Historians Take on White Supremacist Memorials: A Round-Up

Since the tragic events in Charlottesville, many scholars of Civil War memory have been on the front lines of a public discussion about the meaning of white supremacist memorials, and their future in our nation’s civil and collegiate landscapes.

You will find below links to historian-authored op-eds and blog posts, listed in alpha order by last name.

A few were written in the weeks before Charlottesville (noted with an *) and most others in the wake of it. Through them you can see the ways that this event has produced a sea change in public and historical opinion about these memorials.

As historians continue to write pieces about the symbols and structures of racism in American culture, I will update the page.

Single-authored op-eds and blog posts:

Anne C. Bailey, “[…] Today, Most of the Sites of the [Slave] Trade are Forgotten, New York Times (1619 Project, 2019).

Erin Blakemore, “The Lost Dream of a Superhighway to Honor the Confederacy,” The Atlantic

Michael J. Birkner, “Monuments ought to be considered case by case,” LancasterOnline

*Bill Black, “Celebrating Nathan Bedford Forrest is Celebrating White Supremacy,” MLK50

David Blight, “‘The Civil War lies on us like a sleeping dragon’: America’s deadly divide – and why it has returned,” The Guardian 

Bill Broun, “Why Confederate Monuments Should be Removed from Gettysburg,” The Morning Call

W. Fitzhugh Brundage, “I’ve studied the history of Confederate memorials. Here’s what to do about them,” Vox

Marcia Chatelain, “How Universities Embolden White Nationalists,” The Chronicle of Higher Education

Karen L. Cox, “Why Confederate Memorials Must Fall,” New York Times

Karen L. Cox, “The Whole Point of Confederate Monuments is to Celebrate White Supremacy,” Washington Post

Karen L. Cox, “The Confederacy’s ‘Living Monuments’,” New York Times

Jane Dailey, “Baltimore’s Confederate Monument was never about ‘History and Culture,'” Huffington Post

Jane Dailey, “The Confederate General Who Was Erased,” Huffington Post

Eric Foner, “Confederate Statues and ‘Our History,'” New York Times

Adam Goodheart, “Regime Change in Charlottesville,” Politico

Annette Gordon-Reed, “Charlottesville: Why Jefferson Matters,” New York Times Book Review

Sarah Handley-Cousins, “Falling Out of Love with the Civil War,” Nursing Clio

*Caroline E. Janney, “Why We Need Confederate Monuments,” Washington Post

Kevin M. Levin, “Why I Changed my Mind about Confederate Monuments,” The Atlantic

Anne E. Marshall, “Historian on ‘Confederate Kentucky’: Time to Remove the Statues,” Lexington Herald

Jim Marten, “Thoughts on Confederate Monuments,”  Historians@Work

Jon Meacham, “Why Lee Should Go, and Washington Should Stay,” New York Times

Keri Leigh Merritt, “Charlottesville and the Confederate Legacy,” Moyers & Co.

*Mary Niall Mitchell, “A Tale of Two Cities: New Orleans and the Fight over Confederate Monuments,” History.

Michael Leroy Oberg, “On Charlottesville, and our National Character,” michaelleroyorberg.com

Blain Roberts and Ethan Kytle, “Unsure about Confederate statues: Ask yourself if you support white supremacy,” Fresno Bee

*Jalane Schmidt, “Excuse me, America, your house is on fire: Lessons from Charlottesville on the KKK and ‘alt-right,” Medium 

David Shorter, “The Fragile Statues of Whiteness,” Huffington Post

Nina Silber, “Worshiping the Confederacy is about white supremacy – even the Nazis Thought So,” Washington Post

Manisha Sinha, “Heather Heyer is part of a long tradition of white anti-racism activists,” Washington Post

Manisha Sinha, “What Those Monuments Stand For,” New York Daily News

Dell Upton, “Confederate Monuments and Civic Values in the Wake of Charlottesville,” Society of Architectural Historians

*Susannah J. Ural, “Let us speak of what we have done,” Reflections on War and Society

Kevin Waite, “The largest Confederate monument in America can’t be taken down,” Washington Post

Kevin Waite, “A museum of Confederate statues could help end the American Civil War,” The Conversation

Jason Ward, “The Myth of Southern Blood,” Washington Post

Chad Williams, “Donald Trump: The Neo-Confederate President,” Cassius

Brendan Wolfe, “History Writ Aright,” brendanwolfe.com.

“Roundtable” articles and blog posts:

“A Monumental Discussion,” Emerging Civil War Blog. From this link you can move back and forth between posts by several historians.

*“Empty Pedestals: What should be done with civic monuments to the Confederacy and its leaders?” Civil War Times Magazine

“Historians: ‘Defending history’ is complicated in the U.S.,” CNN

“Letters to the Editor: The Confederate Memorial in Decatur, Georgia,” Decaturish. Letters from Joe Crespino, Julia Gaffield, and William S. Cossen.


“Charlottesville: Our Town, Our Country,” BackStory 

“What do we do with Confederate monuments?” Impolitic

Featured image of the August 16, 2017 candlelight vigil in Charlottesville, by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

12 thoughts on “Historians Take on White Supremacist Memorials: A Round-Up”

  1. The title of this page perpetuates the myth that the War of 1861 was fought between equality on one side and white-supremacy on the other. Racism is not what distinguished the C. S. A. from the U. S. A.

  2. At the American Civil War Museum in Richmond we’ve created a website that includes a document reader, a reading list, a blog series, and some forthcoming online exhibits. It’s a work-in-progress: we’re adding new partners, new resources, and blog posts will keep rolling out for the foreseeable future.


  3. Thank you for including us in your round-up. You do some great work.

    — Chris Mackowski, Emerging Civil War

  4. ECW had a long and serious discussion among its writers before we decided to create “A Monumental Discussion.” It was handled by our Editor-in-chief, Chris Mackowski, and I think our results prove the worthiness of the process. Thank you for including us in your links.

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