My journey through the culture of the Lost Cause and what had been (still is?) the cult of Jefferson Davis came full circle years after my initial visit to Beauvoir upon learning about the creation of the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library. This project was initiated by the Mississippi Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), which owns and operates the site, and through its lobbying efforts became a financial beneficiary of the State of Mississippi. On their own, the Sons were not successful in their efforts to raise money for the library. In fact, the money they raised was not enough to renovate the house, much less build a presidential library.
The original opened in 1998.
So the Sons lobbied state officials, especially then Governor Kirk Fordice, who confirmed his support for Confederate history during each year of his two terms in office by officially declaring April as Confederate Heritage Month…
All good things must come to an end. In case you hadn’t noticed, I have retired from writing entries for Pop South. Over the course of five years, I wrote more than 110 entries and, frankly, could do this full time. But I teach, and have been writing another book, and now must support it. I’m also writing on different topics over on my author blog. Join me there, if you wish. I plan to maintain this site for the foreseeable future, so that students and others can learn about how the South has been portrayed in American popular culture.
Thanks to all of you who have followed and commented on posts. It’s been a wonderful experience.
Black Camera invites submissions for a Close-Up focusing on hip-hop cinema. Cinema is an underutilized medium for critically engaging how hip-hop sonically and visually experiments with memory, music, and identity to articulate a post–civil rights Black experience. Where earlier representations of hip-hop cinema (such as the Breaking films and Wildstyle) focused on documenting its elemental aesthetics or conceptualizing contemporary black agency and protest (such as the “hood” film era of the early and mid-1990s), there is still room to consider how hip-hop cinema stands as a curator of race, identity, and performance in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This call for submissions looks to break new ground in identifying how film helps visualize and navigate hip-hop’s increasingly ambiguous intersections of race, identity, and commercial appeal. In other words, how does hip-hop cinema redress and/or link critical depictions of Blackness in the…
It’s an exciting time for historians, especially as we get nearer to the opening of the film “Free State of Jones” on June 24th. Part of the excitement has been generated by the marketing of the film (including during Game 7 of the NBA Finals!), but also the real sense that the history is being told as carefully as possible through the medium of film, which doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to telling “the true story.”
Below are some links that will assist you in learning more about the story behind the film Free State of Jones.
Author and historian Victoria Bynum’s interview about Jones County, the Civil War, the Knight Company and other interesting facts about the Free State of Jones is available on Mississippi Public Broadcasting.
The New York Times calls this a “film with footnotes,” a reference to the intensive research that went into the making of the movie. Learn about the history in this extensive website that accompanies the movie.
My friend and fellow historian, Victoria Bynum talks here about The Free State of Jones, the movie that is based on her superb book. Buy the book, watch the film, and learn something new about the Civil War.
It’s been forty years since I first saw the name “Newton Knight” in the footnotes of a Civil War history textbook as I headed home for the holidays on a greyhound bus northbound from San Diego to Monterey, California. Since that moment, I have thought about, researched, written, and talked about, the meaning of Jones County, Mississippi’s insurrection to the Civil War Era that our nation still struggles to understand.
Since 1992, I’ve published numerous works on Southern Unionism, opposition to the Confederacy, and the associated Civil War themes of guerrilla networks, women’s participation in home front uprisings, collaboration across racial lines, and retaliatory violence by Confederate militia and home front vigilantes.
I recently had the pleasure to attend a preview screening of The Free State of Jones. The movie unflinchingly depicts the…
As you’ve probably noticed, there have been some changes here at Pop South. The blog has a new look and the menu has been culled of all the details of my professional work. I’ve placed that material on my new author website, which I hope you’ll check out and follow. I’ve got a new book in the works–a true crime story set in 1932 Natchez, Mississippi–that I’ll be blogging about over there.
Thank you for your continued support of this blog. I don’t write with as much frequency, but once in awhile I’ll have a flurry of posts, so be on the lookout!
When I read your reflection in The American Conservative I was so sorry to hear that you had mistaken the museum at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello for a monument to the Declaration of Independence. This mistake clearly caused much despair to you, and I suspect, to your unwitting children, who later found themselves flung headfirst into the depths of their mother’s folly before a crowd of annoyed weekenders. And so, though it was due to your own mistake, I offer you my sympathy and am glad to hear, for the sake of your emotional well-being, that out of the glare of national attention, on a lesser known property, Jefferson’s Poplar forest estate, you were able to receive the version of history which you most preferred. For the sake of people like you, if it would not be such a terribly expensive endeavor, mental health professionals might find it…
Unless you were living under a rock or don’t pay attention to such things, Beyoncé released a new song yesterday called “Formation.” The southern setting (New Orleans), Bey’s reference to her roots in the Deep South (Alabama and Louisiana), the entire song’s southernnass is all there, layer upon layer. Some call the song “gritty” and ask if Bey is an “activist.” And hashtags for days. #ISlay #sheslay #hotsauceswag and #RedLobster
As a southerner and a southernist I am excited by this song and video, but I can’t do it the justice it deserves. So, I am relying on the rich voices of others–black and feminist–to break it down for you. About its message and meaning and layers and importance. It’s a pop culture moment for the South, but so much more.
If you’ve never checked out Michael Twitty’s blog Afroculinaria, you’re missing out on an opportunity to learn about how African Americans contributed to southern history and culture through the food we eat and enjoy.
I can’t tell you how important I think food is. I’m currently at the 18th Southern Foodways Alliance conference in Oxford, Mississippi. Coming back to the world’s largest gathering of South-centric chefs, thinkers, academics, entrepreneurs, authors, students, artists, photographers and enthusiastic eaters you can’t help but be made more awake to the unifying pull of the Southern culinary journey. This year’s symposium asks a simple but penetrating question about the South of the popular imagination: “Who’s selling, who’s buying and at what price?” Presenters have come from across the country and the globe to talk about the meaning and import of Cracker Barrel, to sample food by the likes of award-winning chefs like Mashama Bailey and to see a shrimp and grits dunk tank.
The past is often read as a series of moments that we have left behind, unforgiving and simpler than the moments that make up our now…