols themselves? thatundreds of statues
2:13 pm
stand in the front of courtyards and parks in particular. few people were having a itversation about removing from cemeteries. this was about the public square where the public is responsible for the financial upkeep of these monuments. in many cases, these monuments cities, urbanal centers, which, historically, as contemporarily, our spaces that are younger, spaces diverse, to be more and spaces that tend to be more politically progressive. so as these conversations are
2:14 pm
taking place, as the fever is starting to build and build and build, we start to see the first set of counter protests. july of 2015, we see 173e were 173, at least, pro-confederate flag rallies. as you can see from the map, central florida, western and easternvirginia, carolina, sorry, western carolina, you can see the range where people are taking a stand. these are some of the images we saw. those two summers. we knew that eventually when the sales were going
2:15 pm
to go up. number of confederate battle flags, particularly the tennessee, would find itself with suppliers unable to keep up . it spoke volumes. we hadown gift shop, made the decision, a long time ago, actually, we would put them because we wanted to have a conversation with visitors about the other types of flags and understand the meaning of why they were trying to acquire the items for us. it was quite a conversation among the staff. that isve a staff diverse in terms of age range,
2:16 pm
background, so forth. about theto them talk conversations they were having with our public and the phone calls coming in as people wanted to place orders helped us just bend we could not reactive. at some point we had to enter the fray of the conversation to help our community. i have said it before and i will as a museum, a place of public trust, as academic historians, when our communities are in crisis, it is irresponsible to sit to the side . it does not mean we take sides. what it does mean is we have the wherewithal, if we have the artifacts, the archives, the information to help the conversation become more
2:17 pm
informed and more civil, we are failing you as a public institution if we are not engaged. that is what our institution chose to do. us, we started inside thinking about, well, what is really out there? whencame more to the fore 2017 i waser of asked to serve as cochair of the monument avenue commission. initial, i would say, naive and wishful thinking of you can gete said this done in three or four months. charges,ly got two
2:18 pm
figure out how to interpret who else should go out there on monument avenue? so we figured, we will a couple of public meetings, have a few conversations, set up a website so people can send letters, etc. as the letters began pouring in, and i started going through them, the level of passion, the level of rage, the level of pain had a new dimension. stock came tohe came to me,hought this is not going to be quick and it should not be easy. we've got to figure out a better
2:19 pm
way to hear what people are saying. he absolutely agreed. so we took a look. we stepped back. course we had to see what everybody else was doing. published about the most prominent of the confederate statuary around the country. robert e lee is the one you see in green, which may be difficult to see. robert e lee is in green. jefferson davis is in grave. stonewall jackson in yellow. jeff stewart is the blue one. forrestnathan bedford him,e top left and below
2:20 pm
pierre. you know who i am talking about. they are the most prominent on the landscape. in richmond, we have a number of confederate statues throughout the city. the one that is more prominent are the five on monument avenue, the grand boulevard developed as a real estate boon. a thing folks don't know and we had the opportunity to share, it was never, monument avenue was never intended to be confederate row. it happened happenstance.
2:21 pm
leeappened shortly after died. it was clear everyone wanted to do some kind of memorial to lee, and it became a conversation about it can be nowhere else but richmond. it took 20 years. when it was finally determined to place it on the western side theren that had nothing but an open field, and the desire to bring this old heart, the house building began in earnest. today it has some of richmond's , in expensive real estate the state, frankly. the area is a national historic district. each of these monuments, save two, are considered historic
2:22 pm
landmarks. i'm sure everyone in this room has been there at one time or another. would that be a fair assessment? raise your hand if you have been there. they are massive. lee stands at 60 feet. we started digging further, taking a look at this trend of virginia's building. does it mirror what is happening on the national scale from the slide i showed you? it did. from 1880-1899, and actually, that was not supposed to happen. it is a touchscreen. that is lovely. until 1910 is where we see the
2:23 pm
boon in that monument building. what you'reunities, finding is communities with less financial wherewithal, and i whiteo say, let me say, members of the community would gather resources and pay for what they could afford. many times that was a mail-order statue. that is fascinating because i was in michigan in february, fun times. we passedpeech and as the public square, i recognized the civil war soldier, except it was the same guy in front of the courthouse in chesterfield,
2:24 pm
his clothing is different. it is the same guy. this is what happened. them, whichoduced allowed communities to build these smaller scaled things. they ended up in front of the courthouse. virginia, as these monuments, at the height of monument building, stripping black voting rights, they make a series of , theyesigned to protect did not use the language of war memorials. to the war between the states. they shall not be altered,
2:25 pm
moved, or destroyed. this is significant because in the state legislature, there was opposition to this. for the most part, they were the republicans who were a progressive party that were trying to expand voting rights. they were very different in terms of the platform of the time. losing thelso political power they had in the 1860's and 1870's. they were losing political power to the conservative democratic party, also quite different. time we see this the height of the building of these monuments. the language on the monuments becomes far less ambiguous.
2:26 pm
they do not just speak to our fallen dead, the boys from such and such county. insidious.far more when we started asking the question, and we started going through all of the letters we received, what i am showing you lettersle of the 1700 the public sent in to the monument avenue commission. the majority of those were with 60% in the richmond region, which was important to track as much as possible. you don't want those interlopers in there. what we found was that on the surface when we asked the
2:27 pm
question, where we read through their letters, are you in support of keeping the monuments them, we context to found 26.7% said keep them and add context from the letters. when we asked remove the 18%.ents, we got when it said relocate the monuments, and this is something museums heard a lot of, but the mini museum, i am here to tell you most museums cannot afford to maintain statuary, to maintain statuary is an expensive thing. if anybody is asking about why is lincoln on the property, that is the property of the national park service.
2:28 pm
it was placed it there so it could be removed if it needed to be by the national park. i digress. a considerable amount of money to care for them. some of these are not small things you can slip in a gallery. where do you store them? they are bronze, stone, all kinds of edifices that would take away precious resources from other work the museum chooses to do. by mission, has to do. museums around the country made it clear relocating these to our facilities was out of the question. had keep with no changes and found 22% supported that. last, the undecided, the
2:29 pm
folks who are like, i don't know. i want to know more. this is what i think. a lot of those letters were based on, especially after august 12, 2017, a lot of the letters after that were, i do not know what to do now because the violence in charlottesville and the death of that young woman weighs heavy. we do not want that enrichment. we don't want that in virginia. what is the solution? as i said, we went to work and we restructured the way we think about and plan for our work on the commission. , we win looking for essays and articles and statistics to inform ourselves
2:30 pm
so we could help inform our communities. it had to be a conversation. we had to establish some way for our to establish some way for our community not only to talk but to listen. and one of the amazing ideas that came from one of our smaller planning sessions with the public was his idea of -- well, what if you just found a way for you to go to the group that wants to talk, and that is what we did. we made ourselves available. in ent out into the desert to-by-twos and three-by-twos whatever organization wanted to talk to us. they could have a back-and-forth conversation about, again, what we were learning, both in terms
2:31 pm
of the history as well as what others were saying and thinking about all of this in our community. we sat through presentations where we were told to just listen. we were not to say a word. and we do that. -- did that. we had sessions where the groups actually did facilitate a dialog with professional -those were the churches --had facilitated dialogue, and we were able to walk around the room and listen in on these smaller listening sessions, 100 people who had gathered to do this, and it was, again, extraordinary. but there was still the question of what to do on the landscape, given everything that we had learned. most --probably the sell a mountain, right? because last i heard, they were planning on adding another face. when you have things of this
2:32 pm
scale -- what is their meaning? at have to look carefully why and when they were put up and what they say, so we did that, too. we looked at not only what our monument set in richmond, but we also looked at other communities around the country that were having these conversations, and of course we all remember what happened in north carolina. we know what happened in new orleans. and the back story is so important, right? in new orleans, just like richmond, it did not happen in a bubble. it did not happen because nine people were murdered. it happened because that community was grappling with things in their public square that were in a complete defiance of the majority of the population and the sensitivit.
2:33 pm
in new orleans, they will taiyo -- this is a conversation that has been going on for 20 years. they have been wanting to get statue in liberty park. this was a statute specifically honor the great anglo-saxon race for driving out, you know, reconstructionists and reclaiming white supremacy. that is essentially what this thing said straight it is honoring a massacre against black citizens, in the middle of the public square, being paid for by that public' moneys! that is what started the conversation. and if you look for it carefully, you begin to see that we have similar things on the landscape in each of our communities, where some of this language is dominant. now, is that to suggest -- now here is an example. can you see that? took overtes troops
2:34 pm
the government, recognized white supremacy in the south and gave us our state. yeah, i want my money paying for the. truth of the matter is they try to to cover it up with new language and new plaques, but the image above remained. is here, in memoriam, no nation rose so white and fair, none felt so pure of crime. this is the language that we begin to see taking over the landscape, particularly after 1900. surge ofee the next monument building in the 1950's and the 1960's, it is absolutely adjacent to the modern civil rights movement. and the response of communities today, well, they are not sacred
2:35 pm
to many of the. and the question that we have is -- what do we do to make sure that the various values that people have attached to these over time, that we are able to bring together a language of understanding this past and all of its complexity? you cannot divorce the reality that many of them are put up in place. again, there is sort of the original grieving period, you know. it is very different. because most of those actually did not have words on the, but the later ones do, and as i said, they become more and more about something else, about the underlying ugliness that continues to permeate american culture, even to this day. that is what people are responding to. so the question as to whether or to, as a society, we decide
2:36 pm
look at these pieces in historical context, to understand that, yes, there are many, especially the small ones in the community courtyard, they are placed there is a way to remember. they are placed there in response to trauma and grief. and with any trauma or grief, there are five stages. there is the initial shock, there is the denial, there is the anger, there is the bargaining, and then there is reallynce of what happened to every single one of us. and that is at the end of the day what we chose to do with the richmond monument avenue commission and what we choose to do on a daily basis at the american civil war museum in richmond, virginia.
2:37 pm
this story come of this history did not exist in a bubble. this history, this story is all of ours, and we must recognize extraordinary narrative or piece of art, there is more than one site to look at it, but to appreciate its wholeness, you have to be willing to look at all of it. with that, i say thank you, and we will take questions now. [applause] >> do we have any questions? remember, let's just go over this because we have not talked about this since lunch, please
2:38 pm
no statements, only questions, and keep your questions brief so ashave a much time possible. go ahead. >> when you are looking at the monuments on monument avenue and comparey, did you all yourselves or look at other periods of time or other countries, for example, where monuments have been removed? ms. coleman: the question was, for those of you did not hear it, during our study with the course of the monument avenue, did we look at other practices or options in other parts of the ,world, and the answer is loosely, yes, we did. as you can imagine, people in other conversations would say "we are not isis! we do not tear down statues!"
2:39 pm
i heard "isis" so much, it made me crazy. let's back up a little bit. let's look at what other countries do. in some countries like an pilot germany,and, in those statues were moved from public areas, and most of them were put in parks and containment parks where people can go. they do not allow for any demonstration, they do not allow for any gathering of groups in those places, but it is preservation of the artwork. so we saw a number of examples of that. had, during one conversation with someone who says well, in germany, they did not tear down the concentration camps. they are open for people to talk about the. yes, that is absolutely true, but they also do not have statues to nazi leadership on the landscape, and
2:40 pm
they did in fact keep the concentration camps to remember. but in the united states, for so long, we turned our plantations into these fantasy lands about moonlight, magnolia, and tea on the porch, and it is only been in the last 20 to 25 years that we even had a conversation about what happened to the hundreds of people that were enslaved on these properties. with referral to call them our servant, our people, "we were good to them." on the enterprise, they could sell your child at any point in time, so we have to be mindful that, yes, there are a lot of different things that were happening, and we were looking at some of that, but the end of the day, to really try to keep -- at least think a little bit bigger, but even around the question of contacts as we begin to think about what context meant, we realized it meant a whole of more than just changing words on a plaque.
2:41 pm
you can create whole new meaning just by adding a different kind them or with to them, and the perfect example is the wall street ball. -- bull. whole different meaning when the artist but the little girl standing bear against the bull. and it allowed us to see something a little differently. next question. >> anderson cooper did an interview with professor hader from the university of michigan, recently rerun on "60 minutes." nationwide, certainly, maybe even beyond, a look at what you and your commission have been wrestling with. you?hat been helpful to has that been helpful getting more input from people to the commission? ms. coleman: the publicity has
2:42 pm
been useful. helpful -- if you read any of the comment pages -- which i really don't ever recommend -- at the end of the day for us, it was an opportunity to really talk about the fact that -- and i will say this, what is amazing is since the commission report has been released, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. yes, there are pockets of individuals who, you know, are trying to do whatever they can to make sure nothing happens, but what became abundantly clear to us in the process is leaving monument avenue as an is is not acceptable to the majority. where wet a matter of can find our balance in this moment in time.
2:43 pm
20 years from now, they may choose something else. yes, sir. >> can you speak a little bit more to the commission's recommendations and why that is what they recommended? ms. coleman: essentially, the the commission is a 2500 page document. themselvesndations are about two pages specific to the three charges that we had. what could the context look like, who would you add, and finally, if any art could be removed, when, where, how, etc.? mades i said, virginia law that restrictive, so we had to couch our language on that one and say pending current litigation with changes in the state law with our recommendations there. -- they are really quite there are nuances and questions and comments that came from the
2:44 pm
public. think having written most of that i would have it on the top of my head. i have just been resting my brain for the last couple of weeks, but essentially we said we have to have context, and think about it in terms of bringing in the artistic community and so forth. think about these are who the public said are some of the other figures they would like to see on monument avenue and how that can be created. and then we talked about jefferson davis for richmond being the one monument in richmond that was more akin to the lost cause narrative and its style, structure, and language on the placard. but we also recommended that, because of the artistic merit of the peace, that there were options for elements of it, and we provided that. you can get it online.
2:45 pm
it is very much available online, at the website monument it is right there on the first page. yes, ma'am. >> first, i want to apologize, because this is going to be more of a statement. and a question. >> only questions. >> it will be a question. did you not have pictures of the people who are taken back the image of the flag? you only have pictures of people who are using the flag negatively. ms. coleman: actually, i did, if you have looked more carefully, you would have seen pictures of people, reenactors, yes, i did. >> this is not the flag is what i saw. ms. coleman: i would be happy to show it to you later. what is your question? >> you said "how can we stop this?" we need more education in our schools. kids are being taught the very minimal about history.
2:46 pm
"hating on the statues is racism." kids in school are not taught. i have answered it, thank you. ms. coleman: yes, sir. >> with a timeline of when the monuments were placed and certain other historical events other time,d at the coincidence or not, has anyone done a study of how long it takes from conception to actual unveiling for one of the menu monuments to come to fruition -- major monuments to come to fruition? at the time, monuments could -- if the money was there and available -- they could be erected fairly quickly. i the particular cases of monument avenue, it took 20 years for the lee monument for a number of reasons. number one, they could not agree
2:47 pm
on the type of the monument, the design of the monument. they had to raise the money, they had to figure out exactly where it was going to go. so it did take quite a time. other communities that decided to do them in front of the courthouses us with generic soldiers, and did not take long at all. less than a year. yes, sir. because iam curious, have learned something here today. what i am curious about is, you latter stages, so i will say during the 1920's, up,he monuments when became more explicit with the verbiage, was there any change in terms of the people that were being memorialized. initially saying they were the kind of generic confederate the likeness of lee
2:48 pm
or jackson and such, but during this period where it became more explicit,, where they like, say, ond-tier confederate's? ms. coleman: that is a very good question. what we found is the statues to the big boys, the big icons, confederate icons, those dominate, and in many cases, those particular statues just, like the one in richmond, it just as "lee." there is nothing else there. as we move along the timeline, they get more language, they may talk about a certain battle where they died. but the language that takes on
2:49 pm
terms of the, in lost-cause narrative or white supremacy specifically, those tend to be more generic may be a where it singular soldier or something like that. there are some instances where it is an individual in particular, but yes. a very good question, thank you. ok. in terms of the demonstration that took place, the bubble, and your total number in terms of , estimates participated in that was 23,000. 23,000 people in the united states is a drop in the bucket, but that seems to be driving the narrative.
2:50 pm
host leman: [inaudible] about the counterdemonstrators? >> right, the counterdemonstrators. who are way over here on some side. and the number was 23,000 -- that is nothing. that is not even a small county tends toia, but that be what is focused on and is driving so much of the narrative. and how do you get it back to where -- because with those people, you cannot have a conversation. it away fromget them and back to the people on both sides who can at least have a civil conversation, which to me is what you all accomplished in richmond? ms. coleman: thank you.
2:51 pm
to the getting back civil conversation is recognizing that the end of the day, there are individuals that, no matter what you say, will completely disregard the public record. you can literally put in front of them as stack -- let me tell you -- matter of fact, any of these historians on the table, you can lay out historic documents that explain these things or show these things, and i will tell you that the american civil war museum, we have the bulk of all of the and recordses, regarding all of the monuments that went up on monument avenue as well as many of the historic records of the lee memorial association, united daughters of the confederacy, that they do not have, and the like. we have supportable archives. so to be able to go back and look at those documents, you begin to see, again, this sort of mix.
2:52 pm
we are not talking about what was even then a democratic process. it was a process of the powerful , and in some communities where there was no opportunity. i know we are running really short on time. a few more questions. this gentleman and then this gentleman. >> what is being done by the commission to recognize the totality of people's lives? i am thinking of lee after the war, as dr. robberson mentioned, and also maury, the pathfinder taught at theo naval academy, an academic or you have to look at the totality of the pe. that is a very good question, and murray, unlike the monumentat line avenue, is not presented in uniform at all. in fact, with his monument, it does correct reflect a
2:53 pm
career where the confederacy is a footnote for murray. it is one of the footnotes. it is one of the things that he does. lee, jackson, ap hill, all of the others are in uniform. they are, in terms of looking at the whole of their lives and their work, that is not necessarily what is being honored in the course of the work, and again, when you look at the proceedings, it is about them as military leaders. long --you can, all day in any museum, we have basically 150 250 words, and that particular panel will tell you what is going on. can hope for as you are talking about the individual as art, but the individual depicted, and the community's response over time as you have a very short period a time to figure that out, and i will say that that currently is
2:54 pm
not my job. my function on the monument of -- monument avenue commission is complete. i absolutely hear what you are it is going to be an interesting challenge to find that space. >> but shouldn't you also consider -- ms. coleman: yes, sir. >> your comments about the battle at liberty park in 1874 raises an interesting question that touches on the essence of this debate. historiansry regarded lieutenant general james -- has the most accomplished tactical and strategic genius of the american civil war. he, as you know, was the militiar of the african and the metropolitan police of new orleans during that battle.
2:55 pm
he was then lost, wounded by a spent bullet, captured. he was acting under the authority of the grant administration, which he joined in 1868. the question is -- why has there never been a monument to general james long stream of the confederate army, and what does debate?l us about this ms. coleman: i think that tells you quite a bit about the debate. the individuals who were later known as the real adjusters, the confederate general officers, etc., who would eventually support reconstruction and would support the black enfranchisement, you would find that for the most part there are no monuments to them and the cap the on of confederate memory. there just are not. so you kind of have to thank for bit, but i think
2:56 pm
it is telling. again, thank you all so much for your time and attention. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] we are going to take a quick 15-minute break and come back for our next speaker. >> you are watching american history tv on c-span3, live from james madison university in harrisonburg, virginia for the confederate icons conference. the shenandoah valley battlefields foundation is hosting the event. our live coverage continues in about 15 minutes with civil war historian john koskinen over the debate over the confederate battle flag. i'm still then, more civil war history from our ceased and then, tour --
2:57 pm
more civil war history from our c-span cities tour. national civile war naval museum in columbus, georgia. right here on the banks of the chattahoochee river. the purpose of the naval museum is to tell the stories of the navies during the civil war. we are the only facility that focuses entirely on that. particular story. a unique right here is the remains of a the cssate ironclad, jackson. this is an ironclad that was built here in columbus during the war. specifically, we are about the midship of the vessel, and this section was missing. section was missing. fell apart during the recovery process, and this is to take a t and what areaslt
2:58 pm
are used for different purposes. an ironclad is a wooden ship. you still have to build the structure of wood. but on the outside of it, above the water water line is the plating. this provides the ironclad to the vessel. if you want to think about it like this, it is like putting a man inside a suit of armor. most of the ironclads are used in coastal waters and rivers, and what they were designed to do is essentially protect, in the confederate states, protect local port cities and towns, which leads us to why jackson was built in columbus and columbus is so far from the coastline. theas the most important in entire confederacy, and the confederate navy began building the ironclad here to
2:59 pm
protect this very important sit. there was always a fear that the navy would mount an attack of the chattahoochee river. the reason this could afford a target is because of the industrial capacity here. they are producing uniforms, here, and thisns j is where the columbus depot was. the uniforms here went largely to the western army. this is an internal way for a confederate to produce their own material rather than having to import so much from outside. construction on the jackson began in august of 1862, and she was launche in the river of 1864 when wilson's raid came through and hit columbus, the battle of columbus took 1865. on april 16, apri
3:00 pm
general dreams wilson commanded 10,000 troops -- general james wilson commanded 10,000 troops. their job was to -- [no audio] especially like the jackson would be used at a port city. an approaching army, the vessel can move up and down the this is typically what ironclads did. case of thethe
3:01 pm
jackson, there is no proof for her yet. officially, the confederate navy has her on the list, an official navy register as the next ship to be officially conditioned. forver, there is no crew the jackson available yet. she sat at the navy yard. the navy never could come aboard or get her steam up. there were not enough men to do during the battle of columbus, she sat at the navy yard. there were not enough men available to do this. so it sat there during the battle and did nothing. nice showpiece, so to speak. the next morning on the 17th, wilson's men came into the navy
3:02 pm
yard and started burning everything. they know they cannot leave a viable weapon like this behind them. flammables in the ship. there is a debris field between here and the final wreck site. it finally gets caught in the bend of the river and there she sank. the water finally put out the fires. and we have what is left of her now. her links was 225 feet long. at her57 feet wide widest spot. we estimate she weighed 2000 tons. the majority of the shift is made out of wood. the hull is made out of good old southern longleaf pine. we are at ground level. we are at the stern of the casemate. this gives us a great vantage to
3:03 pm
see what the hull would look like. the bottom is flat. the vessel is not very deep because the vessel was designed specifically for river travel. it was designed not to go out on but specifically for problems of the river. if you don't us here -- if you notice here, this wood plank has an edge because this is where the iron plates would come down. it is wrapped around what is called the knuckle. you have the water line here. the iron plate comes here, resting on this wood plank right here. also, if you will notice, the wood planks, the boards look like they have cracks in between them very wide apart.
3:04 pm
this is the problem the vessel was recovered. when they brought it out of the water, they set it up on the shore and let it dry out. it cracked and constricted. when she was launched in the river, one of the local newspaper reporters noted in the paper that she floated like a duck on a pond. she barely leaked. an amazing job the constructors did on the vessel. from this vantage point, you are looking toward the stern of the vessel. you're looking at back. moving forward, you can see where the chefs -- shafts of the propeller are embedded in the hull. the shafts would have been coming forward toward the pistons of the steam engine. you have the pistons moving back and forth, turning the propeller shaft. you have two of those, two big
3:05 pm
ones right here along the section behind this superstructure. right here is where the steam engines would sit. you have the boilers right here. if you are able to look up, we have a re-creation of the smokestack. you have the smokestack going straight up. above the upper deck, the smokestack extends about 40 feet. from this vantage point, we are able to look down on the jackson. we are essentially at forward deck level so you're looking aft toward the main casemate of the ironclad. the oval shapes you see are the gun ports of the jackson. the jackson is armed with six brooke rifles. the brooke rifle is a rifle gun. it fires large bullets instead of cannonballs. the brooke rifle has an effective range of about five round weighsolid
3:06 pm
about 120 pounds. brooke rifle we are firing today is one of the guns built specifically for the jackson. naval cast at the selma works in selma, alabama, and completed in january of 1865. ready. clear! fire! shots]g >> and boom, you have the explosion. it is simple and yet so effective. after the war, people basically knew where she went down so it is not a question of having to discover where she was. the physical process of the recovery of the jackson took place in the early 1960's, the
3:07 pm
centennial of the war. they began working on that process in 1961. they started to build a cofferdam around the wreck site. they tried to flush the water out of the interior of the cofferdam. they had to start digging the gunboat out of the mud. when the pulled the vessel out of the river bank, they had to tow this material back up the river. they used a tugboat to do that. they have some flotation devices under it and so forth, but they are pulling the wreck, the two pieces of the wreck, up the chattahoochee river with a tugboat. then they have to lift it with cranes on to the river bank. i was at the location of the old museum -- that was at the location of the old museum. in the late 1990's, they began construction on this nice facility. it was completed in 2001. to move the vessel from that
3:08 pm
place to this location, they used one of those big trucks that they move houses on. they had to move it very carefully down one of the streets of columbus. when they built the building, they built three sides and backed the hull of the jackson in and slowly pulled the truck out from under it. when they got everything in place, they built the back wall of the building. it was an amazing engineering feat to pull this off. there are only four ironclads from the civil war that we can study right now. the jackson is right here. this is why this facility is here. it is first and foremost to tell the story of this particular ironclad and to show people there are more than just one or two ironclads.
3:09 pm
there were many. we have one of the best examples of that right here. watch this and other programs on the history of communities across the country at this is an american only on cspan3 -- this is american history tv only on cspan3. >> the first of our eight-part series of women in congress. sunday, susan molinari. .> it also made me a fighter i was forced to be tougher. that was sort of the secret back then. we were constantly underestimated as females. sometimes, being underestimated is a good thing because you can
3:10 pm
add the element of surprise. i remember a lot of debates where people i was debating did not take me seriously until it was too late. i think the same thing happens when you are negotiating. >> in the weeks ahead, we will hear from pat schroeder, sue myrick, eva clayton, barbara can nelli, and lynn woolsey. cspan3.nday on >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. c-span was created as a public service by america's companies.ision we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events in washington, d.c., and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider.
3:11 pm
we are back live from harrisonburg, virginia, for more from the confederate icons conference hosted by the shenandoah valley battlefields foundation. next, historian john coski on the debates over the confederate battle flag. later today at 6:00 eastern, we will re-air all five speakers from today's live coverage right here on cspan3's american history tv.
3:12 pm
[indistinct conversations] >> how are we doing on time? >> find your seats. we are going to get started
3:13 pm
after the break. thank you to all of you who are already members of the shenandoah valley battlefields foundation. a special thank you to all of our guard members, our most only giving society. a special thank you to all of you signing up to become members today. those memberships are what keep us having these events. thank you very much for that. i would like to again do a quick thank you to james madison university, a phenomenal educational institution in the heart of the shenandoah valley. it is a beautiful campus, a beautiful venue, and they are wonderful partners helping us do our work in the great valley of virginia. without further ado, i would like to introduce our next speaker, mr. john coski. one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. we were just commiserating over the fact it is sometimes hard to get photographs of people when
3:14 pm
you are as short as he and i are, so we enjoyed getting our picture together up front because it went well for both of us. i don't think john is as short as i am. i would not threaten him with that. john is the chief historian at the museum of the confederacy. he earned his be a through mary washington college. .a. and phd from the college of william and mary. he is the author of several books, most notably "the confederate battle flag: america's most embattled emblem." 150 published essays, articles, and other reviews. if you are an armed store -- armstrong -- armchair historian or professional historian, you are likely to know his name. 250 panelivered
3:15 pm
discussions and is known primarily as a commentator about civil war monuments in the landscape of the civil war which makes them perfect for our discussion today. it is my honor to introduce mr. john coski. [applause] mr. coski: i'm going to adjust the microphone down. my dog's name is porscha. i have a very visual topic. i will be showing slides and moving through them quickly. i have a topic already addressed today.
3:16 pm
i will beg your pardon for a little bit of repetition. i have been talking about this subject for about a quarter of a century or so now. i told terry when he first tried to recruit me for this i cannot believe there is anybody in virginia who has not heard this yet. for those of you who have, i apologize. you have probably heard it before. we all know where we are starting from, the events of the last couple of years. you know that monuments and confederate symbols have been very much in the news, especially the last two years since the violence in charlottesville. fact, it had been in the news since this image christie showed you earlier. we have been in a different world since june 18 of 2015 when this photograph hit the internet. i will not give the man the
3:17 pm
credit of saying his name allowed, but this may be the most important photograph taken of the confederate flag in our time. mentioneed to do is charleston to know what we are talking about. it hastened political changes many of us had seen coming from long before but which had been occurring at a gradual pace. 2005, and my book in it was not original to me, the confederate flags will continue to come off the cultural landscape over time. it was a downward trajectory for the confederate flag's comments on our cultural landscape. and that monuments would be next. the events of 2015 and 2017 have hastened this at a breakneck speed the last couple of years. it almost makes you nostalgic for the days before 2015 when you did not hear much about confederate monuments. you've seen this photograph already of the taking down of the flag from the soldiers
3:18 pm
monument at the state capitol in columbia, south carolina. the first direct impact of the charleston murders. let's not get too nostalgic and -- i amt forget forgetting my own slide sequence. it led to the taking down of other monuments the following year. the years before 2015 were filled with controversies surrounding confederate symbols, specifically the confederate battle flag in the streets of auburn, alabama in the early 1990's, the old south korea's were replete with confederate -- parades were replete with confederate flags. it was settled with the adoption of the new state flag in 2004. what seemed at the time to be the solution to the long-running problem, the challenge of the
3:19 pm
confederate flag over the capitol dome in south carolina, when it came down from the dome in 2000 proved the only an armistice and not the solution. controversies have been raging for more than half a century. while theforget events of 2015 to make us forget that these are not new to 2015. quite the opposite. the reason i am appear here at all talking to you as an expert on the confederate battle flag is because controversies have been raging in such volume in the years. in the late 1980's and the early 1990's when we decided to create an exhibit called "embattled emblem" to address the history of the confederate battle flag to provide background and perspective we thought the public should know to understand why there were so many battles over the battle flag. how did the various conflicting
3:20 pm
points of view if all -- evolve, and what could we do as a museum to help people understand and become more constructive in their dialogue surrounding the confederate battle flag? that is when my work began 25-plus years ago. there is nothing new to all of this. we need to keep that in perspective. all of you know confederate there is no such thing as the confederate flag. for that matter, there is no such thing as the confederate battle flag. it is a rich subject. fought your ancestors under the van dorn flag or a simple state flag like this. these were all confederate battle flags. this is not a conference about the civil war. it is a conference about civil war and confederate icons.
3:21 pm
when you talk about this, only .ne flag counts the cross on the redfield. flaghappens to be a naval for those of you keeping track of a naval vessel. that is the flag we will be talking about today. that is the only one that really counts as an icon. we need to start the discussion with the stars and bars. we are on television so let's make sure we educate the masses. that is the stars and bars, isn't it? no, this is the stars and bars. symbolically, the polar opposite of the battle flag of the stars and bars. i cannot go into a long history of wartime flags so i need to cut to the chase and emphasize
3:22 pm
couple of key points about wartime flags. one of those is the relationship between the stars and bars, the first national flag of the confederacy, and the confederate battle flag. the stars and bars was shown the liberally as the national flag of the confederacy in 18 621 because it so closely resembles the stars and stripes. flag to be part of their own iconography. of people said it did not make sense but they did not win the day. flag of the confederacy the liberally resembled the flag of the country from which it was breaking away. he became a problem as a battle flag and national flag. served for a lot of units. the problem with the battle flag that resembled the flag of the enemy was confusion on the battlefield.
3:23 pm
it did not look distinctive enough. it failed entirely as a battle flag to be distinctive for guiding troops on the battlefield. generals and commanders throughout the armies of the confederacy looked for distinctive flags, some of which i showed you earlier. the one we are talking about is this battle flag. this is one of the prototypes in the museum collection circulated an approved in the fall of 1861 for became the battle flag the units of what became the's army -- lee's army in virginia. flax of silk bunting which we have more than 250 an hour collection mass-produced for armies of the confederacy. eventually, pretty much every army in the gift that her seat -- confederacy had flags of this pattern.
3:24 pm
it was particularly associated which was army important because it was keeping the confederacy alive. equalsfirst among because of the status of lee's army. the flag i just showed you was of the mississippi infantry. the flag associated with the and the lifeoldier and death of soldiers, it became a soldier's flag and was consecrated by the blood of the soldiers. if anybody wonders why anyone would ever consider this a flag of heritage, you have to --erstand it's interval
3:25 pm
integral connection to the confederate veterans. it is a symbol of the confederate veteran. you have to understand that if you want to understand why people regarded as a symbol of heritage. more on that later. it was seen throughout the and in the army of innessee pattern distributed 1863-64. here is a graphic that will help me sum up confederate flag history and helping make one more crucial point. this is from the veterans report on battle flags, trying to pass down the true history of the flax for posterity. this is identified as the battle flag. none of the other battle flags appear in the graphic. the rich diversity of the battle thes was replaced by confederate veterans themselves.
3:26 pm
what is important is the evolution from the stars and bars to the second and third national flag of the confederacy. by 1863, the stars and bars had failed as a national flag. havee begin asking why we a battle flag that resembles that of the united states. white southerners had been weaned from the old symbols of the united nation. they wanted symbols that spoke to their new, aspirational independence. what could that be? the flag of the army defending the independence of the confederacy. there was a lot of sentiment for making the army of northern virginia battle flag the flag of the nation. instead, they chose to emblaze emblazon it on a field of white. that tells us the importance of that battle flag not only as a soldier's flag but as a national flag. we would love to make a clear
3:27 pm
distinction between the soldiers flag and the national flag. the soldiers flag had nothing to do with the confederate cause of slavery and the causes of the war. but it would not be true. the soldiers flag became also the national flag. not because we made it that way, but because the confederates themselves did. they made the soldiers flag into a national flag. there is no clear distinction between the two. in 1865 at appomattox and elsewhere, the flags were furled ase and for all presumably father ryan wrote in his famous poem. put away is holy memory not to be unfurled again. it is a thing of the past associated with the confederate dead and departed confederacy itself. if that were true, mine would be
3:28 pm
a very short talk today and we would not be arguing about confederate flags today if his advice had been heeded. even before the end of reconstruction, the confederate flag became a prominent part of white southern civic life. it was in the hands of those who had used it during the war itself, men like this, thomas colley of the first virginia cavalry. by the way, he lost a foot in the war. he marched in the 1896 veterans reunion in richmond. the veterans used it in parades like this in association with monument dedications in richmond and the 1907 veterans reunion. unveiling of the statue in 1907, it was a major part of the civic life in the south in
3:29 pm
the 75 years after the end of reconstruction. but it had a restricted role and was associated with the confederacy, veterans of the confederacy, the keepers of the confederate flame. it had a logical connection to memorializing the confederacy. it was broadly used but in a restricted way that we can understand as a clear reference to the confederacy. itsas eventually -- symbolism was eventually owned by those who revered it. they limited its use to memorializing the confederacy. it forsentially owned all intents and purposes. but then something happened. we go from kansas to oz. we are not in kansas anymore. by the time this photograph was taken in florida in the 1950's, this was unheard of in the years
3:30 pm
immediately after the civil war really until the world war ii years when this became for many 59, many of you older than me grew up when the confederate flag was a major southernmerican and cultural life during the late 1940's and beyond. part of my challenge in writing this is what happened and why. i will try to explain briefly. it began happening even by the turn-of-the-century. this is an advertisement for oldsmobile trying to show the prowess of a car driving from michigan to daytona beach. north to south. we need some symbols to signify north and south. how about a u.s. flag and a confederate flag? not the stars and bars, not the
3:31 pm
national flag of the confederacy, but a battle flag of some description. that tells me by 1900, this one of theings -- principles of my talk today is about tracing the pattern of this flag's history. we have to trace its entire history to understand why there are battles over the battle flag today. the meaning has evolved over time. it has not been one meaning replacing another. it is an accretion of new levels of meaning. these meetings derive from use. use leads to perception which leads to meaning. it went from being a flag of the confederate soldier to the flag of the confederacy. by the turn-of-the-century, beyond the confederacy to the flag of the white south.
3:32 pm
abouts talking earlier "gone with the wind" and the inularity of southern chic the 1930's, that included the confederate auto flag. it was becoming part of american popular culture in a special way, in a favorable way among white americans. it was assembled not just of the confederacy but of the south. this was hastened during world war ii as a result of american soldiers from the south mixing with men who were not from the south. you don't really know where you are from until you start mixing people who are not like you. as southern men started mingling with men from new jersey who talked differently and have different traditions, they wanted some totem of their own regional origins. one of the favorite things to bring with you or have sent to
3:33 pm
you with a confederate battle flag to tell people i am from the south. thee are the men of confederate forces of the solomon islands in the pacific in 1944. many incidences like this in world war ii of southern men who sported confederate flags to show their southern roots. this continued after world war two and the korean war era. this was the dixie division in south carolina that used the confederate battle flag as part of their official symbolism. in 1951 withkorea his confederate battle flag. i received quite a few photos in response to an ad i put in a magazine for korean war veterans about the use of the confederate flag in korea because americans were fighting under the u.n. banner and not the stars and stripes.
3:34 pm
the confederate flag was the most popular american flag in korea. sentayor of new york city 100 of them to give the korean flag a healthy competition. another kind of warfare brought the flag into popular culture, the football field. this is the field at ole miss which has been closely associated with the battle flag. beginning in 1948 when the school was 100 years old. most of the student body of ole miss went off to fight in the division i showed you earlier. beginning in 1948, the battle flag was used as part of the ritual of football games at ole miss and into the 1950's and 1960's. not just ole miss. this is the university of .irginia in 1947 a at a much stronger
3:35 pm
tradition of confederate flag-waving. students would wave the flag that football games. when they went north in 1947, the last time virginia troops went to fight in pennsylvania, what did they bring with them? the battle flags. we will bring them back and this time we will win. they did, 47-0. [laughter] this made headlines around the nation. it was primarily through cap alpha -- kappa alpha eternity that battle flags -- fraternity that the battle flag became part of college campuses. flagresence of the battle through the old south fraternity helped launch the flag into popular culture through college campuses.
3:36 pm
there is little doubt about that. this is at auburn during the 1950's. this is a significant photo. one of my favorites. [laughter] she is old enough to be my grandmother. she is miss dixie 1951. this is like the photograph from lake cypress gardens. this was something completely unknown before world war ii. it shows a major change in the use or misuse of the confederate flag. it is also significant because it appeared in "life" magazine is part of a large spread about the confederate battle flag fad. that would have been big news if it was just occurring in the south. but it was occurring all over the nation. in detroit, atlantic city, and elsewhere. the pundits were asking what was going on, was this rebellion against truman or a popular fad?
3:37 pm
there was something significant going on. the material culture of the confederate flag that many of us knew growing up. all of the stuff i knew as a child and is part of the enormous output of confederate kitsch is all a function of the 1950's through the 1980's. at one point in the 1950's and 1960's, if you had a business with dixie or southern in your name, almost certainly would use the confederate flag as part of your symbolism. this one still exists at dixie trailer sales in newport news, virginia, that has been there many decades. it was a natural marriage during the height of the confederate flag in american popular culture, as was this marriage to nascar. they were born almost at the same time with the popular
3:38 pm
of racing insion the south and the use of the confederate battle flag in the official symbolism of the races. what was happening with nascar and beyond is another widening of the symbolism of this flag, from confederate soldier to confederacy, south and white south, to an association with being a rebel. not necessarily a southern rebel. a rebel. a character, a personality trait seen in motorcycle riders and truckers. it became a totem of self-declared rebels. it became an icon of southern rock music with lynyrd skynyrd, alabama, and other groups, continuing to our own time. this is all part of the heyday
3:39 pm
of the general lee and "dukes of hazard." good old boys, not dangerous, good old boys. southern with hearts of gold. a bit rough around the edges perhaps. it was such a strong symbol of bros.hat warner trademarked it. this was the popular culture with which we all grew up. this is wildly different from what happened before world war ii. it was not just good old boys that used the flag. it was not so good people who have tarnished the reputation of the confederate flag is nobody else has, the ku klux klan. this was at the southern poverty law center in montgomery in the early 1980's. the klan was born immediately after the civil war. it was formed of former
3:40 pm
confederate veterans in 1866. the confederate flag was not visible the first incarnation of the flag in the 1860's. nor could i find it in the second klan born after "words of nation" --birth of a that thrived into the 1920's. this was the earliest use of the flag i have been able to find, the earliest graphic use. this was a memorial day march in 1939. they were interlopers. ralph mcgill and other editors excoriated them for being involved in march and tarnishing the flag with their presence. 1946, the confederate flag and become part of the ritual of the third klan. you see it with the hangman's
3:41 pm
noose, christian cross, bible, american flag, and confederate flag. they more or less took over the confederate flag. a lot of people today associate it with the klan. more important was this moment in birmingham in 1948 in july when the dixiecrat party was born and nominated strom thurmond for president, a breakaway from the democratic party re-nominating harry truman. they had embraced a strong civil rights form. it was just starting to emerge as a popular culture symbol and was merged with white supremacy. in the auditorium, you see a lot of young faces because a good delegates at the convention were college students from the south where they were accustomed to waving the flag as
3:42 pm
a symbol of football as well as kappa alpha. they brought it on to the convention floor. this photo made it the symbol of reactionary politics. it was not the party but the young supporters who made it a symbol. it made it a political symbol. it kind of makes sense. the last time the federal government interfered with the southern way of life, slavery, this was the flag of opposition used the army's the cap the confederacy alive. the government is throwing its weight behind an effort to interfere with the southern way of life, segregation. symbol to it a useful stating their opposition to that and there support of segregation.
3:43 pm
flag right along with it. formed in groups reaction to the brown decision in 1954, explicitly white supremacist and racist , like j.b. stoner. what is important is for those of you for whom this is a flag of heritage, you wonder why black people see it as a flag of segregation and racism. it is because a lot of people used it that way. they are not imagining it. people meant it to be the symbol of white supremacy. it was not just extremist views like the ku klux klan. there's no reason to allow a few thousand people at best to define a symbol that meant something different for other people.
3:44 pm
if you go through a highlight reel of the civil rights era, you will find the confederate flag almost all the time in the hands of ordinary people. whenabama, the state guard martin luther king was in selma or when james meredith appeared on campus at ole miss in 1962 to integrate. the boys used to waving the flag's football games waved it in his face to turn him away from campus. marcherscivil rights arrived in 1965, they were greeted by at least one confederate flag. when virginia passes massive resistance laws in the 1950's, one young man was there to associate his support for white supremacy and states rights with a confederate flag. integrated,rock was
3:45 pm
central high was integrated in 1959, the confederate flag was there as well, as it was in birmingham in 1963 when the white students wanted to boycott integration efforts in birmingham, or when students in louisville, kentucky, five against busing. i don't know what they had against kissing, but they need to get spelling lessons. it was there ubiquitously in the hands of ordinary white southerners for whom the flag obviously symbolized white supremacy or at least opposition to integration. that is a track record throughout the civil rights era. it is important to note all the while, the flag continued to beat what it always had been for many people, a war memorial, attribute to southern confederate soldiers and their deaths. soldiers.rial to
3:46 pm
earlier of thede controversy surrounding the confederate battle flag. what we have seen to this point is an accretion of meanings of the confederate battle flags, conflicting meanings of heritage and hate, all of these various meanings that came to a head. for the last half-century, it has been history of controversy, of efforts to remove flags from their prominent place they used to enjoy on the commemorative landscape, particularly in official places like state capitol buildings, state flags, local courthouses, and places of power that the naacp referred to as a sovereignty context. efforts to remove them from sovereignty context but also to reduce the flag's profile on the commemorative landscape, this has been the history of the flak for the last 50 years.
3:47 pm
it did not begin recently. it has come in clear waves since the mid-1960's. culminated with the removal -- it culminated with the removal of the flag from the dome in south carolina and the selection of the new state flag in 2004 after decades of active flag flaps. but it never died down completely. thereington, virginia, has continued to be controversy about the ability of people to fly the confederate flag or display them on flagpoles. there were lots of other incidents after 2004 and before 2015. california passed a bill banning confederate flag sales in 2014. the issue was not completely dormant before this photograph of the charleston murder in june of 2015. things dramatically and hastened the pace of change
3:48 pm
and challenge to flags and monuments. let me go back to this slide because i promised in my title a modest peace proposal. it is not new. it is in my book and i will make it now. it is based on the more important insights of my book. that is the remarkably similar reaction among diverse people for diverse reasons to the outbreak of the flag, if you into the flag's eruption popular culture and politics in 1948. that was something brand-new. heretofore, the flag had been used in ways you could understand in association with confederate heritage. things changed dramatically in 1948. unlike what christy said earlier, i would say it is important to note people did react swiftly and immediately.
3:49 pm
when this photograph appeared in upi and this one in "life" the daughters48, of the confederacy at the next convention, as this report was written an urgent call came to the president general for a ruling on the use or misuse of the confederate flag. daughters know after the sad day at appomattox when the south surrendered to the weight of numbers, the flag of the confederacy was furled forever. to benow a sacred symbol used only of the sons and daughters of the confederacy.
3:50 pm
when this photograph appeared in "life" magazine, university of maryland students responded with a statement in 1951 which it had to reiterate in 1966 in this statement.
3:51 pm
alpha cap alva -- kappa to knock it off, stop using the flag that way. 2001, weertain way in mean it this time, 50 years later. regulations ast you can see in this magazine where it was in the news too often for instance to abuse of the confederate battle flag. tried to stop the young men of kappa alpha from using it so carelessly. they acknowledged it was their fault for helping to launch it into popular culture and the political realm.
3:52 pm
other people had problems with the battle flag in the 1940's and 1950's. this is again from the "life" magazine spread in fort jackson. this is from "the pittsburgh courier," a premier african american newspaper of the time that says again cease-and-desist before completely different reasons. what is happening in korea? why is in the army cracking down on the treasonous use of the flag that stands for disunity at a time when the united states should be unified fighting against communists? it is a symbol of unity but also divisiveness in the face of international communism. alpha, americans, kappa and the daughters of the confederacy all agreed, the less the flag is seen, the better. it was a way of maintaining
3:53 pm
of its and ownership meaning and use. they recognized there was a relationship between those. only by limiting its use can we own the symbol for all intents and purposes we had before 1948. they carried through with model legislation submitted in 1949 and lobbied state governments. by the early 1960's, half a dozen southern states have passed laws punishing desecration and misuse of confederate flags as with the united states flag. these laws were not effective. they were hardly ever enforced. they were usually enforced against people who tried to point out how the flags were being misused. they were essentially dead letters. in 1956, the south carolina senator tried to make them put
3:54 pm
teeth in the laws but he did not succeed. part of the problem is the keeper of the confederate flame compromised their views and standards for understandable human reasons. for one thing, they like seeing confederate flags. isn't it cool to see young students appreciating their heritage? and secondly, african americans did not like the flag. they were telling us they were racist symbols. they cannot tell us that, it is not a racist symbol, so i will respond by putting more flags out just to show they cannot call my flag racist. by so doing, they sold their soul. they had this consistent position of trying to limit its use understanding the less it was used, the more they controlled it. they let african american criticism of it get them off their game. they started to defend the use of the flag more widely even though it was against the principles to do so because they
3:55 pm
did not want african americans to win. that helped to sidetrack and a derail the common sense effort to control the use of the flag in that era. they essentially abdicated. thatis a quote from a book defends the use of the confederate flag everywhere. he has a principle that he states. that is my position for a modest proposal. the most vocal defenders of the
3:56 pm
five today take the position that is the polar opposite of the early generations did, philosophy that the best way to defend the flag was to limit use and control the meaning. they like to put flags up everywhere. you see them along interstate highways everywhere. the idea being the more they make us take it down, the more we will put it in their face. they cannot make us take it down. that is what animated the counter rallies christy talked about. they cannot make us take it down, we will show them. think about how they are showing them. how does this flag honor the confederate dead? what does it mean to begin with? how is somebody driving by to regard this flag? what is it mean to the person who passes it by? everybody has the right to determine what it means for them. for some, it is a symbol of heritage.
3:57 pm
for other people, it is a big middle finger and they will give the finger right back to it. it is a generic statement that means whatever to whoever passes it by. it is not honoring the confederate dead. i think most in the room would agree the practical effect is to undermine the point they are trying to make. it is more than likely going to be counterproductive and lead to flags taken down elsewhere. there's all likelihood the right of free speech into frontlines will be abridged over time. it has been defined as a hate speech symbol by the supreme court on license plates. there are already laws about the height of flagpoles being passed by local zoning ordinances. on right of free speech confederate flags over highways may be short-lived. it. is how some people view
3:58 pm
when you see the flag over the interstate, that is many people's reaction. it has been brought back into the political realm by candidates in virginia. there is a politician who wraps who succeedse flag primarily in dragging the symbol into modern political fights and reinforcing the flag's divisive political meaning. why would anybody who pretends to revere the confederate flag support him or that gesture? what is a confederate flag prom dress say? how does it already confederate dead? why should people defend the right to wear a confederate flag prom dress? on provocative t-shirts, it is completely meaningless. what does this mean? how does this already confederate dead? why would anybody who professes to honor the confederate dead
3:59 pm
want to wear a t-shirt like this or defend anyone who did? we have the right of free speech. i am reminded of a mantra i use today concerning my diet. just because i can does not mean i should. those who revere the flag the most should be the most active in trying to restrict its use. they have the most to lose by wider use. flag is also an historical symbol. historical flags should be in museums. for a lot of people who defend the confederate flag and its display, they are opposed to relegating it to museums. in relegating a symbol of history to a history museum? they want it to be more than a symbol of history.
4:00 pm
they are being disingenuous. they want to drag it into political discussions today. cemeteries, clearly in a memorial context, here at hollywood cemetery, the making isy that i'm to ask people who think the flag is a symbol of white supremacy or who find it threatening to respect it as a memorial system when it is any memorial context. the way america was settled the civil war was to allow the losers of the civil war to honor their dead and honor their heroes and even teach history their own way. that has shaped the dialogue over confederate symbols ever since and that is what we are talking about today in this symposium. the war did not require those who were losers to surrender their symbols for to be reeducated. they were able to celebrate their cause and write a history of the war their own way.
4:01 pm
settling the war also require the winners, losers, and victims all had to become citizens again and live together, and that is still challenged today. what we need today is to find rules and principles and compromises to live together in a symbolic way. principles, compromises seem very clear to me. flag's champions claim, it is a warm morel, then let us respected as a war memorial and let us actively discourage any other use of the flag. those who profess to love the flag should be the ones to enforce this the most, not try to defend it as a living symbol of political causes or is some illiterate reaction. nothing will kill the confederate flag faster than to try to keep it alive as a living symbol today. earlier iterations beginning
4:02 pm
with father ryan into the 1940's and the reaction to the flags first use in popular culture, earlier generations understood this and so should we. thank you all very much for your attention. >> [applause] >> there are some folks that have questions for john. if you would like to come over to the microphone, any questions . all right, without any questions, let's give him another round of applause. >> [applause] >> away, we have one question. don't turn the dial. >> i have a question, does the national park service allow putting the confederate battle flag on monuments like at gettysburg any longer? >> i do not know. there is a question about whether the national park service allows flags.
4:03 pm
we have park service people here. >> can you stand up and into the -- can you stand up and answer that for us? >> they would be removed just like any other flags. what we cannot do is sell it in our museums. >> if an individual puts a flag at the base of a monument, that is more than welcome and allowed, however the national park service never sells confederate flags or anything with a confederate flag on it in the visitor center. >> what about a national cemetery like in all myra new york, we always went out -- in l york, we always went out and put confederate flags on confederate soldiers but we were told we could no longer do that. >> regarding national
4:04 pm
cemeteries, i am not sure. you are telling me something i didn't know about individuals putting flags on tombstones. these are particularly in answeries, kerry can with her work on the memorial association and the cemeteries tended by confederates. they are usually in private hands but in the north, particularly in cemeteries from prison camp sites, i don't know about individuals but there was a decision that point lookout at the circuit quite level -- circuit court level, the treated confederate dead at national cemeteries as american soldiers and therefore, only the american flag is allowed to fly. lookout, the confederate monument stands just outside federal property. it is sort of a memorial park outside federal property.
4:05 pm
the decision, which applies to all cemeteries is that the veterans administration regards confederate dead in those cemeteries as americans and only the american flag is appropriate and allowable for them. >> thank you for your presentation. that was on the best presentations on the history of the confederate flag, the battle flag, the government flag i have ever seen. what ision is simply, it matter, and what i mean by that is, to the best of my understanding in south carolina, when it was taken down in 2000, it was a compromise if they keep it on statehouse grounds, it was also in conjunction with the confederate memorial. there were individuals who were climbing people to remove it -- ho were climbing the pole to remove it after diligent roof
4:06 pm
killed those individuals in 2015. here we have a compromise that we have it in a historical connotation, yet that compromise was said, no, that is no good and you also have like you said, the national park service no longer selling it in a history memorabilia shop and likely judgment over there said, there are places that say, no putting out, i know you know more about it than me about putting it out there in graveyards. i guess my question is, what does it matter in the compromise because it seems that the opposing side doesn't really care? that is my question, what does the compromise matter? >> i will answer that to revert to something i said about the trajectory of change. that was visible before 2015. the compromise, the armistice,
4:07 pm
if you will that occurred in 2000. the compromise that brought it down from the dome beyond contextualizing it on the confederate statue seemed like a good compromise. now in the context of the confederate soldier monument rather than on the statehouse, therefore standing for the state of south carolina and its citizens, it was contextualized to the statue, but the time that was done, that's a, the picture , thewed you, the people anti-flag forces had signs that read shame. the men who wanted it, primarily men who want to be flag still up on the dome for yelling off the dome in in -- off the dome and in your face. clearly, there was a level of deliverance and wounded pride in having it taken down.
4:08 pm
it was clear at the time that it was just in armistice. a lot of anger, the ncaa among others in the naacp tried to continue the boycott saying in a sense, that is with the politicians compromise, we are not in. a lot of people did not buy that compromise and tried to keep the pressure up to remove the flag from the monument as well as from the statehouse, in part because they sensed victory but also because of that belligerent reaction of the day. it was clear that it was just going to be a temporary armistice and as demographic change occurs, as fewer people descend from confederate veterans, as we as a people become weaned from the flag, the --e culture overseas make the more controversies make white americans uncomfortable with the flag, and polls show a withering of support for the retention of the battle flag, that has been constant over the
4:09 pm
last half-century. it has been a slow change over time. we're seeing cultural change occur before us in it was at a gradual level and was clear that as generations change, eventually that compromise would come apart. what happened in 2015 made it happen far more quickly than any of us would have expected. keep in mind that the flag in south carolina continued to be a political issue. primary between mccain and george w. bush and mccain having to walk back what yet set the time and admit he had done it for political gain. the primary season is coming up again the following year in south carolina and i'm sure republican tenets were saying, i will have to deal -- republican god, ites are saying, oh will have to deal with the flag again. it is an issue in politics so all of these things were pre
4:10 pm
dictable. compromise any more than a come from eyes of 1850. of 1850.he compromise they are short term fixes. when you see these compromises in your own lifetime, try to take a historical view. they are likely not to be forever. mentioned protecting the memorial of value of the flag, take, or yourur position on how you combat the commercialism of the flag when it makes so much money for so many vendors and how you fight that? >> how you combat the commercial
4:11 pm
-- there is an inherent problem in the proposal that i made it is i am dealing with human beings and a diverse nation and people who are ornery, people who fight back, we'll have that to do exactly what -- if we are told we can't do something, we do the opposite. we do not like being told what we can and cannot do. there is that natural human contrariness we share no matter what our cause and that spikes the sales i was describing. and theleston murders charlottesville violence have helped that to some degree in that a lot of vendors, walmart amazon at in 2015, one point stopped selling them. a lot of big vendors gave in to pressure not to sell. they chose what they would call principle over profit in 2015. i think that has withered a look
4:12 pm
has been compromised since, but compelledts actually stopmajor retailers to participating in the sale of confederate flags. scenario will be that the same principle people, usually the so-called defenders of the flag, will say or do something stupid or violent that will have the predicable consequence of bringing a counter reaction that will put further pressure on retailers to stop selling it. i am looking back, fighting the last war if you will by looking back in the recent past to try to predict the future, but as long as people can get commercial items, they will -- two things, availability, but also we are seeing a shrinking percentage of people who are so
4:13 pm
dedicated to the flag that they would have that reaction and that over the time i've been studying this issue, has shrunk remarkably. where --k to the part to the point where white southerners who hereto for would still fly the flag because it's not offend them, and a lot of them said i don't want to be associated with those kind of people like the shooter in south carolina. what has happened in the past few years has made people who would have rallied to the support of the flag look in the mirror and say i do not like what i am seeing and be less likely to want to be associated with the flag and the second peas of the puzzle was a lot of retailers are choosing not to make money off of them. overtime eventually with a couple of shots along the have the effect of making
4:14 pm
the flag less importance -- less important as a merchandise item. >> thank you, john. >> [applause] >> thanks again, john. we'll take a short break. before you go, i want to make sure to once again thank american history tv as well as c-span for covering this live nationwide. it will be rebroadcast at 6:00 this evening and you will be able to get it off the internet as well. we'll take a 15 minute break and come back and give the battlefields foundation the last word. thank you. announcer: you are watching american history tv on the c-span3. our live coverage of the confederate i cans -- icons conference continues in about 15 minutes with our final speaker
4:15 pm
with ceo kevin walker. he talks about the politics of conserving confederate heritage icons such as monuments and memorials. until then, more civil war history with our c-span cities tour. when you name a bridge, certain things happen. the first is, you stand a modern marvel with the name of someone who supported white supremacy for decades. he was also a confederate war hero so anyone who goes of his bridge sees the name. the past and the present come together and that the bridge is stamped with the name of a former possible kkk leader. in 193930 andegan of the depressio


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on