The Knights Templar & the origins of Friday the 13th; exciting museum news; WGN’s Underground & the future of slavery on TV; Obama, Hiroshima, & public opinion

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Members of the Knights Templar being burned at the stake on a Friday the 13th in 1307.

It is Friday the 13th! Aren’t we all supposed to freak out and get worried? Nah. So where does the whole superstition about the day come from, and what is the connection to the Knights Templar? National Geographic explains it all, and in the process debunks the mystery and secrecy that surrounds the Knights Templar. 

The other day we got a sneak preview of the new Smithsonian African American history and culture museum, but today CBS has posted a video look inside and interviews with its creators. Looks like this facility is really going to be an incredible museum.

And speaking of museums, Philadelphia’s long-homeless Civil War museum has finally found new facilities for its treasures. By all accounts, what they possess is an amazing collection, but for well over a decade it has been in storage looking for a new home. Now we learn that it will get two. The Constitution Center in Philadelphia (which is an awesome museum) is going to create a display on the Civil War’s constitutional issues, mainly celebrating and interpreting the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments and will use the related artifacts from the defunct Civil War museum’s collections. As if that were not enough good news, the bulk of the collection will now be displayed and preserved in Gettysburg. I can’t wait to see what they’ve got!

So how about that season finale of WGN’s Underground? The last scene featured a cameo that jazzed up a lot of people and got us looking forward to the second season. If you have not seen it, I won’t spoil it for you, but if you have seen it, indulge in another look here. Now that the season is over, Christian McWhirter on Civil War Pop ponders whether it will inspire other Civil War era television shows. Hopefully so, but I hope it inspires more accurate depictions of the enslaved as resilient and resourceful survivors. Many reviews of Underground, like this one from the New York Times have noted that the brilliance of the show is that it provides good action-show entertainment which allows it the ability to “give the characters agency, and make them actors rather than simply acted-upon.” I would argue that that isn’t just an action show, thats an accurate depiction of slavery. The fact that non-historians don’t seem to view it that way is a product of how slavery has been presented to audiences in the past.  With the remake of Roots coming up at the end of the month, this trend of showing the enslaved as agents in their own life and as survivors should continue. It will be interesting to see if that miniseries can jump the high bar that Underground has now set.

This month, Obama will be visiting Hiroshima. Past presidents have avoided such a trip because they were afraid that is might be construed as an American apology at a time when the vast majority of Americans viewed the bombings as justified. The president does not plan to make any apologetic statements, but this article from the Washington Post ponders the connection between his trip and current opinion polls that show that the number of Americans that believe the bombings were justified has dipped considerably.

 

 

 

 

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