Alabama and Mississippi jointly celebrate the civil rights hero and the Confederate general
Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (left) and Confederate general Robert E. Lee are still celebrated jointly in Alabama and Mississippi. (AFP/Getty Images (King); Matthew B. Brady/AP (Lee))
By Meena Venkataramanan — January 16, 2023
As the country celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, two states will observe a different holiday: King-Lee Day, which commemorates both King and Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
The two men’s birthdays fall just four days apart, but their legacies couldn’t be more different. King gave his life to the cause of racial equality; Lee fought in the Civil War to keep Black people enslaved. Continue reading The “Ambiguous South” Honors Robert E. Lee alongside MLK Today
[NOTE: Making, Un-making, and Re-making history: this piece has it all; plus two kinds of revolutionary art, personal achievement, bulletproof vests, and religion in action.]
White contractors wouldn’t remove Confederate statues. So a Black man did it.
Story by Gregory S. Schneider
RICHMOND — Workers in bright yellow vests circled up in the morning chill. Some clutched cups of Starbucks coffee, a last comfort before beginning the hard work of dismantling a statue of Confederate Gen. A.P. Hill in the middle of an intersection. Continue reading Taking Down “Stonewall” Jackson & Robert E. Lee: A Saga of Now 4e&
[Note: the headline above needs some clarification: actually it’s liberal Quakers who aren’t likely to welcome Penn’s comeback; many others may cheer. More on that below.]
May I have your attention, liberal Quakers? The effort among some of you to expunge William Penn from our Friendly pantheon because he owned slaves has in many ways been a big success: his name has been scrubbed from the rooms, building & events you frequent; his writings downplayed or ignored, and the search for replacement paragons, and even a replacement history, is underway.
But if one were to look beyond the increasingly narrowed liberal horizon, one might catch sight of a novel phenomenon: beyond it, especially in (of all places) the former Quaker stronghold of Pennsylvania: William Penn is being exhumed, dusted off, and readied for a comeback. Continue reading William Penn Is Making a comeback — And Quakers Aren’t Going to Like It
NOTE: It took me awhile to realize it, but my joining the voting rights movement in Selma, Alabama in 1965 was like walking into a theater showing an action movie/thriller just in time for the climactic car chase and shootout: high excitement and historic triumph for the good guys. Within six months, it seemed to this rookie, it was all over but the shouting, and the counting of millions of newly-enfranchised Black voters.
Okay, I was a greenhorn rookie, a young white northerner. Only later, in the rheumy eyes and muffled voices of a few surviving elders, did I begin to take in the scope of the backstory: sixty-five years — three generations — of official exclusion from the voting rights supposedly won with civil war and emancipation. Not to mention the long terrors of Reconstruction, and slavery before that. I’m still learning about all of it.
By now, though, on the verge of 80, I understand something more about this long, bloody past. There’s also an old beginner’s sense of its cyclical character: one or two steps forward, then one or three lurches back. I read about it, but more: saw the cycle repeat in the fabled birth of the Voting Rights Act, and now the extended torture of its ongoing, public ”legal” evisceration.
Few writers give me more economical and clear-eyed insight about this today, than Jamelle Bouie, in his columns. In these excerpts he cuts to the Jekyll-and-Hyde nub of it, and further illuminates how it is coming to another crisis point in the imminent midterms, but will surely not end there, whatever happens:
[The] legal scholar Aziz Rana has observed that for many Anglo-Americans in the 18th century, freedom was an “exclusivist ideal, accessible only to Anglo-Saxons and select Europeans, whose heritage, land practices, and religion made them particularly suited to self-rule. Continue reading Quote of the Day: America’s Fatefully Conjoined Twins — Democracy & Autocracy