-- Janet Maslin, The New York Times "A stunning contribution to the historiography of Civil War memory studies."
-- Civil War Times " Denmark Vesey's Garden reveals that the long struggle over how Americans remember slavery has been inseparable from the long struggle for racial justice."
-- Ibram X. Read more...
--Janet Maslin, The New York Times "A stunning contribution to the historiography of Civil War memory studies."
--Civil War Times "Denmark Vesey's Garden reveals that the long struggle over how Americans remember slavery has been inseparable from the long struggle for racial justice."
--Ibram X. Kendi " Kytle and Roberts's meticulous research, compelling writing, and thoughtful analysis are vital to our nation at a time when we were haunted by a history we need to understand more deeply."
--Bryan Stevenson "Eye-opening history."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review) In the tradition of James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me, a deeply researched book that uncovers competing histories of how slavery is remembered in Charleston, South Carolina--the heart of Dixie
A book that strikes at the heart of the recent flare-ups over Confederate symbols in Charlottesville, New Orleans, and elsewhere, Denmark Vesey's Garden reveals the deep roots of these controversies and traces them to the heart of slavery in the United States: Charleston, South Carolina, where almost half of the U.S. slave population stepped onto our shores, where the first shot at Fort Sumter began the Civil War, and where Dylann Roof shot nine people at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, the congregation of Denmark Vesey, a black revolutionary who plotted a massive slave insurrection in 1822.
As early as 1865, former slaveholders and their descendants began working to preserve a romanticized memory of the antebellum South. In contrast, former slaves, their descendants, and some white allies have worked to preserve an honest, unvarnished account of slavery as the cruel system it was.
Examining public rituals, controversial monuments, and whitewashed historical tourism, Denmark Vesey's Garden tracks these two rival memories from the Civil War all the way to contemporary times, where two segregated tourism industries still reflect these opposing impressions of the past, exposing a hidden dimension of America's deep racial divide. Denmark Vesey's Garden joins the small bookshelf of major, paradigm-shifting new interpretations of slavery's enduring legacy in the United States.
- ISBN-13: 9781620973653
- ISBN-10: 1620973650
- Publisher: New Press
- Publish Date: April 2018
- Page Count: 464
- Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
Those who fail to remember history
Robert Barnwell Rhett Sr. certainly had a knack for speedy reinvention. The Charleston, South Carolina, newspaper owner was among the most vehement proponents of slavery and secession before the Civil War. Yet only a decade later, he was denying that slavery was the main motive behind the conflict. Rhett helped lead the way for generations of white Southerners who propagated the “Lost Cause” myth: the gauzy tale of kindly slave masters who had fought only for states’ rights. It was a pervasive myth in white Charleston, where “willful forgetting,” as authors Ethan J. Kytle and Blain Roberts call it, became a way of life.
The married historians’ book Denmark Vesey’s Garden is a remarkable exploration of the radically different memories of antebellum Charleston that coexisted for 100 years. In white Charleston’s memory, your granddad wasn’t a slave trader, and slaves were happy “servants.” Old plantations were marketed to visitors as “gardens.” Black Charlestonians begged to differ. Immediately after the war, when it was still safe, they held citywide freedom festivals. Later, with Jim Crow laws grinding them down, they taught black history in segregated schools, quietly telling their grandchildren how they really felt about Old Master.
Starting with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the two worlds finally collided. Change was slow and fitful, but it was real. One emblematic example: A statue of Denmark Vesey, the leader of an 1822 slave rebellion, was erected in a public park in 2014, though not without contentious debate.
Kytle and Roberts caution against complacency in the face of racism. Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine African-Americans in Vesey’s old church in 2015, had visited the city’s historical sites ahead of the massacre—and learned all the wrong lessons.