If you have been following the news about decisions to remove Confederate monuments, or about direct action by crowds to remove monuments, you should take some time to listen to this discussion on “Erasing History or Making History? Race, Racism, and the American Memorial Landscape.” You’ll hear two eminent scholars, Annette Gordon-Reed and David W. Blight, discuss what we should memorialize, how we should understand past memorials, and how we should think about keeping or removing them. If you are looking for definitive answers, you won’t find them here. This is a thoughtful conversation about the ways in which we should approach the question of memorials. If you’ve heard anybody say, “If we take down Confederate memorials, what’s next? Washington? Jefferson?” there’s something in this conversation for you. Given recent decisions like the one to remove the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, or the statue of John C. Calhoun in Charleston, this is a very timely discussion. Check it out at the link below.
Gordon-Reed is the author of The Hemingses of Monticello, which won the Pulitzer Prize for HIstory in 2009, and Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (2016). Blight is the author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (2001) and Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (2018).