Race and Reunion

History Forum: Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory

Minnesota History Center

Join historian David Blight, Yale University, for a discussion of the post war years. In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, new black citizens began reaching eagerly for the freedom and equality promised by Emancipation. Meanwhile, white Americans strived to reunite by downplaying sectional divides, celebrating shared white sacrifice on the battlefield, and denying the presence and participation of African Americans in the war and society. When the U.S. Supreme Court freed the white supremacist killers of more than 150 black Republican militiamen in 1873, the path was set. The United States would heal without justice, and our national "reunion" would create a painful legacy that still haunts us today.

David Blight is the author of "Frederick Douglass's Civil War," and editor of Douglass's "Narrative" and W.E.B. Du Bois's "Souls of Black Folk," both widely taught in college courses. Blight has appeared in several PBS films and works extensively with museums and other public history projects. His book "Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, 1863-1915," won a half-dozen prizes, including four from the Organization of American Historians (OAH). He is also a Distinguished Lecturer for OAH.