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7: How We Remember the Experiments

The historiography that helped white supremacy survive the collapse of the Confederacy.


Episode Notes

In the final episode of Reconstruction, Rebecca Onion and Jamelle Bouie explore how American memory has shifted since the era’s collapse. They examine how white and black communities have assessed the experiments of that decade-plus differently, and how Reconstruction’s unresolved fights carry on in contemporary political fights.

Rebecca and Jamelle are joined by Richard White, the author of The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896.

Supplemental reading for this episode:
“South Carolina’s Black Elected Officials During Reconstruction” by Eric Foner, originally published in At Freedom’s Door.
“‘What if I Am a Woman?’: Black Women’s Campaigns for Sexual Justice and Citizenship” by Crystal N. Feimster, originally published in The World the Civil War Made.
• An excerpt from Nicholas Johnson’s Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms.
• “Never Get Over It: Night-Riding’s Imprint on African American Victims” by Kidada Williams, in Reconstruction and the Arc of Racial (In)Justice.

About the Show

The era of Reconstruction that followed the Civil War was our best chance to build an American democracy grounded in racial equality. Its failure helps explain why race, “states’ rights,” and the legacy of the Confederacy remain central themes in our politics today.

Don’t miss Rebecca and Jamelle’s previous podcast, The History of American Slavery.

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