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Top blue bar image The Movie Group
A student-led group project from HIST 246


May 2nd, 2011 by Kat Skilton

Congratulations all, the movie is officially viral.  I’ve just posted the move to youtube for all to enjoy/share/and review.  I still have all the original clips on my computer.  Check out all our hard work at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32OX7PQTmPs!


May 1st, 2011 by Kat Skilton

Hey Guys, I just finished our storyboard with the updated script that can be accessed on the writeboard.  The Storyboard is available in the dropbox, and I’ll be emailing it to Dr. McDaniel to have a look before we start the editing on the video.

The Albatross of Slavery

April 21st, 2011 by Kat Skilton

Right now the movie group looks to be on really stable ground.  As we decided to split off this week, Stephanie and Adam were hard at work on the script while Gaby and I began to work at gathering the visuals that we will need for the video.  Importantly, we were able to rent out a digital recorder from the DMC to start taking some high quality video of the Dowling statue and its surroundings. While our first attempt at this did not go over well because I forgot to rent a tripod, our second attempt looks much better and more steady.  I have backed up those video files on my own computer and on the dropbox in the folder titled, “Video.”  While Gaby and I were at the statue, I also took the liberty to take many still images of the statue that I will be uploading to owl-space tomorrow morning for the entire class to use.  I am also continuing to search for visuals in the Dowling archived material we have, so that we might be able to highlight the resources of the greater archive.

Based on the reading for this week, I believe that it is possible to commemorate the Civil War in the south without insulting black Southerners; however, I do acknowledge that it is a delicate matter.  None of the groups covered in our readings of Horowitz or Brown managed to commemorate without insult, with the individuals covered by Horwitz committing much greater flubs than the individuals covered by Brown.  In the Horwitz case, the individuals appear to worship the Civil War and revere it as a religious experience. These individuals described carry on worshiping their ancestors and Confederate heroes with little regard to the nature or implications of their fight.  By completely forgetting these issues, the members of the Confederate heritage associates listed by Horwitz not only deny a crucial piece of their own history, but also provide an inaccurate portrayal history to the next generation. This is best illustrated by the creed of the C. of C. (Children of the Confederacy), in which the children are led in unison to recite, “(..) The War Between the states was not a REBELLION nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery,” (Horwitz, 37). While this does carry on the ideology to the next generation,  it also absolves them and their ancestors from sin against the slaves they enslaved.

The Brown piece on the remembrance of Robert E. Lee presents a better example of how individuals might begin to remember their heritage without insulting others, however, it too is not without reproach.  Brown describes how Lee came to be a symbol of the Civil War for his heroism and example of reconciliation.  Lee represented a character within the war that symbolized the “whole South’s better self; that finer part which the world not always sees,” (Brown, 80).  His heroism and strategic skills were not disputed by Northerners following the War, his participation in the Cause of the Civil War and the devotion to slavery appears weak and many emphasized Lee’s choice of not being one of rational decision, but instead the heart and family.  This apolitical interpretation of Lee only contributed to his appeal in the North as well.   As the South rose to remember the man upon his death few concerns were raised as to the rightness of proper treatment.  However even in this remembrance of a soldier and hero, few measures were taken to avoid offending the Southern blacks and Lee’s involvement in the issue of slavery was overlooked.  Even in the creation of the statues, race relations were not carefully tread around as one statue can be analyzed to compare the master-servant relationship of Lee and his horse Traveller to the relationship of whites and blacks in a metaphorical sense (Brown 91).  Southern blacks were not happy with the very public commendation and recognition of Lee, and said as much in their own newspapers, yet they do not provide an explanation of how this issue might have been alleviated to allow for both commemoration and racial sensitivity.

In his conclusion, Horowitz presents the option granted by Michael King the black minister,  that Southern whites should, “remember your ancestors, but remember what they fought for too and recognize it was wrong,” (Horowitz, 44). While, this option may be a tad harsh it does present perhaps the best possibility for how one might be able to celebrate their ancestors without offending others. Perhaps not the extent that King may have liked, but acknowledgement of the sins of slavery not covering up the South’s involvement may be the best way to revere the past with respect to the present.  This does not mean that white Southerners must wear the albatross of slavery at all times, or even in every moment that they remember, but instead that they simply acknowledge the negative and admit to the silencing of the slave narrative that they do when they speak of a Confederate soldier devoid of the context.

Last Post

April 21st, 2011 by gl4

Kat and walked to the statue on Sunday to obtain footage of the monument and its surroundings and also to take some pictures. We decided that our video was too shaky to be of any use so we walked back on Wednesday morning with a tripod. Hopefully we got what we needed!! (Kat has the footage, so I haven’t seen it.) We will soon meet again to produce a storyboard and to begin putting the video together.

I think it is very hard to answer the question of whether or not it is possible for southerners to commemorate the war and their heroes without offending blacks. However, I do think that the first step is to make sure that facts are accurate and to acknowledge what happened in the reality. The “Catechism” that the Children of the Confederacy receive is riddled with inaccuracies and it paints a picture of slavery that no former slave would agree with. This document that children have to learn claims that slaves were “faithful and devoted and were always ready and willing to serve” their masters (37). The fact that they are twisting the facts to make something as terrible as slavery seem better to support their cause is extremely offensive to the black community. When Mercy lectured in class we talked about these children as “living monuments” and how these were the most effective because they carried on their version of history better than any statue could. This is quite sad because the children will grow to accept these “facts” and continue offending those whose families were enslaved.

While I think that it is important to teach children about their ancestors, it is when people go overboard that things become distorted. The people of Salisbury have become so obsessed with the Civil War through the practice of tracking down their ancestors. In an effort to understand what these men went through they have lost themselves in an idealized world that might not have even existed. Mike Hawkins says he prefers to read his books than to live his life at present. He claims that to him life back then seems “like it was bigger somehow” (30). He thinks that after the war the South has been reduced to a lesser version of what it used to be. The Curtsies are an even more extreme example because they have all but lost themselves in the war. Their whole life revolves around the remembrance and commemoration of the great heroes and has never even taken a trip that is not related to the war in some way (32). While this might not seem offensive in any way the reality is that they take their personal views on the war and they impart them on the town. Sue Curtis was the one responsible for “reactivation” of the Children of the Confederacy chapter in their town and the children are receiving skewed views about the war that they will later share with other people.

I do think that Southerners should be allowed to commemorate their heroes like Lee who has become the “most important figure in postwar imagination” (Brown 79) but they need to acknowledge all aspects of his life. It is commendable that he was unwilling to draw a sword against Virginia
(Brown 94) and that he was a capable commander that the troops were willing to follow. The problem appears when organizations like the Sons of Confederate Veterans when reciting a history emphasize only the favorable and not acknowledge that he like many other generals lost some battles (24). I believe that the best way to commemorate the Southern cause and point of view in the Civil War without offending anybody is to make sure that all the statements are as accurate as possible. In this way, the good exalted and emphasized, but the bad is not hidden.

Blog Post #12

April 20th, 2011 by adamz
Stephanie and I met up tonight and made adjustments to Dr. McDaniel’s critiques and we feel we have made some good improvements to our script. We are waiting on a final critique and suggestions from Dr. McDaniel, the Movie Group, and any of the other groups before we press the record button. We plan on finalizing the script and recording by Monday. Once we have recorded our script we will meet together as a group next week and work on putting together a storyboard and editing our movie.


I think the very end of Horwitz’s, Cats of the Confederacy, sums up the question of how we, along with Southerners should commemorate the Civil War in the South. Horwitz writes:

“The way I see it,” King said, “your great-grandfather fought and died because he believed my great-grandfather should stay a slave. I’m supposed to feel all warm inside about that?”

I asked King if there was any way for white Southerners to honor their forebears without insulting his. He pondered this for a moment. “Remember your ancestors,” he said, “but remember what they fought for too, and recognize it was wrong. Then maybe you can invite me to your Lee and Jackson birthday party. That’s the deal.”(44)

I do not believe there is anything wrong with commemorating the South’s war efforts and honoring one’s ancestors, but you need to be conscious of other people’s feelings and acknowledge that slavery was wrong.  Michael King was a young African-American preacher who lived in Salisbury his whole life and he clearly had some strong convictions on how he felt about white people remembering the Civil War.  King argues that white people should acknowledge what their ancestors were fighting for.  King wants them to recognize that and understand that it was wrong.  Regardless of how people in the South choose to remember the Civil War, there will always be offense taken by some people.

One thing we have learned is that people have personal views on history that have deep roots and will never change.  That is evident in the writing of Horwitz; some of the people mentioned in Salisbury define their life by the Confederacy.  Even the children were taught these deep-rooted values. A four-year-old boy named Warren prayed over their food, “Lord, we thank thee for this meal and especially for the great and wonderful Confederacy.”(38) Later on in the meal, the boy’s mother asked “Warren, tell this nice man from Virginia, is there anything you hate more than Yankees?” The boy replied, “No sir! Nothing!”(39)  The issue here is that certain people in the South like the folks from Salisbury do not consider the feelings of black people because they still hold the views of the Antebellum South.

Another thing we have learned and we must acknowledge is the Civil War was about slavery.  Reading Manning, Kornblith, and other selections has made that very clear, thus it is obvious why African-Americans take offense to certain forms of Civil War commemorations.  With that being said, any form of Civil War commemoration should honor the fallen soldiers who fought on both sides, but it should also acknowledge the four million slaves that were oppressed by the South.  Just like Michael King said, “Remember your ancestors, but remember what they fought for too, and recognize it was wrong.”(44)

Final Blog Post

April 20th, 2011 by slm2

This week, Adam and I have been working to make final updates to the script so that we can start recording as soon as possible. This has required me going back through some of my sources and answering the questions that Dr. McDaniel left for us on our writeboard. I am happy to say that we have a new and improved draft published on the writeboard, and as soon as we get the okay from Dr. McDaniel, we plan on beginning our recording–hopefully by Monday at the latest.

In the Horwitz chapter, he writes of Salisbury, North Carolina:

“I recognized the appeal of dwelling on the South’s past rather than its present. Stepping from my room into the motel parking lot, I gazed out at a low-slung horseshoe of ferroconcrete called Towne Mall, a metal-and-cement forest of humming electricity pylons, a Kmart, a garish yellow Waffle House…A few exhaust-choked bushes poked from the greasy asphalt.” (Horwitz 27)

Horwitz’s interpretation of his time in Salisbury is that given the choice between dwelling on the South’s present—poverty, dead-end jobs, dying industry, chain fast-food restaurants, and a poor education system—and dwelling on the South’s past—moonlight and magnolias, economic prowess, and the plantation system—who would possibly choose to dwell on the present? So southerners, at least according to Horwitz, have clung to the past as a way to have something that is worthy of the deep pride that fills the South. They have made the Civil War a glorious lost cause, and effectively indict Reconstruction and the North for the problems that face the South today. This removes collective responsibility for the war, and allows southerners to be proud of their heritage.

In my home state of Virginia, that pride is expressed through a love of Robert E. Lee, a love so strong that to this day, I would argue that there are few, if any, public schools in the state of Virginia that give an objective history of Lee’s life. Brown writes “By far the most important figure in postwar imagination of the Confederacy has been General Robert E. Lee,” and it is indeed Lee’s personal love for the Union but greater love for Virginia that has allowed Virginians to argue that the Civil War was fought for love of southern homeland rather than over slavery (Brown 79).

It is thus, perhaps understandable that the South views the Civil War in the light that it does, however, this is not history, nor is it grounded in reality, and viewing the war in such a light does nothing to help move the South into the future. Regardless of why Lee chose to join the Confederacy, regardless of why southern yeoman farmers chose to fight for the South, and regardless of what might have happened had the South lost, the fact remains that the Civil War can be traced back to slavery. We have read about this reality this semester in Manning and although many of us struggled with Kornblith’s article, he too showed the importance of slavery in the coming of the Civil War. These authors are not alone, and many other historians have shown time and again that the true root of the Civil War was slavery, plain and simple. The southerners who we have learned about in Horwitz’s article, the members of Confederate Heritage groups who have argued for the existence of Black Confederates, and the many people throughout the South who have argued that slavery was not the focus of the war are missing the historical truth in an effort to take pride in southern heritage. This southern heritage that has been idealized is a beautiful image that manages to ignore the millions of African-Americans who were held in bondage with their basic human rights ignored. The legacy of slavery and the tragic segregation that followed continue to affect American race relations and the lives of millions of African-Americans in this country. To celebrate the “Old South,” to salute and pledge allegiance to the Confederate flag is to wish for a time in which millions of African-Americans were enslaved. As Michael King told Horwitz, “The way I see it, your great-grandfather fought and died because he believed my great-grandfather should stay a slave. I’m supposed to feel all warm inside about that?” (Horwitz 44). You cannot have the antebellum South without slavery, and you cannot long for the “lost cause” without accepting that had the Confederacy won the war, slavery would have continued.

With that being said, as we are 150 years past the start of the Civil War. I do believe that the Civil War should be remembered. It remains one of the most crucial parts of the story of America, and understanding our past is integral to making our future better and stronger. Also, as a history major, I obviously feel strongly that the past should be studied and truly remembered, even if only for knowledge’s sake. Yet perhaps the war should be viewed as the Minneapolis Tribune viewed Robert E. Lee when his monument was dedicated, “He [Lee] was solemnly sworn to the defense of the Government. At the time when his services were most needed he deserted his post and took up arms against his country…He made a fatal mistake, and it is not likely to be condoned,” (Brown 97). Ultimately, Robert E. Lee may not have believed in slavery, and not all southerners who fought for the Confederacy owned slaves or believed slavery was right. But we have two options: either Confederates fought fervently to keep African-Americans in bondage, or in spite of the fact that they did NOT believe in slavery, southerners were willing to give up this principle and fight for the South—either way, I don’t believe that theirs is a cause worth celebrating.




Checking in

April 18th, 2011 by Caleb McDaniel

Hello all. I realize my late-breaking comments on your Writeboard script may have set you back a day or two on your timetable. Just wanted to check in to see how things are going so far–were you able to get the footage you hoped for over the weekend? Did you set more intermediate benchmarks at your meeting last week? Please let me know about your projected schedule so that hopefully I can comment in a more timely manner on anything you need feedback on. Also I’ve posted your contract here on the blog for our collective reference.

Movie Group Contract

April 18th, 2011 by Caleb McDaniel


Our group’s main goal is to make a short, five-minute documentary that focuses on the way Dick Dowling has been remembered in Houston. Has been remembered different ways over time—from a Confederate hero to an Irish Houstonian icon to someone who has largely been forgotten, but these memories have not yet been compiled. We plan to show change over time in how Dowling has been remembered, change over time tends to be THE issue that historians discuss (in the ceremonies around the statue, and lack of attention to it at certain moments). Additionally, we hope to explore not just change over time, but also to compare how different groups have influenced the Dowling statue. Time permitting, we may raise the question of the place of the statue in the city today. We want our documentary to be a visual introduction to the archive to give the archive’s visitors a glimpse of everything that’s there. We want to interest the viewer in looking further.


Adam—write a 2 page script that highlights major events in Dowling’s life and the battle of Sabine Pass.
Kat—write a 2 page script that highlights the making and first dedication of the statue.
Gaby—write a 2 page script that discusses what happened between the statue’s initial dedication and the re-dedication in the 1990s.
Stephanie—write a 2 page script that covers the rededication of the statue in 1997.

Stephanie and Adam: Record script
Gaby and Kat: Take live footage of the Dowling Statue

The whole group will work together on compiling the movie itself.

Some other small tasks (like making a writeboard for the script, making dropbox, etc) have been split amongst the group, really depending on who has free time when things need to be done.


(List any online services or software tools you will use, and provide specific information about the accounts that created them and/or where resources you are generating as a group will be located.)
– Drafts of scripts will be posted on Writeboard (see group blog for link and password).
– Final Cut Pro (all editable files will burned on a disk and saved on a server somewhere)
– All image clips and audio clips will be in the Dropbox


Script Rough Drafts—Due Friday April 8
Week of April 11: Compile and edit script
Weekend of April 15-17: Steph and Adam record script, Gaby and Kat go to statue to get footage
Week of April 18: Work together as a group to make a story board
Dead days/Exam week: Make movie (since we want to work together on this part as much as possible, we want to put it off until dead days when people have much more flexible schedules)

Final Movie due May 4.
*other steps and deadlines will be determined at group meeting on April 11

Nothing But Freedom

April 17th, 2011 by adamz

Eric Foner’s Nothing But Freedom: Emancipation and Its Legacy discusses the aftermath of emancipation and Reconstruction in the South by comparing it to the experience of Haiti, the British Caribbean, and early twentieth century southern and eastern Africa.  After emancipation in the South, the system of agriculture was in jeapordy due to a class struggle between the planters and the newly freed slaves.  Planters were focused on maintaining the production of their crops for revenue and their old source of labor – slavery – was now obsolete and needed to be redefined. As we discussed in class, the newly freed slaves wanted to have their own land and to be able to have control over themselves and their own family.  Both parties wants and desires resulted in a difficult struggle, but one that ultimately resulted in the popular system of “sharecropping”. Foner explains:

“The eventual solution to the labor problem in the post-Civil War cotton South was the system of sharecropping, which evolved out of an economic struggle in which planters were able to prevent most blacks from gaining access to land, while the freedmen utilized the labor shortage (and in many cases, the assistance of the Freedmen’s Bureau) to oppose efforts to put them back to work in conditions, especially gang labor, reminiscient of slavery.”(45)

Sharecropping was a compromise between the two parties where the newly freed slaves “rented” the land from the planters.  They worked the plantations and cultivated sustenance and cash crops, but gave a portion of their cash crops to the planters as their “rent”.  So, did freedpeople view sharecropping as wholly opposed to their interests? I would argue that no it was not wholly opposed to their interest, but it was not the ultimate freedom and independence that many wanted.  In essence, it was as good as it was going to get, a compromise. Foner posits:

“Sharecropping afforded agricutlural laborers more control over their own time, labor, and family arrangements, and more hope of economic advancement, than many other modes of labor organization. Sharecroppers were not ‘coolie’ laborers, not directly supervised wage workers.”(45)

Sharecropping did provide the newly freed slaves some degree of control and independence, but there were still limitations put in place to maintain the control of the labor force for agriculture. “Laborers leaving their jobs before the contract expired would forfeit all wages up to that time, and the law empowered every white person to arrest any black who deserted the service of his employer.”(49) Foner continues, “Finally to ensure that no economic opportunities apart from plantation labor remained for the freedmen, they were forbidden to rent land in rural areas.”(49) Freedpeople were forced to rent the land on which they worked and that satisfied their desire for land, but it did not completely satisfy their ultimate desire for individual autonomy.

Newly freed slaves wanted their own land and to have control over themselves and their family. Planters wanted to maintain a labor force to support the system of agriculture and sharecropping allowed for both.  Although, it was not the best situation for freedpeople, it provided them with a certain degree of autonomy for them and their family and allowed them economic aspirations that they once never had.

Project Update

April 14th, 2011 by slm2

Our group works so well together! Currently I am working on compiling and editing the entire script–I know that Kat and Gaby want to make a few changes on theirs, but I’ve been working to put everything together, and really make it into a narrative that is inline with our group missing for this project. Additionally, I’ve set up the writeboard for our script so that the podcast group can also see what we have been working on.

This Friday, Adam and I are getting together to record the script. We are going to try to keep it cut down into short audio files so that the audio is easier to put exactly where we want it in the movie. The script should be edited in its entirety by this evening, and Adam and I are recording tomorrow, so all in all, I’m feeling really good about this project and where we are headed!