I promise you, Confederate history is NOT being erased; Oh, and that Declaration of Independence is NOT an “original.”


Oh my gosh! Look at that man erasing history! NOT.

Quick thoughts on monuments in the news:

So, New Orleans has begun the process of taking down monuments, starting with one that is NOT a Confederate monument (no matter how it has been labeled as such by the media). They are set to remove three others that ARE Confederate monuments in the coming days. I really don’t have the desire to comment much on these types of removals, because I think I have made my position on this very clear in the past.  Simply put, I prefer contextualization and/or counter monuments (which is a powerful way of confronting and challenging the iconography of previous generations in a way that is in itself educational) instead of removal. Yep, you heard me right. I do not think removal is the best way to deal with this.

BUT removing them is NOT “erasing history,” it is an attempt to be honest about it. If I hear or read another person claiming this is an attempt to erase history, I am going to have a full on conniption fit. As I have seen other historians say, don’t worry folks, we are not going to be letting anyone suddenly forget what the Confederacy was and what it stood for, I promise you that. It is what me and a great number of other people are paid to do, and we do it passionately. Research and teaching about the history of the southern confederacy and the Civil War isn’t going anywhere, monuments or no monuments.

So don’t worry, hundreds of Civil War books are going to keep coming out every year, the Civil War is still going to get taught in class, more and more battlefield land is going to be preserved (which has only increased in recent years), and historians are going to keep increasingly getting involved in public history and on social media.

But you say, it is erasing older interpretations about the Confederacy and the Civil War, and replacing them with ones you don’t agree with. Nope. We may be correcting/challenging older interpretations, but we aren’t  erasing them. The fact that people once interpreted the Civil War in the ways reflected in the monuments is not going away either. It too is part of the story, and I can again promise you that historians are not going to let anyone forget how the Civil War used to be interpreted. This is called “historiography,” and every professional historian is trained in it. You can’t be a good historian without learning how events have been interpreted by others, and how that has evolved over time. In fact, the removal of these monuments only adds to the story that historians tell about the Confederacy and the Civil War. In essence, it is Confederate history continuing to be made today. The removals are now part of a story that will never be erased. So please just stop saying that history is being erased. Just stop it, please.

But as to the removals, regardless of mine or anyone else’s opinions, these decisions are best left to local communities that have the right to commemorate or not commemorate whatever they want to. Yet there are two things I find funny/hypocritical in the nationwide reaction to New Orleans’ decision. 1) We hear people say that today’s Trump protestors need to “get over it” and move on. Yet they seem to be the most vocal against these removals, which is ironic given that the placement of the monuments themselves is the product of people who couldn’t “get over” their loss in the war, and their attempt to reframe what it was all about. (The “Lost Cause.”) And 2) it seems that Republicans are the most vocal against these removals (like this clown pretending to be a southerner and running for governor of Virginia), which is ironic because they are supposedly the champions of letting state and local governments do most of our governing. So shouldn’t we let local governments/communities make their own choices about these monuments? I’m just calling for some consistency,  . . . again.

And while we are on the Lost Cause, yesterday was “Confederate Memorial Day” here in Alabama. Ugh. But I take it as a sign of progress that the ceremony marking the day at our state capitol building was attended by a whopping 150 or so people. Nice. It is a good thing we have these people around to remind us of the Confederacy, since its history would apparently just disappear if they weren’t here to remind us.

Lastly, and on a different subject: Another news story that is all over the place is that a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence has been discovered in a British archive. Unfortunately, the story is getting blown out of proportion and/or misunderstood by people that are apparently inspired by that stupid Nicholas Cage movie. My local news got it all wrong last night, as has been the case all over social media. This is not an unknown second “original” copy of the Declaration. It is a handwritten copy that was made on parchment in the 1780s, which is rare indeed, but not exactly an original and/or something that should set off conspiracy theories. Researchers believe it was commissioned by James Wilson (who was the signer that was treated so poorly and portrayed so inaccurately in the otherwise awesome musical 1776). How did it wind up in Britain? That seems to be mostly a mystery.

Philly’s new American Revolution museum opens; More big finds in Egypt; Trump’s history shortcomings bite him again; Dana Carvey’s history lesson on “maniac” presidents

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Just a few odds and ends on a Friday:

Philadelphia’s new Museum of the American Revolution opened this week with great fanfare and high profile speakers, including David McCullough. It appears that the new institution is strongly dedicated to telling an inclusive story, which sounds awesome, unless you are this guy. (As previously noted, I plan to be there next month, so my own review is forthcoming).

This week we got more news of big discoveries in Egypt, this time of a tomb containing eight mummies and thousands of carved figurines. The sarcophagi are covered with intricate and colorful drawings in red, blue, black, green and yellow and are well-preserved. Check out the photos. 

Trump’s ignorance of history has gotten him into trouble again, this time with our South Korean allies. (I’ll give him credit though, I heard him say something historically accurate today for a change when he acknowledged that as far as secretaries of the treasury go,  Hamilton would be a tough one to beat for best ever. You are correct, sir. Don’t get used to it).

And to leave you with a laugh: Did you see Dana Carvey on Conan last night? The man has still got it. He unleashed a string of his presidential impersonations, arguing that Trump is not the first “maniac” to inhabit the White House. Best bits: Trump bragging about our “tremendous” nuclear war and the size of our bomb bunkers, and what Nixon would have been like on Twitter. Enjoy.


Why Mercy Street is too important to let die


Well, today I am mainly posting just one thing, written by me, but I hope that you don’t see it as self serving. Smithsonian Magazine has graciously agreed to help add their weight behind my plea for the saving of PBS’s Mercy Street. In the article I wrote for them I did a brief review of the way that the American Civil War has historically been portrayed on film and television, concluding that Mercy Street was becoming our most important pop cultural depiction of the American Civil War, and thus is too important a show to let die. I hope you’ll give it a read and help share it on social media.

(And thanks to rockstar historian Megan Kate Nelson for helping edit the piece so I could make my best plea).

The show is about to premiere in the UK, one of its creators, Lisa Q. Wolfinger just won a Gracie Award for her production of the show,  and we’ve recently gotten some indication that she has had meetings with some cable networks about possibly saving the show.

Obviously, I am very passionate about this, so please share the article on your social media and lets #SaveMercyStreet.

Last of the Doolittle raiders; new info about allied knowledge of the Holocaust; CNN’s explores the “soundtrack” of history; Georgetown makes amends


Today is the 75th anniversary of WII’s “Doolittle Raid.” The men that participated in the daring bombing raid over Tokyo in early 1942 have been gathering yearly since 1946 to toast each other and the men that are no longer with us. This year, there was only one left. Check out this story about the raid, the tradition (including their toasting goblets), and the 101 year-old veteran who is now their last man standing.

We’ve also got some of those cool newly colorized pics of the Doolittle raiders.

Well, this just changed one aspect of how I deliver one particular lecture (ironically one that I just presented today in my Western Civ class). Newly accessed United Nations documents reveal that the WWII allies knew about the mass murders in the concentration camps (or “Holocaust Centers”) earlier than is generally assumed. (Although, this article makes the mistake of claiming that December of 1942  is “two-and-a-half years earlier than is generally assumed.” Um, no. I guess the key phrase here is “generally assumed” but 2.5 years is stretching the significance of the find.)

CNN has another original series coming up, debuting on Thursday. Soundtracks: Songs that Defined History “explores seminal moments in history by illuminating how music played an integral role in celebrating, criticizing and amplifying these seismic events.” Sounds great, but lest we get too excited, the list of events are all only recent American history, with the oldest events taking place in the late 1960s. I was pretty disappointed with CNN’s last series, The History of Comedy, as it wasn’t much more than current comedians sitting around discussing their favorites and how they influenced them.  I hope to see more historians involved in this project, as well as musicologists. Let’s see how it goes.

As you know, Georgetown University has recently acknowledged that their institution was financially saved in the early 1800s by the sale of over 200 slaves. Just a couple of weeks ago, there was a conference in the Louisiana town where most of the slaves were brought to after the sale. Now we learn that the university brought the descendants to campus for a ceremony honoring the victims, recognizing their forced sacrifice that saved the institution, and apologizing for the grievous deed that was ironically done by Jesuit priests. Georgetown has announced they they are going to give preferential admissions treatment to these descendants, the same as to the children of alumni. Discussions are also underway for an on-campus memorial and a scholarship program. Great ideas.

And speaking of universities and the enslaved . . . today is the birthday of my beloved University of Alabama. I’m glad to see that this short news blurb makes room for mentioning the enslaved laborers that played a large role in the early construction of the university’s buildings. As at many southern colleges and universities, research on the role of enslaved peoples on campus is pretty new and “hot” right now, and it is interesting to see how this is playing out at institutions around the country: from building name changes, to removal of monuments, to ceremonies and etc.

A couple of historical houses in the news; Prestigious award for PBS’s Mercy Street; Glenn Beck wants to prepare students to battle their college history profs; History of the White House Easter egg hunt


A few quickies on a Good Friday afternoon:

Did you see the awesome story about a woman that recently visited the house that she was born in, as it is now on display in the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture? The institution has it on display because it was originally built in 1853 as a slave cabin on Edisto Island, South Carolina. 86 year old Isabell Leggett Lucas was born in it and lived there with 10 other family members until she was 19 years old. Be sure to watch the video linked above to see her and her family visiting the museum!

And speaking of historic homes, but in a less inspiring story: The Shaifer House just outside of Port Gibson, Mississippi was recently pillaged by criminals that were apparently after the house’s structural beams, as well as bricks. What the heck?? This site is one of the most pristine and isolated locations associated with a Civil War military campaign. It is pretty difficult to get to, as it is on an unpaved dirt road that turns into a major mud bog after heavy rains (Trust me, I know. Several years ago some friends and I did a rather stupid thing and drove down the thickly mudded road in my Honda Accord after a heavy rain, even though we had been warned by locals not to risk it. Luckily we made it there and out, but it was touch and go. Bad decision, great memory). Built in 1823, it is along the historic road that Grant’s troops took after they landed south of Vicksburg, and the site of the first rebel resistance they faced as they marched northeast toward Jackson, with a view of  swinging back west and thus taking Vicksburg from the east. It was also the site of a Union hospital after the battle. It is a lovely historic site and a real treasure that is basically untouched by the modern era, and one of those places where you can really feel like you’ve taken a time-machine. That it is difficult to reach makes it all the more of a rewarding experience to visit. The people that did this need to be strung up by their entrails. If you have any info that might lead to an arrest, please share!

Mercy Street is not dead yet. A couple of weeks ago, show creator and producer Lisa Q. Wolfinger won a prestigious Gracie Award for producing the show (the award is named after the incomparable Gracie Allen), which celebrates and honors “programming created for women, by women, and about women.” Now one of Wolfinger’s hometown news channels has done a segment on her award and Mercy Street, so check out the interesting interview here. We also learn that she is busy meeting with cable executives to try and save the show. (As I have mentioned before, I have my own plea for saving the show that will appear soon on a higher profile site than my blog, so continue to stay tuned). #SaveMercyStreet.

Oh goodness, Glenn Beck and David Barton are at it again, trying to peddle their fake history nonsense. They have started a two week program, where for $375 students can get armed with everything they need to “set their ignorant professors straight on the ‘real’ history of America.” Beck promises, “Your kids will be challenged to go and find the documents to make the cases that they’re most likely going to have to make in college with their professors. I guarantee you the professors at college will have the wrong answer.” Um, bring it. You remember Glenn Beck, right? He is the guy that was such a nutcase that he got kicked off of Fox News, and didn’t even have to sexually harass someone to get fired. (Oh wait, do you get fired for that on Fox News? Depends on your ratings, I guess).

We will be treated to yet another White House Lawn easter egg hunt on Monday, but how did this tradition get started? Smithsonian has the answer. 

PBS’s The Great War finished strong, and WGN’s Underground broke the mold by trying something bold


Aisha Hinds as Harriet Tubman in WGN’s Underground

WooHoo! I had a fun time in front of the TV last night (I am ashamed to admit how long I was in front of it). First, the Boston Celtics (I am a long time fan) secured the #1 seed in the NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs (but this isn’t a sports blog, so that’s all I’ll say about that), then I really enjoyed the last episode of PBS’s The Great War, and lastly I was amazed that WGN’s Underground spent an entire episode solely on an abolitionist speech by Harriet Tubman. It was truly original.

All three episodes of The Great War were riveting, and perhaps one of the finest American Experience documentaries in years (and that is saying a lot, considering the high quality of most of their shows). It touched on a wide-array of homefront and military topics, and I was not disappointed in its coverage of Alice Paul and the Woman’s Suffrage movement. It also did a bit on the spread of Jazz to Paris by African American troops, though I would have liked to have seen more. Unfortunately, Theodore Roosevelt’s attempt to lead troops and Wilson’s rejection of his offer was strangely missing, as was Pershing’s trip to LaFayette’s grave. But the show was particularly strong in how it handled Wilson’s hypocritical treatment of dissenters here in the United States, and especially racial issues involving black troops, their enlightening experiences while abroad, and their hopes that serving their country in the name of democracy would help promote equality at home. Sadly, of course, those hopes were mostly dashed, and in often violent ways upon their return home. This was all handled excellently. Again, I can’t recommend these three episodes to you highly enough, so be sure to stream them online if you missed them. (I wouldn’t wait very long, however, because I am sure they will soon only make it available to paid subscribers). It is also available now on DVD. Trust me, this is one to own.

As for Underground. Wow. I did not see that one coming. The midseason episode took a major step back from the normally fast paced and heart thumping action scenes, and slowed things down in a rather unprecedented and daring way. As you know, one of the main characters this year is Harriet Tubman, although we have not seen her much since the season premiere. This episode was 100% just her, giving a speech to a gathered group of abolitionist in Philadelphia. No flashbacks, no interruptions (other than commercial breaks), just a 45+ minute speech by Tubman as portrayed by Aisha Hinds (Here’s an interview with her about the episode from the NY Times). It didn’t always work, but there were moments of brilliance that hit home hard, and it is the most screen time this amazing woman has ever gotten. Tubman did indeed give many speeches to groups like this as a means of fundraising for the cause, and as the show depicts, because she was a hunted woman, she could not give them in well-advertised events in high profile venues like other abolitionists. The writers had her focus on her life (especially as a young girl), her escape, and her thoughts on whether the movement should embrace the violent tactics of John Brown. But the boldest segment of all came after the last commercial, as the camera slowly (starting with a distant shot from the barn’s rafters) honed in on her face, until she finally looked directly at us, ending with words that unmistakably were intended as a statement about our current events. This moment felt a bit forced to me (they tried too hard to help audiences make the connection, if you saw it, you know what I mean), but there is no denying that it powerfully got the point across, and was a bold ending to a very boldly creative choice by the show’s producers. I’m guessing this thing will show up in classrooms all across the country.

Further, if you enjoyed this episode of Underground, keep in mind that this is the sort of thing you can encounter at many public history sites across the country, as first person interpreters do these kinds of presentations regularly. Some are pretty bad and frequently cheesy, many are very engaging, and some are downright brilliant. When it is done well, (as in last night’s show), it can be a very powerful and effective tool for delivering historical interpretation to popular audiences. So look for these kinds of presentations the next time you are at a history site, particularly if they are presented by reputable institutions, like the National Park Service.

Don’t miss PBS’s “The Great War!”; That time Theodore Roosevelt tried to get himself killed in France; Setting Little Round Top on fire; History’s most spoiled animals


I am not even touching today’s Sean Spicer story, it’s just too easy. And pathetic.

Did you catch the first episode last night of PBS’s new American Experience documentary about the United States and WWI, The Great War? Wow! So good! Part II airs tonight, and the finale on Wednesday. If you missed it, you definitely need to get caught up by streaming it from the PBS site and setting your DVR tonight. The film footage they have is mesmerizingly good and actually surprising (and sometimes stunning), the research and commentary solid (though perhaps a bit too unquestioning of Wilson’s choice to enter the war, and thus not much attention is given to the hypocrisy of asking people to die in a fight to “make the world safe for democracy” when we didn’t even fully have it here. But perhaps that’s coming), and the broad range of topics covered is impressive. I am anxious to see how well they deal with Woman’s Suffrage and Alice Paul, as well as if they touch on the war’s impact on the spread and transformation of Jazz. Seriously, don’t miss this one.

Also looking forward to how they deal with Theodore Roosevelt’s attempt to raise a regiment and personally fight in WWI, despite his advanced age. (The first episode has already nicely set up his rivalry with Wilson). In the meantime, Smithsonian has a good piece on TR’s attempt to go down in a blaze of glory in France.

If you’ve been to Gettysburg in the last few years, you know that the National Park Service has been doing an incredible job restoring the landscape to its 1863 appearance (if you haven’t been in a while, you need to visit again, it’s almost a completely new experience from just a few years ago). Yesterday, they continued the process by doing a controlled burn on Little Round Top. Check it out.

So you know how many have argued that the solution to the Confederate monument debate is contextualization instead of removal? Well, the University of Texas has figured out a way to do both with a Jefferson Davis statue. Its new placement in a museum has given them the ability to add more interpretation/contextualization than is possible with just small signage. What do you think?

More on Philadelphia’s brand new Museum of the American Revolution, I still plan to visit next month, so stay tuned for my review!

OK, fellow animal lovers, this one is for you: check out this list of “History’s Most Absurdly Spoiled Animals.”

Trump’s (apparent) foreign policy shift; A brief primer on the mess in Syria; Presidential War Powers; Historians weigh-in


The big news, of course, is the US military strike on Syria in retaliation for their use of chemical weapons. The cynic in me says that Trump only did this to deflect from all the scandals ever-threatening his presidency, and to demonstrate that he is not a “Putin-Puppet.” (The president must expect that many of us will be cynical about it, which points to the problem of being a serial liar). But there can be no doubt that Assad’s use of chemical weapons did require an American response, though I am not qualified to offer much of an opinion as to whether this Tomahawk missile strike was the appropriate one. There have been a lot of people pointing out that as a private citizen and as a candidate, Trump criticized measures such as these, with the inference that this is a case of hypocrisy (and many have downright said it, on social media and elsewhere). I give him a pass on this, as many men have discovered that their conception of things change drastically once they see things from the perspective of the presidency. Yet this is indeed a big shift in the foreign policy goals he elucidated as a candidate and up to yesterday as president. Many of his supporters that applauded his campaign promise that we would stop being “the policeman of the world” are confused by this action. Does it mean he has changed his mind about the United States’ role in the world and is coming around to a more Republican (and ironically Hillary Clinton) stance, or was it just an impulsive response to a horrific event? It remains to be seen, but now if we could just get him to change his mind about Syrian refugees.

With the US now poised to possibly become more involved in Syria, it is a good time for another brief  history reminder of exactly what the conflict over there is all about, and Newsweek has got you covered. 

And then there is the weighty question of whether the president had the legal and constitutional authority to launch the strike. Democrats were quick to argue that he does not have that authority, and that he must seek the approval of Congress. While historians and legal scholars generally agree that the Founders intended for Congress alone to have the authority to go to war (except in cases of self defense), obviously presidents of BOTH parties have done so without congressional approval, and even the 1973 War Powers Resolution seems to have a loophole for these sorts of “one and done” type of strikes. The best article I have seen today that tries to dissect this complicated question is this one by Charlie Savage for the New York Times.

History News Network has quickly put together a brief collection of what historians have said about the Syrian strike. I’m not seeing a lot of detailed responses elsewhere, however, perhaps it is because so many of them are busy cutting loose right now in New Orleans at the OAH conference!


WWI & the German plot against horses; Protecting against English zombies; The enslaved people that (unwillingly) saved Georgetown University; Gorsuch & plagiarism; #SaveMercyStreet petition;


Check out that gas mask!

Lots of stories out there about the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into WWI, (including this debate about whether we should have been in the war—-put me down for a “no”), but the most unique one I’ve seen is this piece from NPR that discusses the role of horses and mules in the war. The United States sold untold thousands of the beasts-of-burden to the warring countries, shipping them out of Newport News, Virginia. This trade was so heavy that the Germans made many efforts to stop it by killing the animals, including a plot to poison them while awaiting shipment in Virginia. Damn the Kaiser!

The Walking Dead just ended their season (it was a weak one that took way too long to get where it was going, but that’s not a history story), which is perfect timing for this news: It seems that English researchers have unearthed a discovery they insist demonstrates that about 1,000 years ago people in North Yorkshire were afraid of a zombie outbreak. Yep.

I am just going to keep my opinions to myself on these controversial (within academic circles) opinions, but did you see that conservative historian Niall Ferguson has offered up some reasons for why he thinks there has been a decline in history majors and historical literacy? (Ok, I will give this opinion: I think he is partially right and partially wrong. Catch me sometime at the end of a bar and I will expound upon that).

In 1838, Georgetown University sold 278 enslaved people in order to finacially save the academic institution. The descendants of those that were sold recently met in a small Louisiana town where many of their ancestors had toiled after the sale. Prominent historians like Adam Rothman of Georgetown gave them more information about the history of their ancestors, and a discussion was held about reparations and the ways the university should honor those people that unwillingly played such a major role in the institution’s survival.

Lots of talk about plagiarism in the news again because of Gorsuch. Academics seem divided over whether or not he committed an egregious violation, but put me down on the side that insists they’d never let their students get away with what he did. The bigger problem these days is that students seem to have no clue what plagiarism actually is, (beyond generally knowing they shouldn’t use a direct quote without giving credit). Does this even get taught anymore in middle and high school? I wonder.

A petition has been created to save PBS’s Mercy Street (I’m going to have more to say soon on a higher profile site about why we need to save the show, so stay tuned), it has only gotten a few hundred signatures so far, so sign it and pass it along! #SaveMercyStreet.

And speaking of television, Underground‘s latest episode continued to move things in interesting directions, including a conversation between Williams Stills and Frederick Douglass concerning how publicity about the Underground Railroad simultaneously helped and hindered the abolitionist movement, a minstrel show that flips the normal script (unrealistically so, but in a way that powerfully forces today’s white audiences to consider the ways these shows shaped cultural perceptions of blacks), and an exploration of how some black women could use their sexuality as a means of resistance. Further, John Brown’s violent form of abolitionism also continues to be an interesting plot point. This season is still not reaching the heights of season one, but it can if it reels in the Cato storyline and turns back to  Harriet Tubman and Ernestine (which appears to be the case for next week).

Trump & basic US history; Uncovering slavery at Madison’s Montpelier; Hemingway the Russian spy? WGN’s Underground & John Brown

Image result for trump history knowledge

I’ve been away from things for a bit again because of other projects (and grading tests!), but here are some quick hitters from over the last week:

As we all know, our last two presidents were well-read history buffs that infused much of their speeches with historical context and often let history guide them in policy decisions. That was not unique, as most presidents come to office with a strong base of historical knowledge. How about Trump? Um, not so much. Politico has a good review of all the times the so-called president has revealed his shortcomings in regards to basic US history (as when he asked if anyone knew that Lincoln was a Republican and yesterday asked the Women’s Empowerment Panel, “Have you heard of Susan B. Anthony?”—Though to be fair he was probably joking sarcastically). You’ll also get a good chuckle from this list of history lessons that Trump has offered up to the American people. Newsweek also provides “a brief tour through Trump’s questionable understanding of American history.” You know those videos that Fox News is prone to making of average Americans demonstrating a lack of basis US history knowledge? Hey Fox, I’m betting you could get some hilarious footage if you interviewed your president and asked him some of those questions. Do it, I dare you.

At James Madison’s estate in Virginia, Montpelier, (which is an awesome historical site, if you have not been there, put it on your list), they have been doing much work over the last couple of years to uncover and interpret the history of the plantation’s enslaved community (when I was last there two years ago a major archaeological dig was underway in the location of the slave dwellings). Now, we get this nice story from NPR about a researcher at the site who discovered while working on the project that she is descended from a man that was enslaved there. She’s now helping to build the recreated slave cabins.

History.com has a nice little piece on the 1867 purchase of Alaska by the United States. I have to admit, I do not give this as much attention in my US history classes as I should.

Was Hemingway a spy for the Russians? Getting a lot of attention this week is a new book that claims the famous author spied for both the US and Russia during the Cold War.

More accidental discoveries in Egypt: A life-sized statue that is believed to be of King Tut’s grandmother has turned up.

You guys been watching WGN’s Underground? I thought this week’s episode was pretty good, especially because events were put into the context of John Brown’s activities in Kansas and his brand of abolitionism. The episode featured a scene in which characters discussed the very real riff  that the fiery Brown caused within the abolitionist community over whether or not to embrace his violent tactics. I still hate the way the series is edited (they couldn’t even handle the basics of editing together a scene of people eating and talking around a table), and Cato’s storyline is very problematic (at best) and unrealistic, but this last episode starts to point this season in a better direction. Best of all was a bit of dialogue from an enslaved man in which he discusses how learning to read was a “curse.” It was a well written conversation that could have come direct from the mouth of Frederick Douglass. And speaking of Douglass, he will be making an appearance in next week’s episode. I guess Trump was right that the famed abolitionist ” is getting recognized more and more.”