Back to the Future?; legacy of the Reconstruction amendments; Ole Miss debates their state flag; Williamsburg going in the wrong direction?; the Bell Witch


So tomorrow is the future day that Marty McFly travelled to in Back to the Future II. To mark the event, CNN explores what the movie got right. Meanwhile, Time has a piece on what real “futurist” in 1985 predicted about our time period. Lastly, the Washington Post has a piece that I entirely agree with: the shame about celebrating “Back to the Future Day” is that it gives so much attention to a horrible sequel, and in doing so obscures what a fine piece of filmmaking the original was. Absolutely! (The only good thing about that movie is that it set us up for Back to the Future III, which was also a pretty good movie).

The 150th anniversaries of the Reconstruction amendments definitely deserve to get the same amount of attention as did the 150th of the Civil War’s major moments. Thus I am happy to see this news from the National Constitutional Center, announcing a “Second Founding Initiative that will undertake a five-year discussion to commemorate the 150th anniversaries of the key moments of the [crucial Reconstruction years].” “The bi-partisan initiative is committed to bringing together scholars, thought leaders, and citizens from diverse philosophical and legal perspectives to commemorate and debate the meaning of the Second Founding, the original understanding of the Reconstruction Amendments, and their contemporary significance.” We’ll have to keep an eye on this project! Meanwhile, The Atlantic has a piece on the amendments, focusing on how the rights they protected are still being contested today.

Tonight, the student senate at Ole Miss is voting on a resolution to stop flying the state of Mississippi’s flag on their campus, until it is changed to not contain the Rebel flag. As you can imagine, this has stirred up a lot of debate. Let’s see how the vote goes.

Who doesn’t find the Marquis de Lafayette to be interesting? There’s a new book just out about him by Sarah Vowell, so how about a list of “Ten Things You May Not Know” about him.

Colonial Williamsburg has taken some deserved heat lately for their new Halloween-season programming, which will apparently feature some of Blackbeard’s pirates as zombies roaming around the town terrifying visitors. If you regularly read this site, you know that I am a fan of both Colonial Williamsburg and good fun folk-lore ghost stories. But like many others, I am a bit disturbed with where they have taken Halloween this year. The new president recently wrote an editorial defending their programming, and in doing so received a new round of criticism. For instance, here Taylor Stoermer paints the whole thing as a “train wreck.” I have to agree with him (though perhaps less rigidly and condescendingly so). There are plenty of things that Williamsburg can do with fun ghost stories, folklore, and myths and legends (and they have done so very well in the past), but doing some historically inaccurate celebrations of Halloween and having zombies roaming around does leave one wondering exactly how much off-base the new president is willing to take Colonial Williamsburg in the years to come.

And for my just-for-fun Halloween season posting today: one of the most enduring and fascinating American ghost tales is Tennessee’s infamous “Bell Witch.” Just in time for Halloween next week, the A&E Network is premiering a 5 part series on the legend. (Although it will probably be a mess of a show).


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