White Supremacy, Monuments & Memory: Charlottesville in Historical Context

     UPDATE: venue change to ILC 120 due to extent of public interest in this forum.
    “The History Department is hosting a panel discussion on the recent events in Charlottesville and their historical context. Professors Susan Crane, Tyina Steptoe, and Katie Hemphill will speak on the history of white supremacist movements in the U.S., debates over Confederate monuments, and historical memory. All UA students, faculty, staff, alums, and community members are invited to attend. The discussion will be held Wednesday, August 30 at 5:30 pm 

    in the Integrated Learning Center 120. (underground, west of Cherry Ave.)
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    Carolyn Classen
    Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for Tucsoncitizen.com for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, www.southernazjapan.org (since Jan. 2013).


    1. Fascinating panel discussion tonight by these history professors, attended by about 200 people. Prof. Hemphill gave historical overview of the Confederate monuments erected mostly in 1900 to 1910, because South was first in poverty and rebuilding. No consensus between Southern Whites and Blacks after civil war, for Blacks the war represented freedom/emancipation but for Southern Whites it meant a “lost cause”. First monuments built in cemeteries, then later at courthouses & public spaces by United Daughters of Confederacy, followed by rise of white supremacists, Jim Crow laws and segregation. Prof. Steptoe (from Houston, TX) spoke of Texas’s 2nd largest # of monuments (178) to Virginia’s 223. The federal government supported desegregation in WWII and a desegregated military, with Blacks moving to North and Western states. 1954 KKK re-emerged. She spoke of Selma Alabama’s current re-enactments of Civil rights marches as well as Civil War battle lead by General Nathan Bedford Forrest (whose monument/bust has twice been stolen). There are 6 Confederate monuments in Arizona and why/when were they built? Prof. Crane then considered monuments in historical context, “the historical consciousness”, how people choose to remember history, the “collective memory” by different groups. People are now defacing monuments and de-legitimizing them, renaming parks, schools, highways. She remarked about Germany coming to terms w/ their shameful past of the Holocaust with monuments against facism, and the brass stolperstine plaques (on the sidewalks/streets, memorializing where Jews lived, and were taken & murdered in the camps). Questions from audience were about why were the Charlottesville demonstrators so angry?, what to do w/ Confederate monuments by SURJ organizer; any positive aspects of these statues?; what arguments can you use to educate & remove them?; should they be placed in museums, as history? what is the sense of America’s national narrative? (i.e. General George Custer statues, and Mt. Rushmore) and have the Germans come to terms with their past? Personal note: My husband got his Ph.D. from UVA and we lived in Charlottesville for 3 years.


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