5 questions about Free State of Jones; more bad news for the Lost Cause; Gettysburg park history; in praise of Clara Bow

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The much anticipated Free State of Jones movie starts on Friday! So let’s keep the hype rolling with this short interview with historian Victoria Bynum, featuring “5 quick questions” about Newt Knight and his legacy. The fourth question addresses what is likely to be one of the more controversial elements in the film: did he support abolition?

More bad legal news for the Lost Cause crowd: first, a judge has thrown out an appeal that sought to stop the city of Louisville from relocating a Confederate monument away for the University of Louisville. The work may commence, but the city plans to hold off until they know for sure where they will move it. The top contenders seem to be the Perryville Battlefield and a Confederate soldier cemetery. (Both make sense to me. I still favor contextualization instead of removal, but relocation to battlefields and cemeteries is better than some of the alternatives that have been presented lately, and contextualization still has the problem that most monuments will overpower small contextual signage). Meanwhile, in Virginia, the state Supreme Court has refused to take up an appeal of the city of Danville’s decision to disallow the flying of the Rebel flag on poles owned by the city (which was done mainly to get the flag off of a historic mansion owned by the city). In both cases, the Sons of Confederate Veterans helped lead the charge, so I have but one thing to say to them:

The Gettysburg Battlefield has a history beyond just that of the battle. Its history as a tourist site and park is much longer. Check out this short video with NPS historian John Heiser in which he gives an overview of the park’s history. As someone that has been there many times, I found the photographs the most interesting part of the video. Check it out:

And lastly,  for something completely different:

I’m a pretty big fan of silent movies, so I appreciated this piece today from The Guardian about Clara Bow, mega-star and cultural icon of the 1920s. Despite her fame, she was largely an outsider to young Hollywood’s in-crowd (although I think the essay slightly exaggerates the degree to which she was written out of film history). Her most famous movies were It, and the first academy award winner for best picture, Wings (I love them both, but The Plastic Age is also one of my favorites). If you’ve never seen them and/or are afraid of watching silent movies, give them a chance, especially the WWI epic Wings. I can almost guarantee she will win you over. I’ve shown clips from It to my classes when discussing 1920s culture, and it never fails to charm.

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