As more Confederate monuments are coming down this summer, including a long-contested statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville earlier this month, we turn our attention to the debates swirling around these monuments—debates that are really about public history and our shared commemorative landscapes.
For today’s show, guest host Yuri Rashkin hosts a roundtable with historians Karen L. Cox and W. Fitzhugh Brundage, later joined by journalist and photographer Brian Palmer, to talk about the political history of Confederate monuments and what it means to remove them as Americans confront “the stories we tell about ourselves.”
Karen L. Cox is professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the founding director of the graduate public history program. She is the author of Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture (University Press of Florida, 2003), Dreaming of Dixie: How The South Was Created In American Popular Culture (UNC Press, 2011), and most recently No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Equality (UNC Press, 2021).
W. Fitzhugh Brundage is professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of several books, including The Southern Past: A Clash of Race and Memory (Harvard University Press, 2008) and Civilizing Torture: An American Tradition (Belknap Press, 2018).
Brian Palmer is a journalist and photographer based in Richmond, Virginia. He is the director of the documentary film Full Disclosure (2011) and won a Peabody award for his reporting on the radio story “Monumental Lies” from Reveal.
Cover images: “Lee Park, Charlottesville, VA” by Cville dog, public domain (left); “Covering over Robert E. Lee statue Emancipation Park 101 East Market Street downtown Charlottesville VA October 2017″ by Artaxerxes, licensed under CC-BY SA 4.0 (right)