Tuesday, May 30, 2006

First Post

This blog takes its name from an essay written by Stark Young, an Agrarian writer. The essay was published in the Agrarian manifesto I'll Take My Stand. Published in 1930, I'll Take My Stand was an anthology of essays that criticized modernity and industrialism, and waxed nostalgic for a more traditional way of life. It shouldn't be surprising that the book's contributors were all Southerners, and that the way of life that they pined for was the way of life associated with the antebellum South. It was this book that first got me interested in the mythology of the South.

Beginning on June 14, I will begin my thesis research on Confederate monuments in three Southern cities: Richmond, Stone Mountain, and the tiny town of Moulton, Alabama. From this research I hope to understand how myths of the South have changed in recent years. Specifically, I want to figure out how Confederate monuments have fared in cities in which there has been a dramatic demographic shift. According to the 2000 census, Richmond is almost 60% black. Stone Mountain, a city outside of Atlanta, is nearly 70% black. Both of these cities are home to two of the most famous cites of Confederate memorializing: Monument Avenue in Richmond, and the face of Stone Mountain.

Monument Avenue

Monument Avenue is a veritable Valhalla of Confederate greats. Looming equestrian monuments of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B Stuart, and Matthew Fontaine Maury. The story of Monument Avnue was only made stranger in 1996 when a statue of black tennis star Arthur Ashe was erected. He is memorialized in bronze wearing a track suit, his tennis racket held aloft, as he looks down upon three children.

Stone Mountain
Stone Mountain has aptly been called the "Mount Rushmore of the Confederacy." The mountain is the largest piece of exposed granite in the world. Confederate nostalgists decided to take advantage of the mountain's physical features by carving Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson into the face of the rock. In the second decade of the twentieth century, a group of men met at Stone Mountain and decided to revive the Ku Klux Klan.