The historical memory of the Civil War and Reconstruction has earned increasing attention from scholars. Only recently, however, have historians begun to explore African American efforts to interpret those events. With Defining Moments, Kathleen Clark shines new light on African American commemorative traditions in the South, where events such as Emancipation Day and Fourth of July ceremonies served as opportunities for African Americans to assert their own understandings of slavery, the Civil War, and Emancipation--efforts that were vital to the struggles to define, assert, and defend African American freedom and citizenship.
Focusing on urban celebrations that drew crowds from surrounding rural areas, Clark finds that commemorations served as critical forums for African Americans to define themselves collectively. As they struggled to assert their freedom and citizenship, African Americans wrestled with issues such as the content and meaning of black history, class-inflected ideas of respectability and progress, and gendered notions of citizenship. Clark's examination of the people and events that shaped complex struggles over public self-representation in African American communities brings new understanding of southern black political culture in the decades following Emancipation and provides a more complete picture of historical memory in the South.
|Publisher:||The University of North Carolina Press|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||2 MB|
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Clark makes effective use of period newspapers, manuscripts, and secondary sources to offer a valuable regional study of an important aspect of postbellum southern political culture. Recommended.Choice
Defining Moments is an important work and contributes much to our understanding of black citizenship in the postbellum South. . . . [Clark] adds to our understanding of gender roles, of the significance of history to the black community, of the importance of claiming public spaces for commemorations of any type, and she creatively helps us grasp the difficulty and frustration of advocating for racial progress in a region that sought to thwart any advancement.Virginia Magazine