Historians on the Confederate Monument Debate

"History is what the present chooses to remember about the past." ~ Carl Becker (AHA President, 1931)

In the wake of the Charlottesville tragedy, historians across the country provided important historical context and insight to the public. The AHA compiled statements that our members, fellow historical societies, AHA Council members, and staff have made in op-eds, interviews, and other media conversations about the importance of historical thinking and knowledge within the current debate. The AHA has also released a statement on how these issues relate to the discipline of history.

This is by no means a full and comprehensive list. Please email Alexandra Levy, Web and Social Media Coordinator, at alevy@historians.org if you have an article, op-ed, interview, etc. that you think should be included in this list. 

AHA Resources

The Future of the African American Past Video Resources (August 2017)

AHA Council, Letter of Support for National Monument to Reconsruction (November 16, 2016)

James Grossman, “Whose Memory? Whose Monuments? History, Commemoration, and the Struggle for an Ethical Past,” Perspectives on History (February 1, 2016)

Carol Anderson, “K-12 Educators Workshop: The Long Civil Rights Movement,” AHA Annual Meeting (January 9, 2016)

Sarah Fenton, “AHA Plenary: "The Confederacy, Its Symbols, and the Politics of Public Culture,” AHA Today (January 9, 2016)

Stephanie Kingsley, “Plotting Freedom: Data Mapping Leads to New Visions of Reconstruction,” Perspectives on History (October 1, 2015)

Seth Denbo, “All History Is Local: Debating the Fate of a Confederate Soldier Statue in Maryland,” AHA Today (July 27, 2015)

Ernie Price, “Footsteps to Freedom: Rethinking the Legacy of Appomattox,” AHA Today (May 26, 2015)

James Grossman, “Historical Malpractice and the Writing of Textbooks,” Perspectives on History (December 1, 2010)

AHA Council Op-Eds and Interviews

David Bell, “Is It Still Okay to Venerate George Washington and Thomas Jefferson?Washington Post (August 17, 2017)

Kevin Boyle, “Charlottesville Violence Was the Result of Political Pressure Cooker, Experts Say,” Boston Globe (August 13, 2017)

Kevin Boyle, “Donald Trump's response to Charlottesville - too little too late?,” CBC (August 15, 2017)

Kevin Boyle, “Five books to shed light on America's problem with white supremacy,” The Guardian (August 18, 2017)

Tyler Stovall, “ Irena's Lamp,” Perspectives on History (December 2017)

AHA Executive Director Interviews

Goldie Blumenstyk, “When White Supremacists Descend, What Can a College President Do?Chronicle of Higher Education (August 12, 2017)

Jennifer Schuessler, “Historians Question Trump’s Comments on Confederate Monuments,” New York Times (August 15, 2017)

Michael Steele, “You Can’t Erase History. What Has Happened Has Happened,” Steele and Ungar Show (August 16, 2017)

Lucía Cohen, “La ignorante comparación que hace Trump de los generales sureños con Washington y Jefferson,” Univision (August 16, 2017)

James Grossman, “Monuments Removed,” CNN Newsroom (August 16, 2017)

Lindsey Bever, “Politicians Blamed ‘Both Sides’ during the Civil Rights Movement,” Washington Post (August 16, 2017)

Kristine Phillips, “Historians: No, Mr. President, Washington and Jefferson Are Not the Same as Confederate Generals,” Washington Post (August 16, 2017)

Judith Siers-Poisson, “Confederate Memorials Removed from Madison Cemetery,” Wisconsin Public Radio (August 17, 2017)

Rhod Sharp, “Listen at 1:26:15,” BBC Radio 5 Live (August 17, 2017)

Kellie Meyer, “Debate over Removing Confederate Statues on Capitol Hill,” Gray TV (August 17, 2017)

James Grossman, “A Historian Explains Why Trump’s Defense of Confederate Statues Doesn’t Make Any Sense,” ATTN: Video (August 17, 2017)

James Grossman, “Listen at 0:00:50,” BBC World Service Radio Newsday (August 17, 2017)

Nova Safo, “Are Confederate Monuments Important Works of Art?Agence France-Presse (August 18, 2017)

James Grossman, “The History of Confederate Statues,” Radio National Breakfast - AuBC (August 18, 2017)

Jon Schuppe, “Toppling of Confederate Statues Fuels Opposition to Other Markers,” NBC News (August 18, 2017)

Viviana Mazza, “E le statue sovietiche? Spostare I monumenti non cancella mai la Storia,” Corriere della Sera (August 18, 2017)

"Interview with James Grossman," Medi1 Moroccan Radio (August 18, 2017)

Interview with Jim Grossman, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (August 18, 2017)

James Grossman, “Weekends with Alex Witt,” Weekends with Alex Witt, MSNBC Live (August 19, 2017)

Kimberly Atkins, “James Grossman on Removal of Confederate Monuments,” C-SPAN Washington Journal (August 20, 2017)

Miles Parks, “Confederate Statues Were Built to Further a ‘White Supremacist Future’,” NPR Politics (August 20, 2017)

AHA Member Op-Eds

* Indicates former Council member

Yoni Applebaum, “Take the Statues Down,” The Atlantic (August 13, 2017)

Justin Behrend, “Steeped in Racism, Confederate Flag Evokes the Worst of Us,” Livingston County News (August 17, 2017)
Waitman Wade Beorn, "U.S. put its Silent Sams on pedestals. Germany honored not the defeated but the victims" (September 11, 2018)

Günter Bischof, “Why Not a Confederate Theme Park?New Orleans Advocate (August 20, 2015)

Adam Blackler, “White Supremacy on Campus: An Ahistorical Campaign of Racial Prejudice,” The Society Pages (March 14, 2017)

*David Blight, “‘The Civil War Lies on Us Like a Sleeping Dragon’: America’s Deadly Divide—and Why It Has Returned,” The Guardian (August 20, 2017)

W. Fitzhugh Brundage, “I’ve Studied Confederate Memorials. Here’s What to Do about Them,” Vox.com (August 18, 2017)

Edward Carson, “Confederate Monuments and American Citizenship,” Christian Century (March 22, 2016)

Jane Censer, “Historians: ‘Defending History’ is Complicated in the US,” CNN Opinion (August 19, 2017)

Julian Chambliss, “Don’t Call Them Memorials,” Frieze.com (August 17, 2017)

Marcia Chatelain, “How Universities Embolden White Nationalists,” Chronicle of Higher Education (August 17, 2017)

Christopher Church, “UNR History Professor’s Letter to Students about Charlottesville,” Reno Gazette-Journal (August 16, 2017)

Anthony Comegna, “Debasing Roger Taney,” Libertarianism.org (August 21, 2017)

Nathan Connolly, “Charlottesville Showed That Liberalism Can’t Defeat White Supremacy. Only Direct Action Can,” Washington Post (August 15, 2017)

Karen Cox, "Renaming a Building for McCain Doesn't Erase History," CNN.com (August 30, 2018)

Jane Dailey, “Baltimore’s Confederate Monument Was Never About ‘History and Culture,’” Huffington Post (August 17, 2017)

Rebecca Davis, “Condemning Racism Is a Start, But We Have Work to Do in Delco,” Delaware County Times (August 17, 2017)

Jerome de Groot, “Monuments to the Past,” History Today (August 17, 2017)

Catherine Denial, “Wrestling with America’s Past,” Galesburg Register-Mail (August 20, 2017)

Chris Doyle, “So, Do We Pull Down George Washington’s Statue?Hartford Courant (August 17, 2017)

Laura Edwards, “Why Confederate Statues Fails to Represent Southern History,” The Hill (August 23, 2017)

Jennifer Evans, “The Nazi Next Door—Make No Mistake, White Supremacists Live among Us,” Ottawa Citizen (August 18, 2017)

*Eric Foner, “Confederate Statues and ‘Our’ History,” New York Times (August 20, 2017)

Lesley Gordon, “Empty Pedestals: What Should Be Done with Civic Monuments to the Confederacy and Its Leaders?Civil War Times (October 2017)

Adam Goodheart, “Regime Change in Charlottesville,” Politico (August 16, 2017)

Annette Gordon-Reed, “Charlottesville: Why Jefferson Matters,” New York Review of Books (August 19, 2017)

John Gripentrog, “Distortions of heritage, history hinder progress,” Citizen Times (August 22, 2017)

John Gripentrog, “Facing up to hard truths of the Civil War,” Citizen Times (April 17, 2017)

Sarah Handley-Cousins, “Falling Out of Love with the Civil War,” Nursing Clio (August 21, 2017)

Jeffery Herf, “ Lessons from German History after Charlottesville,” History News Network (September 10, 2017)

Brian Hosmer, “Trauma, Reconciliation, and Historical Responsibility,” Reconciliation Annual Symposium (May 2016)

Kyung Moon Hwang, “Monuments Are Not Untouchable,” The Korea Times (August 30, 2017)

Mark Jacobson, “Rename US Army Bases for Heroes, not Confederates,” Defense One (August 17, 2017)

Caroline E. Janney, “Why We Need Confederate Monuments,” Washington Post (July 17, 2017)

Ibram Kendi, “What Would Jefferson Say about White Supremacists Descending upon His University?Washington Post (August 13, 2017)

Keri Leigh, “Charlottesville and the Confederate Legacy ,” Bill Moyers (August 17, 2017)

Jim Leloudis, “History Speaks on Intentions Behind Confederate Statues,” The News & Observer (August 23, 2017)

Earl Lewis and Nancy Cantor, “After Charlottesville,” Medium (August 22, 2017)

Patrick Lewis, “History Is a High Stakes Profession,” Kentucky Historical Society (August 15, 2017)

Stuart MacKay, “Those Confederate Monuments Are Built on Racist Lies. Tear Them Down,” iPolitics (August 17, 2017)

Nancy McTygue, “We Can Do Better: Lessons from Charlottesville,” California History-Social Science Project (August 14, 2017)

Keri Leigh Merritt, “Charlottesville and the Confederate Legacy,” Moyers & Co. (August 17, 2017)

David Motadel, “The United States Was Never Immune to Fascism. Not Then, Not Now,” The Guardian (August 17, 2017)

Carly Muetterties, “The Histories Told and Ignored at Cheapside,” Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (August 16, 2017)

Giuliana Perrone, “Confederate Monuments Always Embodied a White Heritage of Hate,” Haaretz (August 17, 2017)

David Perry, “Why It’s Important To Name The Nazis,” Pacific Standard (August 17, 2017)

Katherine Pickering Antonova, “How the British Defeated Homegrown Fascism—and How Americans Can Do the Same,” Washington Post (August 16, 2017)

Susan Reverby, “ This Doctor Experimented on Slaves: It’s Time to Remove or Redo His Statue ,” The Hastings Center (August 7, 2017)

Jon Sensbach, “The Face of Terror, 1931 to Today,” Daily Progress (August 16, 2017)

Daniel Sherman, et. al., “Tear Down the Confederate Monuments—But What Next? 12 Art Historians and Scholars on the Way Forward,” ArtNetNews (August 23, 2017)

Nina Silber, “Worshiping the Confederacy Is about White Supremacy—Even the Nazis Thought So,” Washington Post (August 17, 2017)

Manisha Sinha, “Heather Heyer Is Part of a Long Tradition of White Anti-Racism Activists,” Washington Post (August 16, 2017)

Manisha Sinha, “What Those Monuments Stand For,” New York Daily News (August 18, 2017)

Richard Steigmann-Gall, “How to Resist the Trump Administration: Lessons from Nazi Germany,” Huffington Post (January 5, 2017)

Richard Steigmann-Gall, “Star-Spangled Fascism: American Interwar Political Extremism in Comparative Perspective,” Taylor and Francis Online (January 6, 2017)

Richard Steigmann-Gall, “One Expert Says Yes, Donald Trump is a Fascist. And It’s Not Just Trump,” Huffington Post (July 18, 2016)

Paul Sturtevant, “Leaving ‘Medieval’ Charlottesville,” The Public Medievalist (August 17, 2017)

Jeremi Suri, “The Guns of Auguest ‘Locked and Loaded’,” American Prospect (August 16, 2017)

Marc Tucker, “Teaching History in Troubled Times,” Education Week (August 23, 2017)

Nancy Unger, “From ‘Sip-in’ to the Hairpin Drop Hear Round the World, Protests Can Work,” Nursing Clio (March 23, 2017)

Kevin Waite, “The Largest Confederate Monument in America Can’t Be Taken Down,” Washington Post (August 22, 2017)

Kevin Waite, “The Struggle over Slavery Was Not Confined to the South, LA Has a Confederate Memorial Problem Too,” Los Angeles Times (August 4, 2017)

Jason Ward, “The Myth of Southern Blood,” Washington Post (August 21, 2017)

Darin Waters, “Whose Story? Democratizing America’s Collective Historical Memory,” Mountain Xpress (June 16, 2014)

Victoria W. Wolcott, “Six Flags has taken down its Confederate flag. But that’s not the only legacy of Jim Crow at the park.,” Washington Post (August 28, 2017)

Timothy Wright, “Removing Confederate Memorial Will Not Erase Seattle’s History of White Supremacy ,” Seattle Times (August 21, 2017)

Jonathan Zimmerman, “The Civil War, Race, and the Whitewashing of History,” Newsday (August 14, 2017)

Jonathan Zimmerman, “In Charlottesville, Some on the Left Attacked Free Speech: Even White Supremacists Get to Talk without Being Hit,” New York Daily News (August 16, 2017)

Jonathan Zimmerman, “The Progressive Case for Keeping Confederate Statues Standing: We Shouldn't Cart Away Reminders to Our White Supremacist History,” New York Daily News (August 21, 2017)

AHA Member Interviews

* Indicates former Council member

Interview with Sean Adams, “Daytona Beach Removes Confederate Markers,” Daytona Beach News-Journal (August 17, 2017)

Interview with Jennifer Allen, "What Our Monuments (Don't) Teach Us About Remembering The Past," NPR Code Switch (August 23, 2017)

Interview with David Atkinson, “Before Charlottesville, Purdue Got a White Nationalist Wake-Up Call,” Journal & Courier (August 14, 2017)

Interview with Ed Ayers, "The Shifting History of Confederate Monuments," PBS NewsHour (August 14, 2017)

Interview with Ed Ayers, “Battle over Confederate Monuments Renewed after Charlottesville Violence,” NBC Nightly News (August 15, 2017)

Interview with Ed Ayers, “The History of White Supremacist Groups in the US,” NPR Here and Now (August 16, 2017)

Interview with Brian Balogh, “Shock and Outrage at University of Virginia after White Nationalist Rally,” NPR Here and Now (August 14, 2017)

Interview with Brian Balogh, “White Supremacists Don’t Just Arrive in Charlottesville. They’ve Always Been There,” Washington Post (August 14, 2017)

Interview with Brian Balogh, "Moral Leadership in the Wake Of Charlottesville," Christian Science Monitor (August 15, 2017)

Interview with Brian Balogh, "'Sadly, This Is Not New': UVA Professor Reflects on History of Racism in America," EdSurge (August 15, 2017)

Interview with Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “President Trump and the Alt-Right: A Test of Leadership,” NPR On Point (August 14, 2017)

Interview with Marty Blatt, “Reckoning with the Past: The Civil War and Its Role in Current Politics,” News@Northeastern (May 12, 2017)

Interview with *David Blight, “Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?,” The New Yorker (August 14, 2017)

Interview with *David Blight, “How the Cult of Robert E. Lee Was Born,” History (August 14, 2017)

Interview with *David Blight, “Stunned historians wrestle with calls to remove Confederate statues,” Boston Globe (August 21, 2017)

Interview with *David Blight, "Confronting Hate: Tolerance, Intolerance, and the Rise of White Nationalism," WNPR Where We Live (August 22, 2017)

Interview with *David Blight, “Racism in America: Should the U.S. Get Rid of All Confederate Monuments?,” Newsweek (September 9, 2017)

Interview with David Blight, Gerald Horne, Minisha Sinha, and William Sturkey,  "For Historians, the Business off Studying Monuments Like UNC's Silent Sam Takes a Toll," The Chronicle of Higher Education (August 21, 2018)

Interview with Fitz Brundage, "Protesters Knock Down Confederate Statute on UNC Campus," NPR Morning Edition (August 22,2018)

Interview with A'Lelia Bundles, "Trump Defiantly Defends White Nationalists, Provoking Fury," MSNBC (August 16, 2017)

Interview with Nathan Connolly, "The Statue at the Center of Charlottesville's Storm," New York Times (August 13, 2017)

Interview with Nathan Connolly, "Terror in Charlottesville," WYPR (August 14, 2017)

Interview with Nathan Connolly, “The History of White Supremacist Groups in the US,” NPR Here and Now (August 16, 2017)

Interview with Matt Drwenski, “Matt Drwenski at Houston City Council Public Forum 8/15/2017,” Houston City Council Public Forum (August 15, 2017)

Interview with Donna Gabaccia, “‘Say No to Hate’: Hundreds of Toronto Rally Decry Racial Violence in Charlottesville Attack,” CBC News (August 14, 2017)

Interview with Alexi Garrette, “Listen at 0:19:20,” BBC Outside Source (August 14, 2017)

Interview with Joy Hakim, "What Should Teachers Say about the Hate Speech Seen in Charlottesville?USA Today (August 14, 2017)

Interview with David Hopkins, “Midland College Professor Explains Recent Racially Motivated Rallies from Historical Standpoint,” News West0 (August 18, 2017)

Interview with Ann Keating, “Confederate Monument Stands on Chicago’s South Side as Questions Swirl around the Country,” Chicago Tribune (August 17, 2017)

Interview with Ibram Kendi, “Washingtonians Process Violence And White Nationalism In Charlottesville, Va.,” The Kojo Nnamdi Show (August 14, 2017)

Interview with Ibram Kendi, "Panel Discuss Family Repudiates Son Over Racist Charlottes Ville Rally. #Virginia #Breaking," CNN (August 16, 2017)

Interview with JoAnne Mancini, “There Has Always Been a Discomfort about the Statues,” Newstalk (August 18, 2017)

Interview with Glenna Matthews, “California Confronts Its Confederate Past as Monuments Are Abruptly Removed,” Los Angeles Times (August 16, 2017)

Mary Niall Mitchel, “A Tale of Two Cities: New Orleans and the Fight Over Confederate Monuments,” The History Channel (May 11, 2017)

Interview with David Nirenberg, “Why the Charlottesville Marchers Were Obsessed with Jews,” The Atlantic (August 15, 2017)

News coverage of Jenifer Parks, “Understanding Confederate Monuments: Crowd Hears from Montana Historians at Billings Library,” Billings Gazette (October 10, 2017)

Interview with Sara Patenaude, “Group Seeking to Remove Decatur’s Confederate Monument May Have Found a Legal Solution,” Decaturish.com (August 16, 2017)

Interview with Sara Patenaude, “Legal Questions Loom over Georgia Confederate Memorials,” Fox 5 Atlanta (August 17, 2017)

Interview with Christopher Phelps, “White Supremacists Have Been Emboldened by Trump,” Aljazeera (August 13, 2017)

Interview with Jason Phillips, “Heritage Vs. Hate: A Military Historian Explains Confederate Memorials in the Mountain State,” WV MetroNews (August 16, 2017)

Interview with Jason Philips, “Sunday Edition with Stacy Smith,” KDKA-TA Pittsburgh (August 20, 2017)

Interview with Jason Phillips, “Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval,” WV MetroNews (August 21, 2017)

Interview with Blain Roberts, “Southern States—and Trump—Resist Calls to Remove Confederate Memorials,” McClatchy (August 16, 2017)

Interview with Blain Roberts, “Unsure about Confederate Statues? Ask Yourself If You Support White Supremacy,” Fresno Bee (August 16, 2017)

Interview with Blain Roberts, “Fresno State Professor on Confederate Monuments: ‘It’s the Moral Thing to Do to Take Them Down,’” Your Central Valley (August 16, 2017)

Interview with Joshua Rothman, “#RaceNYT Video,” New York Times (Facebook video) (August 16, 2017)

Interview with Adam Rothman, "The Story behind DC's Confederate General Statue," WUSA9 Offscript (August 15, 2017)

Interview with Adam Rothman, “Confederate Statues Are Coming Down across America,” WUSA9 Offscript (August 17, 2017)

Interview with Ann Rubenstein, “Say No to Hate’: Hundreds at Toronto Rally Decry Racial Violence in Charlottesville Attack,” CBC News (August 14, 2017)

Interview with Jonathan Sarna, “Jewish Leaders Say Anti-Semitism around the Nation Is a Disturbing Trend,” NPR Around the Nation (August 16, 2017)

Interview with Howard Segal, “WVII Interviews Segal for Story on KKK’s History in Maine,” WVII Channel 7 (November 22, 2016)

Interview with Manisha Sinha, “FACT CHECK: Did Robert E. Lee Oppose Slavery?Daily Caller (August 15, 2017)

Interview with Manisha Sinha, “Why The North Honored Confederates: ‘These Are Not Just Innocuous Monuments’,” Gothamist (August 17, 2017)

Interview with Kevin Waite, “Does Los Angeles Have a Confederate Problem?KCRW Radio (August 16, 2017)

Interview with Kevin Waite, “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Removes Confederate Monument,” KPCC Radio (August 16, 2017)

Interview with Darin Waters, “The Future of the Vance Monument Pt. 1—A Closer Look at Zebulon Vance’s Political Career,” Blue Ridge Public Radio (August 8, 2017)

Interview with Darin Waters, “NC Confederate statue Debate Likely to Include Vance Monument,” Citizen-Times (August 16, 2017)

Interview with Kidada Williams, “A More Perfect Union? The Reconstruction Era,” BackStory (March 31, 2017)

Interview with Kidada Williams, “How Should We Deal with Monuments to Deeply Flawed Historical Figures?WDET Detroit Today (August 17, 2017)

Interview with Jonathan Zimmerman, “Confederate monuments Removed and Covered Up Overnight across the US,” The National (CBC News) (August 16, 2017)

Historical Society Statements

On Race and Medieval Studies, A Collective Statement by Medievalists of Color (August 1, 2017)

On Charlottesville and the Study of the South, Center for the Study of the American South (August 15, 2017)

Charlottesville and the Mississippi Flag, Joint Statement of Mississippi College Professors, Jackson Free Press (August 21, 2017)

Statement on Charlottesville, National Council on Public History (August 16, 2017)

Medievalists Respond to Charlottesville, The Medieval Academy of America et al. (August 1, 2017)

NEHA Statement on Charlottesville, Racism and History, New England Historical Association (August, 24, 2017)

ASALH’s Position on Confederate Monuments, Association for the Study of African American Life and History (September 2017)

Statement on Confederate Monuments, North Carolina Preservation Consortium (September 26, 2017)

Other Collections

"Charlottesville: HNN's Full Coverage," History News Network

Interactive Resources

See how historians are using the Clio app to offer interpretations of monuments and historic markers around the country, such as a walking tour of Richmond's Monument Avenue. You can join in this crowd-sourced guide to history in your own backyard.