The Southern Past: A Clash of Race and Memory

The Southern Past: A Clash of Race and Memory

by W. Fitzhugh Brundage

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Overview

Since the Civil War whites and blacks have struggled over the meanings and uses of the Southern past. Indeed, today's controversies over flying the Confederate flag, renaming schools and streets, and commemorating the Civil War and the civil rights movement are only the latest examples of this ongoing divisive contest over issues of regional identity and heritage. The Southern Past argues that these battles are ultimately about who has the power to determine what we remember of the past, and whether that remembrance will honor all Southerners or only select groups.

For more than a century after the Civil War, elite white Southerners systematically refined a version of the past that sanctioned their racial privilege and power. In the process, they filled public spaces with museums and monuments that made their version of the past sacrosanct. Yet, even as segregation and racial discrimination worsened, blacks contested the white version of Southern history and demanded inclusion. Streets became sites for elaborate commemorations of emancipation and schools became centers for the study of black history. This counter-memory surged forth, and became a potent inspiration for the civil rights movement and the black struggle to share a common Southern past rather than a divided one.

W. Fitzhugh Brundage's searing exploration of how those who have the political power to represent the past simultaneously shape the present and determine the future is a valuable lesson as we confront our national past to meet the challenge of current realities.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674028982
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 07/01/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 662,130
File size: 641 KB

About the Author

W. Fitzhugh Brundage is the William B. Umstead Professor of History at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. A Duty Peculiarly Fitting to Women
  • 2. Celebrating Black Memory in the Postbellum South
  • 3. Archiving White Memory
  • 4. Black Remembrance in the Age of Jim Crow
  • 5. Exhibiting Southernness in a New Century
  • 6. Black Memorials and the Bulldozer Revolution
  • 7. Contested History in the Sunbelt South
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

History is a powerful weapon. In this stunningly imaginative and finely crafted study of the struggle for the control of the memory of the Southern past, W. Fitzhugh Brundage has provided a critical lens through which we can view some of the most volatile issues of our time. In stark detail, he explains how Southern white memories of gentility and the heroic Confederacy co-existed with, and were finally challenged by, Southern black memories of human bondage and heroic slave resistance. In a most sophisticated analysis Brundage explains how shifting political power has constructed and reconstructed the remembered history of a changing Southern cultural landscape. This is history at its best in service of our society's efforts to come to terms with notions of Southern heritage, one of the most complex, controversial, and significant issues of our time.

James Oliver

History is a powerful weapon. In this stunningly imaginative and finely crafted study of the struggle for the control of the memory of the Southern past, W. Fitzhugh Brundage has provided a critical lens through which we can view some of the most volatile issues of our time. In stark detail, he explains how Southern white memories of gentility and the heroic Confederacy co-existed with, and were finally challenged by, Southern black memories of human bondage and heroic slave resistance. In a most sophisticated analysis Brundage explains how shifting political power has constructed and reconstructed the remembered history of a changing Southern cultural landscape. This is history at its best in service of our society's efforts to come to terms with notions of Southern heritage, one of the most complex, controversial, and significant issues of our time. --(James Oliver Horton, co-author of Slavery and the Making of America)

David W. Blight

Fitzhugh Brundage's The Southern Past is an extraordinarily ambitious and important book, a true achievement by an immensely talented historian. This book should reach a wide audience with its story of how the past has been shaped and reshaped in the South through usable narratives, commodities, curriculums, parades, books, sacred sites, vacant lots, real politics, and heroic icons on both sides of a tragic racial divide. In scope, research, and writerly execution, no one has ever captured the scars and the possibilities of Southern memory quite like this.
David W. Blight, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory

James Oliver Horton

History is a powerful weapon. In this stunningly imaginative and finely crafted study of the struggle for the control of the memory of the Southern past, W. Fitzhugh Brundage has provided a critical lens through which we can view some of the most volatile issues of our time. In stark detail, he explains how Southern white memories of gentility and the heroic Confederacy co-existed with, and were finally challenged by, Southern black memories of human bondage and heroic slave resistance. In a most sophisticated analysis Brundage explains how shifting political power has constructed and reconstructed the remembered history of a changing Southern cultural landscape. This is history at its best in service of our society's efforts to come to terms with notions of Southern heritage, one of the most complex, controversial, and significant issues of our time.
James Oliver Horton, co-author of Slavery and the Making of America

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