History graduate students, alumni, and professors working with Historians for a Better Future (HBF), a group that works to address contemporary problems by drawing on historical knowledge, met at the Women of the Confederacy monument an the Capitol Building in Raleigh to host the event “Free History Lessons” on Friday, September 8. The goal of the event was to teach passers-by about the history of the monument and inspire visitors to the Capitol to learn more about the historical context for Confederate monuments in general.
Participants held banners designed similarly to those used around 1880-1920, during a wave of Confederate monument building. Each banner carried a quote from a contemporary historian—Eric Foner, Manisha Sinha, Karen Cox, and Lonnie Bunch—addressing the history of Confederate monuments and their legacy.
The group distributed handouts explaining the history of the Women of the Confedercay monument in the context of the Lost Cause, a set of ideas that romanticized the Confederacy and downplayed the role of slavery in southern society. Confederate monuments embedded the Lost Cause narrative in southern civic spaces as a declaration of white political power.
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