They Knew What the War Was About: African Americans and the Memory of the Civil War


ACLS Fellowship Program




"They Knew What the War Was About" explores the history of Black engagement with the memory and legacy of the American Civil War from the 1860s to the near-present. African Americans across regions, ideologies, and generations demonstrated the continued relevance of historical memory by nurturing their own forms of collective memory and battling white Southerners' Lost Cause. This project highlights the enduring relevance and power of African American Civil War memory as both a usable past, and at times, an ideological foundation for African American freedom movements in the decades since the war's end. African Americans leveraged the memory of the Civil War to bolster their own contemporaneous calls for justice, freedom, and power after Emancipation.