Selective History?

“I won’t disallow the White Soul its pleasure in celebrating Jim Crow and the Confederacy. I can only hope that those who celebrate a centuries long tradition of treason, slavery, rape, exploitation, and death own the blood on their hands. Why? Because a person cannot truly celebrate a thing without taking ownership of all its aspects…good and bad alike.”

The above quote made me think about history events that we celebrate, which public historians are more than likely involved with. Like 100 yr building birthday bashes or the 75th celebration of a company.

Do we take ownership of the good and the bad when we do public history? Let’s just limit the discussion to the American West. I would say that in many cases we do not, but does that make it bad history? Do we not learn from it? I do not know the answers, but I thought I would ask. I have a hunch that we only select the history that appeals to us, and whoever our constituents might be.

One thought on “Selective History?”

  1. The questions you pose, Brandi, are the same questions I found myself pondering upon reading for this week. I would agree with you that we don’t always take ownership of the good and the bad. And yet isn’t this how a discipline grows? The discipline and practice of academic history has evolved and has become much more accountable with the addition of new social history, women’s history, environmental history, etc. I guess the question that keeps popping into my head is that…could this also happen to public history? Can’t it also evolve as the practice grows?

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