Wednesday, 7:30 pm EDT October 7, 2020
On America series brings fiction writers together with journalists, scholars, activists, and other agents for change for a deeply thoughtful reflection on issues affecting the nation. See all events in series.
Can America overcome the generational effects of 400 years of slavery when monuments honoring Confederate generals and slave traders still stand? That’s the central question in Connor Towne O’Neill’s upcoming book Down Along with That Devil’s Bones: A Reckoning with Monuments, Memory, and the Legacy of White Supremacy.
O’Neill uses heated conflicts over attempts to remove Nathan Bedford Forrest’s monument as a window into recent movements to both preserve and take down these memorials. Award-winning filmmaker and activist Bree Newsome Bass; African and African Disapora Studies scholar Joshua Crutchfield; and California State University history professors Ethan J. Kytle and Blain Roberts, co-authors of Denmark Vesey’s Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy, will join Towne O’Neill in conversation.
Connor Towne O’Neill
Connor Towne O’Neill
Connor Towne O’Neill’s writing has appeared in New York magazine, Vulture, Slate, RBMA, and the Village Voice, and he works as a producer on the NPR podcast White Lies. Originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he lives in Auburn, Alabama, where he teaches at Auburn University and with the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project.
Bree Newsome Bass
Bree Newsome Bass
Bree Newsome Bass is a community organizer and activist who removed the Confederate Battle Flag from the South Carolina State House. She established herself as a touchstone of empowerment for people around the world when she scaled the flagpole in front of the South Carolina State House and removed the Confederate flag, declaring, “This flag comes down today!” An award-winning filmmaker, writer, composer, singer, community activist and organizer, she blends her talents in pursuit of social and economic justice.
Joshua Crutchfield is a 2nd year PhD student in the African and African Diaspora Studies department at the University of Texas. He received his masters degree in American history at Middle Tennessee State University. His research explores the intellectual history of prison abolition through the lens of imprisoned black women intellectuals like Mae Mallory, Angela Davis, and Assata Shakur.
Ethan J. Kytle
Ethan J. Kytle
Ethan J. Kytle is a professor of history at California State University, Fresno. The co-author, with Blain Roberts, of Denmark Vesey’s Garden (The New Press) and the author of Romantic Reformers and the Antislavery Struggle in the Civil War Era, he lives in Fresno, California.
Down Along with That Devil's Bones: A Reckoning with Monuments, Memory, and the Legacy of White Supremacy
By Connor Towne O’Neill
Published by Algonquin Books
In Down Along with That Devil’s Bones, journalist Connor Towne O’Neill takes a deep dive into American history, exposing the still-raging battles over monuments dedicated to one of the most notorious Confederate generals, Nathan Bedford Forrest. Through the lens of these conflicts, O’Neill examines the legacy of white supremacy in America, in a sobering and fascinating work sure to resonate with readers of Tony Horwitz, Timothy B. Tyson, and Robin DiAngelo.
O’Neill’s reporting and thoughtful, deeply personal analysis make it clear that white supremacy is not a regional affliction but is in fact coded into the DNA of the entire country. Down Along with That Devil’s Bones presents an important and eye-opening account of how we got from Appomattox to Charlottesville, and where, if we can truly understand and transcend our past, we could be headed next.
Denmark Vesey's Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy
By Ethan J. Kytle & Blain Roberts
Published by New Press
Hailed by the New York Times as a “fascinating and important new historical study that examines . . . the place where the ways slavery is remembered mattered most,” Denmark Vesey’s Garden “maps competing memories of slavery from abolition to the very recent struggle to rename or remove Confederate symbols across the country” (New Republic). This timely book reveals the deep roots of present-day controversies and traces them to the capital of slavery in the United States: Charleston, South Carolina, where almost half of the slaves brought to the United States stepped onto our shores, where the first shot at Fort Sumter began the Civil War, and where Dylann Roof murdered nine people at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, which was co-founded by Denmark Vesey, a black revolutionary who plotted a massive slave insurrection in 1822.
As they examine public rituals, controversial monuments, and competing musical traditions, “Kytle and Roberts’s combination of encyclopedic knowledge of Charleston’s history and empathy with its inhabitants’ past and present struggles make them ideal guides to this troubled history” (Publishers Weekly, starred review). A work the Civil War Times called “a stunning contribution, ” Denmark Vesey’s Garden exposes a hidden dimension of America’s deep racial divide, joining the small bookshelf of major, paradigm-shifting interpretations of slavery’s enduring legacy in the United States..
About this series
Our On America series explores issues important to all Americans as we approach the 2020 election. Who are we? Who are we becoming? How do the stories we tell shape who we are as a nation?
Story/Teller with Jess Walter and David Duchovny$30
Thursday, 7:30 pm EDT October 29, 2020
On America: A Performance of James Baldwin's "The White Problem"Free
Thursday, 7:30 pm EDT November 5, 2020
The Art of the Short Story: Nicole Krauss on To Be a Man with Julie Orringer$30
Monday, 7:30 pm EDT November 9, 2020
Story/Teller with Jonathan Lethem, Edward Norton, and Kim Stanley RobinsonFree
Monday, 7:30 pm EDT November 16, 2020
Story/Teller with Zeyn Joukhadar, Samy Nour Younes, Leila Buck, and Jenn Baker
Tuesday, 7:30 pm EDT November 24, 2020
The Center for Fiction Annual Awards Benefit
Thursday, 7:30 pm EDT December 3, 2020