Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Remembering, Forgetting

From a New York Times article on Southern colleges with confederate roots thinking about symbols of confederacy as they look "to appeal beyond the privileged white children of the South." From article:

"Some traditionalists say they fear that the name of the university's guest house, Rebel's Rest, will be next to go and that a monument donated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy commemorating Edmund Kirby-Smith, a Confederate general who taught at the university for nearly 20 years, will be removed.

"I think they ought to leave it the way it is," said Dr. David W. Aiken, an alumnus who is an orthopedic surgeon in Metairie, La. "I wouldn't be for changing anything. I think they're doing quite well. What is the purpose of making it a more national school? Do I want kids from California, New York coming there? Not really." ...

Across the country, colleges are trying to reposition themselves to attract more high-quality students and raise their national profiles. But perhaps nowhere is this more challenging than in the South, where university officials often find themselves struggling to temper Confederate imagery without alienating alumni and donors determined to uphold their heritage.

"The issue that all of us face is that alumni love to have the institution frozen in amber," said Gordon Gee, the chancellor of Vanderbilt University in Nashville. "The truth of the matter is that for an institution to survive, it has to grow, to look at the world as it is rather than how they want it to be." more

I want to think about these claims, what the confederacy means, and the desire to "uphold their heritage." And I want to think about US public memory about slavery in relation to public memory in South Africa after apartheid. I'll be returning to this.


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