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Southern history



  • Ahmaud Arbery Holds Us Accountable

    by Jim Barger

    Nobody belonged to the salt marshes of coastal Georgia more than Ahmaud Arbery. His family’s roots there run more than 200 years deep. A native of those same marshes writes about who Ahmaud was, how well he was loved, and what his community must reckon with in the wake of his murder.


  • What to do about COVID? Start by Listening to People

    by Rachel F. Seidman

    An oral historian of medical care in the South observes that the current crisis shows weaknesses in the fabric of society that would have long been obvious to policymakers if they were more inclined to listen to ordinary people. 


  • Healing And Reconciling History 100 Years After the Elaine Race Massacre

    by J. Chester Johnson

    The author's realization that his beloved grandfather had participated in a racist massacre in Elaine, Arkansas led him to an unlikely journey of reconciliation with a descendent of one of the victims of that campaign of terror, and an understanding of the need for honesty about how heritage can excuse racism.



  • A Historic Life

    Friends and colleagues of Alabama historian Sarah Wiggins echoed certain refrains time and again, among them: “She did not suffer fools gladly.”



  • Michael Lind: The White South’s Last Defeat

    Michael Lind is the author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States and co-founder of the New America Foundation. In understanding the polarization and paralysis that afflict national politics in the United States, it is a mistake to think in terms of left and right. The appropriate directions are North and South. To be specific, the long, drawn-out, agonizing identity crisis of white Southerners is having effects that reverberate throughout our federal union. The transmission mechanism is the Republican Party, an originally Northern party that has now replaced the Southern wing of the Democratic Party as the vehicle for the dwindling white Southern tribe....



  • Garry Wills: Thoughts on the South

    Garry Wills is Professor of History Emeritus at Northwestern. His study of Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1993....Humans should always cling to what is good about their heritage, but that depends on being able to separate what is good from what is bad. It is noble to oppose mindless change, so long as that does not commit you to rejecting change itself. The South defeats its own cause when it cannot discriminate between the good and the evil in its past, or pretends that the latter does not linger on into the present: Some in the South deny that the legacy of slavery exists at all in our time. The best South, exemplified by the writers listed above, never lost sight of that fact. Where are the writers of that stature today in the Tea Party South? I was made aware of the odd mix of gain and loss when I went back to Atlanta to see my beloved grandmother. She told me not to hold change between my lips while groping for a pocket to put it in—“That might have been in a nigger’s mouth.” Once, when she took me to Mass, she walked out of the church when a black priest came out to celebrate. I wondered why, since she would sit and eat with a black woman who helped her with housework. “It is the dignity—I would not let him take the Lord in his hands.”