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JeanneCrain

RECONSTRUCTION: America After the Civil War

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PBS - Mini Series – Following the end of the Civil War, former slaves forge new meanings of freedom and citizenship, check your local PBS listings. (Henry Louis Gates Jr.)

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6 hours ago, JeanneCrain said:

PBS - Mini Series – Following the end of the Civil War, former slaves forge new meanings of freedom and citizenship, check your local PBS listings. (Henry Louis Gates Jr.)

How about former slave owners forge new meanings of responsible citizenship and deal with the backlash of how they oppressed and marginalized other human beings. Let's apply a more liberal description to this, not a conservative description. Otherwise, you're just pushing modern day Republican propaganda.

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6 hours ago, JeanneCrain said:

PBS - Mini Series – Following the end of the Civil War, former slaves forge new meanings of freedom and citizenship, check your local PBS listings. (Henry Louis Gates Jr.)

Following the end of conversion, former gay men and lesbians forge new identities as heterosexuals and become proper American citizens. Check your local PBS listings.

***

That's what this description is really saying.

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This happens to be close to the title of a history book I'm currently reading; ("Reconstruction: 1863 - 1877 America's Unfinished Revolution", 773 pps)  and I chose it because it is authoritative in the field. Author Eric Foner is preeminent in this subject matter; I hope they consulted his materials when they produced this series. Foner is the son of another famous American historian I enjoy: Jack D. Foner, who documented the long struggle of America's labor unions.

Anyway the timeperiod in question is indeed, extraordinary in the vast, sweeping changes wrought upon the face of the country. America (prior to the Civil War), was a sleepy, agrarian nation much in the model that Thomas Jefferson once envisioned. Outside the cities, just a motley patchwork of scattered farms. Prior to the war, the USA had no standing army; no national debt; no taxes, no large-scale financial institutions; hardly any bureaucracy. All that was transformed between the Civil War and the dawning of the 1900s. Tremendous change.

I'm 160 pages in so far, and its really an eye-opener. So many of the insoluble social problems we grapple with today, stem directly from this crucial era when a lot of hasty decisions had to be made.

Hard to imagine how to turn it all into an entertaining multi-media presentation but I hope they do a good job. I wonder if the source credits are available on IMDb?

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It's a mistake to frame the struggle in simplistic terms like this: 'deal with the backlash of how they oppressed and marginalized other human beings'. For instance, take a look at something like the draft riots in New York City in 1863. That wasn't plantation owners. The whole country was torn apart and only slowly being put back together.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_draft_riots

Despite the work of abolitionists, even northern states and border states only slowly changed their laws regarding treatment of the negro. For years after the war, streetcars were segregated, blacks could not serve on juries or testify in trials against whites, or vote. All sorts of backwardism.

Plans and designs for how to reconstruct the nation --once the union was restored --began in the middle of the war and had a direct influence on the handling of the conflict. It was an extremely complex situation and although many people might be unaware of this, Lincoln vacillated quite a bit on how to go about it. There was even (briefly) a plan to relocate all former slaves to islands in the Caribbean.

As far as backlash: no one got off scot-free. There was misery enough to go around for everyone. The chapter I'm currently reading deals with a few aspects like this:

  • the US Government initially promised to grant every slave family 40 acres of land as a reparation; (but then the offer was withdrawn). Origin of the phrase 'forty acres and a mule'.
  • an enormous agency was established to manage the entirely new system of free-market labor that the South had to adapt to. In many cases, former slaves continued to work for their former masters, but now merely under a wage system. You can imagine the strife and confusion.
  • as the Union Army took possession of more of rebel states, blacks took to the roads in huge numbers. Under the plantation system of course, blacks could never travel anywhere. They now took huge delight in 'roaming at will'.
  • massive internal divisions in the black community itself: 'freedmen' vs 'former slaves' did not always see eye-to-eye on how to get along
  • Education: former slaves were rapacious in their hunger for books and reading. They devoured books and attended school in huge numbers
  • the growth of southern black Baptist churches took place in this era, many black congregations forming because (astoundingly) white churches still practiced segregation years after the war
  • former slaves were possessed of much misinformation. They believed their old masters were going to be tried in courts, they believed they now owned all the land they had ever worked on, they squatted in the plantation houses, etc etc etc
  • US Reconstruction was the largest ever dispossession of property and land, ever taken by any government towards its citizens. Plantation owners lost fortunes, and were never recompensed.
  • leading newspapers of the day were not always spearheading liberality; some headlines even in Northern papers were outlandish; wondering 'if freed slaves would work or if they would just lay around and expect to be taken care of', etc etc etc. This was the beginning of the country's welfare system and welfare problems.
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I prefer nature programs on PBS.

I watched the Disney nature movies on TCM recently. Enjoyed them, even one I'd seen before.

I wonder if the launch of Disney+ will impact what Disney Vault programs get to show on TCM?

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3 hours ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

It's a mistake to frame the struggle in simplistic terms like this: 'deal with the backlash of how they oppressed and marginalized other human beings'. For instance, take a look at something like the draft riots in New York City in 1863. That wasn't plantation owners. The whole country was torn apart and only slowly being put back together.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_draft_riots

Despite the work of abolitionists, even northern states and border states only slowly changed their laws regarding treatment of the negro. For years after the war, streetcars were segregated, blacks could not serve on juries or testify in trials against whites, or vote. All sorts of backwardism.

Plans and designs for how to reconstruct the nation --once the union was restored --began in the middle of the war and had a direct influence on the handling of the conflict. It was an extremely complex situation and although many people might be unaware of this, Lincoln vacillated quite a bit on how to go about it. There was even (briefly) a plan to relocate all former slaves to islands in the Caribbean.

As far as backlash: no one got off scot-free. There was misery enough to go around for everyone. The chapter I'm currently reading deals with a few aspects like this:

  • the US Government initially promised to grant every slave family 40 acres of land as a reparation; (but then the offer was withdrawn). Origin of the phrase 'forty acres and a mule'.
  • an enormous agency was established to manage the entirely new system of free-market labor that the South had to adapt to. In many cases, former slaves continued to work for their former masters, but now merely under a wage system. You can imagine the strife and confusion.
  • as the Union Army took possession of more of rebel states, blacks took to the roads in huge numbers. Under the plantation system of course, blacks could never travel anywhere. They now took huge delight in 'roaming at will'.
  • massive internal divisions in the black community itself: 'freedmen' vs 'former slaves' did not always see eye-to-eye on how to get along
  • Education: former slaves were rapacious in their hunger for books and reading. They devoured books and attended school in huge numbers
  • the growth of southern black Baptist churches took place in this era, many black congregations forming because (astoundingly) white churches still practiced segregation years after the war
  • former slaves were possessed of much misinformation. They believed their old masters were going to be tried in courts, they believed they now owned all the land they had ever worked on, they squatted in the plantation houses, etc etc etc
  • US Reconstruction was the largest ever dispossession of property and land, ever taken by any government towards its citizens. Plantation owners lost fortunes, and were never recompensed.
  • leading newspapers of the day were not always spearheading liberality; some headlines even in Northern papers were outlandish; wondering 'if freed slaves would work or if they would just lay around and expect to be taken care of', etc etc etc. This was the beginning of the country's welfare system and welfare problems.

Seems like a bloviated reply. 

My comment was more that we can take the description for the PBS program that the original poster provided, and reword it so that it reflects an opposite political point of view.

***

Incidentally, why was this series directed by an Italian American? Shouldn't it have been directed by an African American? We don't have African Americans directing stories about the Italian American experience. In my view something is off with this series and the way it's being promoted.

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Uh,   Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the executive producer and presenter.   One has to assume he was involved in the decision making process to hire a non African-American director.

This from Wiki:

Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. (born September 16, 1950) is an American literary critic, teacher, historian, filmmaker and public intellectual who currently serves as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He discovered what are considered the earliest known literary works of African-American writers, and has published extensively on appreciating African-American literature as part of the Western canon.

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H'mm, scant info on IMDb. Oh well. I'm glad someone made a docu about it anyway. Seems like a project of substance. Sorry if I mis-read your reply in any manner, TopB. :)

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20 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Uh,   Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the executive producer and presenter.   One has to assume he was involved in the decision making process to hire a non African-American director.

This from Wiki:

Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. (born September 16, 1950) is an American literary critic, teacher, historian, filmmaker and public intellectual who currently serves as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He discovered what are considered the earliest known literary works of African-American writers, and has published extensively on appreciating African-American literature as part of the Western canon.

I was aware of that, and if you'll note, I didn't say the series had an Italian American producer or host. But it does have an Italian American director, which seems a bit odd to me. Not sure why Gates couldn't have brought an African American director on board.

I think it is perfectly reasonable to debate how a director might have no direct cultural ties to the material that is being presented. If Gordon Parks had directed THE GODFATHER, instead of Francis Coppola...or if Coppola had directed SHAFT instead of Parks...wouldn't that affect the way the story is told? I think so.

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11 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

H'mm, scant info on IMDb. Oh well. I'm glad someone made a docu about it anyway. Seems like a project of substance. Sorry if I mis-read your reply in any manner, TopB. :)

No worries. And I apologize if my reply to you wasn't as polite as it could have been. 

I'm sure there are a lot of interesting discussion points included in this series (like the way ex-slaves were educated). But I also think these kinds of projects are often politically motivated. And are they really covering new ground?

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21 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

I was aware of that, and if you'll note, I didn't say the series had an Italian American producer or host. But it does have an Italian American director, which seems a bit odd to me. Not sure why Gates couldn't have brought an African American director on board.

I think it is perfectly reasonable to debate how a director might have no direct cultural ties to the material that is being presented. If Gordon Parks had directed THE GODFATHER, instead of Francis Coppola...or if Coppola had directed SHAFT instead of Parks...wouldn't that affect the way the story is told? I think so.

It would be interesting to hear what Gates has to say with regards to why an African American director wasn't selected.

Could the reason be balance (and \ or the appearance of balance):

 "I also think these kinds of projects are often politically motivated.".

When all the leaders of a project are similar,   doesn't that give the appearance the project is politically motivated?

 

 

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8 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

It would be interesting to hear what Gates has to say with regards to why an African American director wasn't selected.

Could the reason be balance (and \ or the appearance of balance):

 "I also think these kinds of projects are often politically motivated.".

When all the leaders of a project are similar,   doesn't that give the appearance the project is politically motivated?

Similar in terms of what? In terms of race?

A group of people sharing a common racial background doesn't mean they'll have the same politics. There are liberal African Americans and conservative African Americans. And not all African Americans have the same religion, and their religious views might affect their political beliefs.

Not sure how selecting an Italian American creates balance. Why not an Irish American director or a Japanese American director? Is it because the director's a woman? If so, then why not find a qualified African American female to direct this project?

I agree that it would be interesting to hear Gates defend his choice...or at least explain the thinking that went into his decision.

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Shaft would be a great title for a documentary about Reconstruction, as in that's what the

ex-slaves often got. 

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20 minutes ago, Vautrin said:

Shaft would be a great title for a documentary about Reconstruction, as in that's what the

ex-slaves often got. 

Thanks for the levity. 

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or if Coppola had directed SHAFT instead of Parks...wouldn't that affect the way the story is told? I think so.

I also think these kinds of projects are often politically motivated. And are they really covering new ground?

(TopBilled)

These are really murky waters to chart a course through. Its tempting to draw assumptions. All I can mention is that these issues are beginning to gain a lot of attention these days in the writing market, thanks the climate of general uproar over sensitivity. For example, Hollywood right now has a trend of insisting on 'authentic voices' (as well as 'new' voices) and diversity (or perhaps just tokenism) is clamored for. The very question you raise here is coming more to the surface than ever.

Regarding your last question I've reprinted here yes I would say that this particular timeperiod between the Civil War and the 20th Century is widely under-studied and yet is one of the most crucial episodes. Begging be understood better.

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2 hours ago, TopBilled said:

I was aware of that, and if you'll note, I didn't say the series had an Italian American producer or host. But it does have an Italian American director, which seems a bit odd to me. Not sure why Gates couldn't have brought an African American director on board.

I think it is perfectly reasonable to debate how a director might have no direct cultural ties to the material that is being presented. If Gordon Parks had directed THE GODFATHER, instead of Francis Coppola...or if Coppola had directed SHAFT instead of Parks...wouldn't that affect the way the story is told? I think so.

Why not have a white Southerner as director?  Just saying.  Why must it always be an African-American to direct or produce or write this type documentary?

11 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

(TopBilled)

These are really murky waters to chart a course through. Its tempting to draw assumptions. All I can mention is that these issues are beginning to gain a lot of attention these days in the writing market, thanks the climate of general uproar over sensitivity. For example, Hollywood right now has a trend of insisting on 'authentic voices' (as well as 'new' voices) and diversity (or perhaps just tokenism) is clamored for. The very question you raise here is coming more to the surface than ever.

Regarding your last question I've reprinted here yes I would say that this particular time period between the Civil War and the 20th Century is widely under-studied and yet is one of the most crucial episodes. Begging be understood better.

The Southern Historical Association has published volumes upon volumes of studies of this era.  Lest the name mislead you, the SHA is an educational organization that publishes thesis and dissertations of those studying Southern U.S. history.  They also promote books by reputable, objective writers of the same area.  Reconstruction is one area where they are involved.

The SHA formed in 1934 with a mandate to take an "investigative rather than a memorial approach" to southern history. We have been investigating ever since.

https://thesha.org/

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1 hour ago, TopBilled said:

Thanks for the levity. 

Many a truth is spoken is jest, or maybe it's just a joke. I have seen promos for the series and

it looks interesting. It looks like it will provide detail to a historical subject that many people know

little about. Beats a pledge drive every time.

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1 minute ago, Vautrin said:

Many a truth is spoken is jest, or maybe it's just a joke. I have seen promos for the series and

it looks interesting. It looks like it will provide detail to a historical subject that many people know

little about. Beats a pledge drive every time.

Hey I like the pledge drives when they showcase the old performers and music from the 50's and 60's.

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1 hour ago, TheCid said:

Hey I like the pledge drives when they showcase the old performers and music from the 50's and 60's.

I enjoy some of those too, but they sure have a lot of interruptions just as one is starting

to get into the music. And some of the hosts go a bit overboard in talking about artists

they probably don't know all that well. And for a $75 pledge you will get the four CD collection

of rare outtakes and live performances. That's not all, for $100...

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Those are worthwhile inputs Cid Man. I'm going to pass on your tip to my various reading groups. I sure wasn't aware of any such organization (SHA); and I frequently devour all sorts of history books. I have to reckon that most men-in-the-street have probably had even less opportunity to become apprised of this kind of resource. The Civil War itself has gotten some big theatrical play in contemporary times; but as we all know Hollywood needs some kind of 'succinct' story to dramatize.

When I suggest that the era suffers from lack of widespread familiarity in today's marketplace of ideas, I think thats a safe statement despite the work of this really-interesting looking research outfit. Here's one example: Henry Steele Commager, who influenced a generation of American historians.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Steele_Commager

But because he insisted on trying to write as 'unbiased' history as possible, this got him in hot water with both Right and Left. Look what happened to his reputation later in life (3/4 way down the page). To me, the ire he received reinforces the idea that people want to make up their own minds about Reconstruction. The legacy of the 1800s --despite best intentions of groups like SHA--is still perhaps the most befogged and bedeviled period of our country.

By the way your question: 'why not get a white Southerner to direct?". This is mighty incisive point. What you and TopB are both probing is the common problem of 'FAE' error. The supposition that 'what' someone is, indicates how they think.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_attribution_error

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