Last Wednesday, January 6th, a day after Georgia elected its first Black senator, a mob encouraged by Donald Trump and his false claims of election fraud stormed Capitol Hill, resulting in at least five deaths. Despite widespread condemnation of these events, the F.B.I. revealed on Monday that it expects protests at all fifty state capitals in the days leading up to next Wednesday, when Joe Biden will be inaugurated as President. These events have drawn comparisons to coup attempts around the world, but also to the Reconstruction era, when white mobs inflicted violence on citizens and legislators throughout the South. To better understand the lessons of Reconstruction for our times, I recently spoke by phone with Eric Foner, an emeritus professor of history at Columbia, and one of the country's leading experts on Reconstruction. During the conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we also discussed the use of Confederate imagery by those who stormed the Capitol, balancing unity and punishment in the wake of terror, and the historical significance of the two Georgia Senate runoffs.
FILE - In this July 8, 2017, file photo, protesters carry signs in front of a statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson as they demonstrate against a KKK rally in Justice Park in Charlottesville, Va. A resolution on removing the Jackson statue is on the Charlottesville City Council's agenda Tuesday night, Sept. 5, 2017. The city's decision earlier this year to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee helped spark a rally of white nationalists that descended into violence (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File) The Associated Press
A Confederate monument that has long been a divisive symbol at the University of Mississippi was removed Tuesday from a prominent spot on the Oxford campus, just two weeks after Mississippi surrendered the last state flag in the US with the Confederate battle emblem. The marble statue of a saluting Confederate soldier will be taken to a Civil War cemetery in a secluded area of campus. Students and faculty have pushed the university for years to move the statue, but they say their work is being undermined by administrators' plan to beautify the cemetery. A draft plan by the university indicates that the burial ground will eventually feature a lighted pathway to the statue and that headstones might be added to Confederate soldiers' graves that have been unmarked for decades. "Moving the monument should be a clear stand against racism, not another embarrassing attempt to placate those who wish to maintain the university's connection to Confederate symbols," faculty members from the university's history department wrote in a joint statement last month.
The House has voted to ban the display of the Confederate flag on flagpoles at Veterans Administration cemeteries. The 265-159 vote would block descendants and others seeking to commemorate veterans of the Confederate States of America from flying the Confederate Battle Flag over mass graves, even on days that flag displays are permitted. After a mass shooting at a South Carolina black church last year, the state legislature ordered the flag removed from the capitol in Columbia. The House approved amendments last year to block the display and sale of the Confederate flag at national parks but a backlash from Southern Republicans caused GOP leaders to scrap the underlying spending bill.
Since then, The Charlotte Observer reports, historians have found handwritten notes of a June 1869 meeting when Charlotte aldermen approved remaining four streets for Confederate generals. Stonewall Street is the only significant one to survive to today. Nearby Hill Street was likely named for another Confederate general, Daniel Harvey Hill, who was born near York, South Carolina, was superintendent of the North Carolina Military Institute in Charlotte when the Civil War started, and died in Charlotte in 1889. Much of Hill Street was severed when the Bank of America Stadium was built more than 20 years ago.