Today, I have decided to tackle a political and social issue rather than education. Although this post is also educational. Recently, there have been protests from those who want to remove confederate monuments as they are a symbol of racism and hatred. However, these protesters’ opponents say that this is an attempt to erase our past. So, what are we to do? A friend of mine, Vincent Martini, had an interesting idea that I would like to share. He felt that the monuments should be removed and placed in a single, central museum for those who desire to see that portion of our history. In this way, we preserve the past, but this approach does not force people to look at monuments in their cities that remind them of the deplorable slavery and racism that has taken place throughout the US.
I think this is a compromise that many people may embrace, but I have another idea as well. If we want to preserve the history of the Civil War, we can do this through new monuments that celebrate the black / African-American heroes of the Civil War. What better way to remember this dark time in our history than recognizing those who overcame slavery and Jim Crow Laws. I have compiled a list of three people below, but I know there are many more. Please comment with your ideas for new Civil War monuments that celebrate unsung heroes.
- Robert Smalls was born into slavery and eventually was hired out to the ship, CSS Planter, which was used by the Confederacy during the Civil War. One night, Smalls and the other three enslaved members aboard the Planter stole the ship as the white soldiers went ashore. He sailed the ship north and surrendered to the Union forces. Smalls and those with him were free. Later, he met with Abraham Lincoln and helped to enlist over 5,000 black men to fight for the Union. He later became a US Senator and served five terms for the people of South Carolina. Source
- William A. Jackson was a slave in the home of Confederate President, Jefferson Davis. However, he was also a spy for the Union Army. Jackson provided information about supply routes and military strategy that Davis had discussed in front of him. He understood supply issues that were only available to someone close to the confederate leadership. Source
- Mary Elizabeth Bowser was an enigmatic woman born into slavery. Although some of the information about her cannot be verified, it is said that she may have been the best spy for the Union. She led a ring of spies for the Union and may have known Robert Smalls as she also worked for Jefferson Davis. After the war, she taught school for freed slaves and once shared her story with Harriet Beecher Stowe. Source
I recently completed my PhD in Education (Curriculum and Instruction) at the University of Wyoming. I have published multiple articles in peer reviewed journals and have a book chapter coming early next year. I aim to explore issues of privilege and equity of education, especially as they pertain to STEM education.