'Revolution in Understanding': As Civil War Scholarship Has Evolved to Focus on African-Americans, the Tone of the War's Anniversary Should Be Markedly Different Than It Was 50 Years Ago
Galuszka, Peter, Diverse Issues in Higher Education
To Dr. Edward Ayers, a recognized expert on Southern history and president of the University of Richmond, 2011 marks the start of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and the emancipation of African-Americans. It's an important distinction based on the evolution of Civil War scholarship that has produced a fuller understanding of history, one that puts the role African-Americans played in the transformative conflict front and center.
The Yale University-educated scholar has written and edited 10 books including In the Presence of Mine Enemies: Civil War in the Heart of America, which won the Bancroft Prize for distinguished American history. He now leads a consortium of 15 institutions, including Virginia Union University, that is coordinating Civil War sesquicentennial events in Virginia.
Ayers spoke with Diverse about the role Blacks played in their own freedom, the context of the Civil War's legacy in today's equality struggles and the war's global significance.
DI: What's coming up with the sesquicentennial?
EA: The most important thing that has happened is that we changed the very definition of the event from the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War to the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War and Emancipation. That is the note we are striking. Once we recognize that we're not just talking about the 150th anniversary of the war but of the end of slavery of 4 million people, it takes on a different meaning.
It is very different from …
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Publication information: Article title: 'Revolution in Understanding': As Civil War Scholarship Has Evolved to Focus on African-Americans, the Tone of the War's Anniversary Should Be Markedly Different Than It Was 50 Years Ago. Contributors: Galuszka, Peter - Author. Magazine title: Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Volume: 27. Issue: 26 Publication date: February 3, 2011. Page number: 16+. © 2008 Cox, Matthews & Associates. COPYRIGHT 2011 Gale Group.
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