By Kathleen Ann Clark
The historic reminiscence of the Civil struggle and Reconstruction has earned expanding cognizance from students. only in the near past, notwithstanding, have historians started to discover African American efforts to interpret these occasions. With Defining Moments, Kathleen Clark shines new gentle on African American commemorative traditions within the South, the place occasions comparable to Emancipation Day and Fourth of July ceremonies served as possibilities for African american citizens to say their very own understandings of slavery, the Civil conflict, and Emancipation--efforts that have been very important to the struggles to outline, assert, and safeguard African American freedom and citizenship. concentrating on city celebrations that drew crowds from surrounding rural components, Clark unearths that commemorations served as severe boards for African american citizens to outline themselves jointly. As they struggled to say their freedom and citizenship, African americans wrestled with concerns reminiscent of the content material and that means of black historical past, class-inflected principles of respectability and growth, and gendered notions of citizenship. Clark's exam of the folk and occasions that formed advanced struggles over public self-representation in African American groups brings new figuring out of southern black political tradition within the a long time following Emancipation and offers a extra entire photo of ancient reminiscence within the South.
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Extra info for Defining Moments: African American Commemoration and Political Culture in the South, 1863-1913
At a freedmen’s convention held in Augusta in January 1866, General Davis Tillson, who had replaced Saxton as the assistant commissioner for the Georgia Freedmen’s Bureau, addressed a convention of black leaders from around the state. In contrast to his predecessor, Tillson had rapidly established a reputation for opposing black land acquisition and withholding rations as a means of forcing blacks to enter contracts with white employers. He was also responsible for making the bureau in Georgia the whitest in the South—he preferred to appoint local whites as agents.
The marchers then made their way to Greene Street, home to many of the town’s most prominent residents—doctors, lawyers, and city officials. ∏∂ J At the heart of the parades in Augusta and other southern towns were the determined efforts of African Americans to define their citizenship. With slavery behind them, African Americans publicly set forth their claims to citizenship in the postwar South—a radical undertaking, given the ra- 32 celebrations of freedom View of Broad Street in Augusta, Georgia, where African Americans paraded on Emancipation Days over the years.
It must have thrilled black marchers to hold their heads high and shout slogans of liberty in places where they had formerly been expected to demonstrate deference and humility. ∏∞ Parade routes nearly always encompassed vital downtown avenues. In Augusta, celebrants regularly marched up Broad Street, the ‘‘soul’’ of the city, lined by banks, dry goods stores, furniture dealers, hotels, boardinghouses, tailors, and grocers. As they marched along the avenue—one of the widest in the country—celebrants passed before the pillars of local planter society—the Augusta Insurance and Banking Company, the Planters Hotel, and the offices of the Constitutionalist, a local Democratic newspaper.