Kennedy perceptions vs reality; St. Paul’s & Rebel iconography; Woodrow Wilson ruined lives; Ozzy Osbourne does history; where did “Black Friday” come from?

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In the wake of the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, We’re History has a few pieces on JFK. None are better than this one from Sarah Katherine Mergel arguing that his presidency was not as accomplished as public perceptions would have it. Admittedly, I like the essay because it is basically the same take I give my students in my JFK lectures, although she doesn’t mention the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and I have a less positive slant on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Having just discussed Selma with my classes, the essay also reminds me of one of the issues I had with the recent movie about the event. If they wanted a president to be depicted as having to be dragged into embracing Civil Rights, it should have been JFK, and the story should have been Birmingham, 1963. Can we get that movie made?

Stepping provocatively into the debate at Princeton over Woodrow Wilson’s symbols and legacy, this NY Times Op-ed demonstrates that racism shaped much of his policies, and tells the story of how Wilson ruined the life of the author’s ancestor because of his skin color. Interesting read that you shouldn’t miss.

After months of deliberation, the congregation at Richmond’s famous St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has decided to remove or alter 23 symbols in their church that are connected to the Confederacy. This mainly involves removing Rebel flags or anything that is focused on “the cause,” but leaving alone symbols focused mainly on private memorials to family members. Nice work, but leaving behind window images of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee as biblical characters seems like a strange choice, as Lost Cause imagery doesn’t get more quintessential than that.

So what’s the latest on Ozzy Osbourne’s “history” show that will be on the  “History” Channel? Looks like he is getting around to a lot of sites and is headed to Pennsylvania. Again, I think this show would be a hoot on MtV or something, but it is more proof of the downfall of the History Channel’s credibility.

On Friday of this week, millions of people will lose their minds as they flood to stores looking for “Black Friday” bargains. But where did that term come from? Some say it has its roots in slave history (it doesn’t), and others in the fact that retailer profits go “in the black” on that day (nope). Its real roots are in Philadelphia and involve college football and law enforcement. 

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