The Hartsbrook School

Blog Author — Ethan Myers

9th Grade: Modern History

This block used the recent violence and aftermath of the demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, as a jumping off point to talk about the use, symbolism, and interpretations of historic monuments, as well as the specific historical moments they memorialize. We took in earnest the President’s rhetorical questions about where monument-toppling stops: what were Jefferson’s beliefs about slavery, and how did he square them with his inspirational words in the Declaration of Independence? What were Robert E. Lee’s views on slavery and the Confederacy? And, given his enthusiasm for reunification after the Civil War, why has he become a heroic symbol, for some, of the Confederacy and, for others, of racism? Such questions propelled us to a broader survey of the transatlantic slave trade and active resistance to enslavement. A tour of the Underground Railroad in Florence introduced us to the radical activism of residents of Florence in the 19th century, and to some of the same techniques we see in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Our course closed with a consideration of what we do with controversial monuments, and how we can best represent our nation’s past. ~Ethan Myers