History forum focuses on race, memory and the Civil War

Professor Dorthea Browder speaks during “Uncivil: Race, Memory, and the Civil War” in Jody Richards Hall auditorium on Feb. 2. Browder, along with fellow history professors, gathered to speak on the civil war and how it has affected the past and the present.

Ambriehl Crutchfield

Race, memory and the Civil War were the topics of discussion in the History department’s first public forum.

The forum began with reflections from four history professors who discussed ongoing debates and controversies surrounding the American Civil War’s legacies. Historians and attendees discussed the meaning of Confederate symbols in today’s society.

Professor Glenn LaFantasie specializes in teaching the Civil War and Reconstruction time period and hoped his opening remarks would make all attendees question their opinions about the removal of Confederate monuments.

While speaking on the panel, LaFantasie said he struggles with his personal opinions and the role he believes monuments play as a historian.

“I wanted the audience to understand the statues themselves, if they’re taken away, then history becomes invisible,” LaFantasie said. “But if they are there and properly interpreted, then we can understand their true meaning.”

During the panel, LaFantasie said he believes statues should be evaluated prior to erection based on their location.

The conversation became heated when a a man in the audience, Ron Hatcher, said society should not quickly remove the statues just because of current tension. Hatcher said he has been interested in the Civil War since an early age after learning about the individuals who fought in the war and the unrest it caused in America.

“I think, like so many historical things, we can interpret statues contrary to what the people that donated the money and made the erection possible,” said Hatcher.

Hatcher said he doesn’t believe racial tensions will improve without the sharing of opinions. He said he respects those who lost the war and were still able to re-establish families and businesses their communities could be proud of.

News reporter Ambriehl Crutchfield can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow Ambriehl on Twitter at @ambriehlc.