84. On Richmonds Transformed Monument Avenue, A Group of Historians Erect Rogue Historical Markers

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to museum archipelago I'm Ian. Elsner. Museum archipelago guides you through the rocky landscape of museums. Each episode, he's never longer than fifteen minutes. So. Let's get started on the past few weeks near the pedestals of confederate figures they used to stand on monument, avenue in Richmond Virginia, a new type of historical marker started appearing the markers have Moose of the trappings of a state erected historical marker, ash leathers, and an iconic shape. But there's no official logo, just a bright sun icon at the top text in the middle describing past event, and at the bottom, simply the words history is illuminating. You start looking at historic markers that were installed in the sixties, seventies, eighties across the south, not just in Virginia, but it's all across the south. They're so basically worded and the subject matter is so biasedly chosen history is illuminating is a group of anonymous historians from the Richmond area who as the confederate statues were being removed decided to use the format of those historical markers as a medium to talk about the black history taking place while those statues were erected as monuments to white supremacy. The anonymous historians started calling themselves. Rogue historians. We have had a lot of discussions around this and we consider ourselves broke because while all of our bosses appreciate what we're doing a lot of the issues that come across in history are issues where the laws narrative was talked for. So long in schools that talking about aspects that go against the loss caused narrative can often be devices in our society especially in the south and I know personally the organization I work for I regularly receive phone calls or voicemails from people angry that we're talking about black history or saying things along the lines. Lines of it's better not to talk about it. We've actually had a couple of Our signs defaced and we felt like it was safer for us as well as significant because the facts are what are important. Not Historians that are coming forward. The loss caused narrative permeates museums, historical monuments, and textbooks in the United States. The narrative casts the cause of the confederacy as a just and noble won the ideology has been used to perpetuate racism and racist power structure. Since the end of the civil war, the lock narrative was actually invented here in Richmond Virginia, there was a popularity of glorifying. The battles and glorifying the nobility of what happened in the civil war rather than acknowledging the loss or acknowledging the essential part of slavery that was played out within the civil war. The popularity of that concept just grew ridiculously and the united daughters of the confederacy joined in on this and popularized it across the south, putting it as the main screen form of education within textbooks as well as making it monuments risen. Risen across the south, the dodgers confederacy actually not only rose monuments to the confederacy, but they also actually rose a few monuments to the clan and one of the single densest and largest collections of confederate symbols was in Monument Avenue, a grassy purpose built, grand, avenue. In. Richmond. The first monument erected was a statue of confederate. General Robert E Lee, which as of this recording is the only confederate monument still standing on. On the avenue when it was rejected in eighteen ninety, there were no buildings around it. At the time it was constructed. You can actually see photographs to Google that have pictures of the Robert Lee Monument surrounded by people working in cotton fields. The whole thing about monument avenue. That's so interesting is that monument avenue has been a street of walking tours. It has been a street of people coming and walking down and. And remembering a glorified past that was taught to them in their textbooks and childhood and many people from outside of the south comes, Monument Avenue, and are taken aback and gas at how dramatic it is. It's these large out like larger than life monuments set up on huge pedestals with marbles. Stop Shire's around them that seem like something from ancient Rome with Jefferson Davis giving his I quit the federal, government? Speech. And all of these symbolism around, and they also have closed on that monument. I forget the exact wording, but it goes into detail talking about how he deserves the illegal rights to pass on the legacies that he knew to his children, and just it's fascinating the way that the sentence structure. So often just fall short of a full sentence. The the ideas just fall short of a full idea. The idea that you're fighting for space rights, not the state right to own slaves. It's these half ideas that are not fully constructed that caused really short winded debates because there's not many talking points beyond the short. Short ones people were taught in school. It's just been really upsetting to everyone in our group after years of pressure on July. Second Twenty, twenty Richmond Mayor Lavar Stony announced the official removal of most of the confederate statues on Monument Avenue. That's when history is eliminating started the way this initially came down was me and a friend who is the other lead organizer were talking on the phone one night after Lavar announced that the monuments for coming down. We said this happened and we initially had planned to write them ourselves and them in with the yard signs, we were just going to keep replacing yard signs. Signs on Monument Avenue and my partner and sign started talking to a few friends and they were really interested in the nine new. A couple of historians that we thought might be interested to, and we just kind of kept talking to people in everyone's was like this is what I've been wanting to be doing a group of rogue historians continued to grow. They communicate by attacks channel, bouncing ideas off of each other, the partnered with studio two, three, a local collective feminist printmaking studio to print zine, featuring the markers and a map of how the find them. There's about ten members in the group they're all. All. Different races, genders, sexualities, ages all of those different representations and there are people who in the group who wanted to participate in the Senate and have no interest because they are way too busy to participate in social media or anything like that I. Think it's important to just keep going back to everybody and saying he wants to participate in this or have an opinion, and let us know if you think this is a good idea or not. The name history is eliminating is meant to indicate that it is the act of setting history itself that can illuminate the present I choose to read it. History can be eliminating to the extent that the statues that used to stand on monument avenue teach history. When combined with tour guides, they teach the battle history and the aesthetics of quitting the federal government. That history has a lot of facts in it. But what might be more illuminating could be a discussion about the reasons for the war or the backlash against reconstruction when I came to them and told them, I wanted the name centuries eliminating. They were kind of taken aback. They were like I, I don't know how people are GonNa feel about hearing history. The word history seems like a bad word. So often, and it's so true that so often history has been manipulated and utilized to hold people down which so true in the loss caused narrated the people in our group realize that working in history and listening to the people getting frustrated and angry that if we take. Take

Coming up next