Civil War Museum CEO: “This War Is Not As Simple As People Would Like to Make It”

Civil War Museum CEO: “This War Is Not As Simple As People Would Like to Make It”


SOLEDAD: NO OTHER CITY IS MORE
DEEPLY ENTWINED WITH THE CIVIL
WAR THAN RICHMOND, VIRGINI
ONCE THE CAPITAL OF THE
CONFEDERACY, RICHMOND HAS MORE
CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS THAN ANY OTHER CITY. IT’S HOME TO MONUMENT AVENUE, A
SHRINE BUILT FOR THE REBELS OF
THE SOUTH. NOW THE CITY IS TRYING TO
RECONCILE ITS PAST. THE MAYOR WANTS THE MONUMENTS
REMOVED. HE CREATED A COMMISSION TO HELP
ADVISE HIM ON THE FUTURE OF THE
STATUE
AND AMONG THEIR NEWLY RELEASED
RECOMMENDATION, THE STATUE OF
CONFEDERATE PRESIDENT JEFFERSON DAVIS MUST COME DOWN. ONE REASON, HE’S NOT FROM
VIRGINIA. THE REMAINING STATUES, THEY
SAID, SHOULD INCLUDE HISTORICAL
DATA TO PUT THEM IN CONTEXT. ONE OF THE CO-CHAIRS OF THE
COMMISSION IS CHRISTY COLEMAN,
AN AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN WHO’S
ALSO THE CEO OF THE CIVIL WAR
MUSEUM IN RICHMOND. CHRISTY: HISTORY HAS ALWAYS BEEN
PART OF MY WORLD. MY PARENTS EXPOSED US TO IT. WE USED TO SPEND WEEKENDS AT THE
SMITHSONIAN AND WE MOVED TO
WILLIAMSBURG, VIRGINIA AND
HISTORY WAS ALL AROUND US. ONE SUMMER I AUDITIONED FOR A
STREET ACTOR JOB AT THE HISTORIC
AREA AND THAT STARTED THIS
JOURNEY. REALISTICALLY THERE AREN’T VE
MANY WOMEN THAT DO CIVIL WAR,
AND THERE CERTAINLY WEREN’T
WOMEN OF COLOR. IT HAS BEEN 10 YEARS, BUT WHEN I
FIRST GOT HERE, THAT WAS ONE OF
THE HEADLINES. AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMAN TAKES
OVER CIVIL WAR MUSEUM. I SAID, OK HERE WE GO, HERE WE
GO. WE WANTED TO ELICIT A RESPONSE,
WE WANTED PEOPLE TO SEE
SOMETHING THAT WOULD STRIKE TH
TO THEIR CORE, WHETHER THAT IS
ANGER, CONFUSION OR CHAOS, OR
RAGE, WE WANTED THAT IN THERE. THIS WAR IS NOT AS SIMPLE AS
PEOPLE WOULD LIKE TO MAKE IT. AND THAT IS THE PART FOR ME THAT
HAS, THAT I HAVE GROWN TO
APPRECIATE IN WAYS I DID NOT
WHEN I FIRST CAME THROUGH THE
DOORS. ONE OF THE NARRATIVES AT THE
CORE, WAS THE IDEA THAT SOMEHOW
FREEDOM WAS GIVEN VERSUS EARNED. THE NORTH WENT TO WAR TO FREE
THE SLAVES — NO MENTIONING OR
REALITY OF THE GENERATIONS OF
AFRICAN-AMERICANS WHO WERE
FREEDOM SEEKERS THEMSELVES. NO MENTION OF THE FACT THAT
180,000 PLUS AFRICAN AMERICAN
MEN, MANY WHO WERE FORMERLY
ENSLAVED, TAKE UP ARMS
THEMSELVES. THE OTHER ONE THAT WE HAVE TO
DEAL WITH IS THIS IDEA OF THIS
NOBLE CAUSE. WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THERE WAS A
DRAFT FOR BOTH SIDES OF THE WAR,
SO THIS IDEA THAT EVERYONE IN
THE SOUTH WERE ARDENT
CONFEDERATES, IS ABSOLUTE
FOOLISHNESS. WE WANT OUR VISITORS TO REALLY
UNDERSTAND THE CIVIL WAR, NUMBER
ONE WAS NOT INEVITABLE. AND
THERE WERE NO REAL TURNING
POINT. IT WAS FOUR YEARS OF ABSOLUTE
CHAOS.>>DON’T LET THEM KEEP
DESTROYING MY CHILDREN’S
SOUTHERN HISTORY.>>IF THESE STATUES ARE YOUR
HERITAGE, THEN YOUR HERITAGE IS
HATE. CHRISTY: I DON’T THINK PEOPLE
ARE WILLING TO HEAR EACH OTHER. THEY ARE SO ENTRENCHED IN THEIR
POSITIONING THAT THEY ARE NOT
WILLING TO HEAR THERE MAY BE
DIFFERENCE. AND THAT IS WHAT WE STRIVE TO
DO. I THINK IT’S HEALTHY, WHAT IS
HAPPENING IS HEALTHY FOR THIS
COMMUNITY. BECAUSE THE COMMUNITY IS
GRAPPLING WITH WHAT IT WANTS TO
VALUE MOVING THROUGH THE 21ST
CENTURY. SO HERE IS THE GEOFF DAVIS
MONUMENT. WHEN I LOOK AT THE STATUES, THEY
DON’T HAVE THE SAME POWER FOR
ME. I UNDERSTAND THEM IN THE
ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH THESE
THINGS WERE BUILT. BUT FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE A TRULY
VISCERAL, EMOTIONAL REACTION,
YOU CAN’T DISCOUNT THAT EITHER. IF WE CAN’T UNDERSTAND THIS
AMERICAN CRISIS, AND TRAUMA, A
HOW IT ALL CAME TOGETHER, WE
CANNOT BE WHAT WE’RE INTENDED TO
BE. THAT’S MY IT’S IMPORTANT. THAT’S WHY I STILL DO WHAT I DO. SOLEDAD: DESPITE THE
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE
COMMISSION, CURRENT STATE LAW
DOES NOT ALLOW CITIES TO REMOVE
WAR MEMORIALS. AFTER THE RALLY IN
CHARLOTTESVILLE, THE STATE’S
GENERAL ASSEMBLY REJECTED BILLS
THAT WOULD HAVE GIVEN CITIES
CONTROL OVER THE FATE OF THEIR CONFEDERATE STATUES.

Comments

  1. Post
    Author
    Eric Wood

    To further your understanding of this topic, just watch Dinesh D'Souza's The Secret History of the Democratic Party.

  2. Post
    Author
    Barry Sorento

    In glad the North won, but the South were fighting for independence, not slavery. It's like thinking Russia fought WW2 only to spread communism, they fought because (like the Confederate States) they were invaded by a foreign army

  3. Post
    Author
    manvzq

    a major problem is education not only inthe schools but more so in the Evangelicals who do not stress the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself as taught by Jesus himself. They do not stress that every member of the human race is your race,your brother. They do not teach what it means to what it means to love your brothers as yourself. They do not teach how Mathew 25:34-46 gives instructions on how we are to carry out the 2nd Commandment. I promise you that you cannot be obedient to the 1st commandment to love your God with all your with all your strength if you are not obedient to the 2 nd commandment and all Christians know what that means. Thank you christy Coleman for your responsible dedication to your cause

  4. Post
    Author
    Harry Elliff

    I appreciate her willingness to look at the Civil War in a nuanced way even if I don’t agree with all of her conclusions.

  5. Post
    Author
    sknmrowley

    The south was fighting because the North invaded it. Period. If there were no invasion…there could potentially have been a negotiated settlement.

  6. Post
    Author
    sknmrowley

    It is inappropriate for a Civil War museum in Virginia to be a Northern perspective only. Sorry. Truth. No white man in the past would sacrifice his life for the freedom of a black man. Now maybe yes…but then mostly no.

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