Unless you have isolated yourself from all forms of media (or human interaction), you have seen the topic of historical memory being discussed, specifically within the context of Confederate monuments.
Though I don’t generally shy away from political discussions, I usually keep mum on social media. I would much rather discuss these things in-person. When the events at Charlottesville occurred, I initially kept quiet online, but then changed my mind when they hit my hometown.
I shared a city council event concerning Lexington, Kentucky’s Confederate monuments in Cheapside Park on Facebook (accidentally public rather than just to my friends). This led to several comments by individuals that I do not personally know.
Having a background in United States and German history has helped frame my perspective, both particularly relevant to the discussion of memorialization, as was my recent IDM on Kentucky slavery. Despite my general rule of not engaging with those looking for an argument on Facebook or Twitter, I decided to respond to a handful of people – though I was in my kitchen, furiously writing before I had to leave for work, I tried to remember the principles I emphasize to my students concerning controversial conversations. I was certainly impassioned, but still wanted to stay focused on the questions that these statues pose as it relates to history and heritage.
I was subsequently asked if I would turn one of the Facebook posts into a blog for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, a civic organization with which I am involved.
At the heart of it all is a question as to what history is: what its study looks like and how we remember it. What I wrote is by far not the most eloquent piece I have read on the issue of Confederate monuments or historical memory – and there are many things I would revise. But I have decided to leave it as is. What I wrote allowed me to engage in conversations with people who believed “it’s just a statue,” about the larger impacts of historical memorialization.
Writing an inquiry on this topic deepened my own understanding, just as we want the inquiry process to deepen student understanding. As an educator and as the resident of a city where this issue is prevalent, I felt compelled to take informed action by contributing to the discussion.
Read my KFTC blog post here.
The American Historical Association compiled a list of statements by historians on the Confederate Monument Debate: https://www.historians.org/news-and-advocacy/everything-has-a-history/historians-on-the-confederate-monument-debate