". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Monday, May 29, 2017

David Blight Considers, Again, the Meaning and History of Memorial Day

     . . . . David Blight, renowned historian of the era of Reconstruction and Jim Crow, muses upon Mitch Landrieu's moving speech in New Orleans on the occasion of bring down New Orleans's white supremacist monument to the glorious lost cause of perpetuating and expanding slavery throughout the entire United States (and hemisphere, at least for the most hopeful and deluded of the secessionists), and the changing meaning for the country of Memorial Day.

It's in the Atlantic Monthly, here.

By the way, how many of us know that today's holiday is not the same as Veteran's Day, and that the first Memorial Day-- then called Decoration Day -- was instituted by African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865?  Blight has written extensively about this process in his laudable Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory

The Library of Congress preserves this photo, taken in 1865 while the African-American reconstruction of the cemetery in Charleston was in progress. The rows of markers are newly established individual Union graves.

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