I’m southern born and southern bred, and when I die, I will be southern dead. This little ditty was told to me by a southern belle I met at a book signing in Fitzgerald, Georgia, and I must say that is me.
The Civil War ended 155 years ago, and we lost. History cannot be changed, and this is a part of our history that is remembered but not celebrated. Along with the horrors of the war for both sides, the years of reconstruction and harsh tactics that followed continue to carry resentment, vengeance, dilemma of justice and division for us today.
With that in mind I also know that reminders of these times that are painful, harmful or derogatory to others should be challenged .But—this word but calls for thoughtful consideration of harm or innocence. Some things of value could be lost.
A small plaque commemorating the service of Amos Moses Proctor stands among the graves of the Proctor family plot in the Swainsboro City Cemetery. He volunteered for the Confederate Army at age nineteen and served in the 28th Regiment of Georgia Volunteers. Thankfully, he survived the war and returned to his home in Canoochee. If not, I would not be here today, for he was my grandfather. (Not many living today can make that claim of heritage) The plaque was placed by the family to honor his bravery and loyalty. When I think of my grandfather at age nineteen, I wonder if he understood the rational of the war or was his loyalty simply to his home state of Georgia or maybe to Canoochee.
Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, and the Tar Baby were characters in the stories that my father told to me. He acted out the motions and speech of the characters. The star was always the Tar Baby. I spoke these lines.
He hit’em with his one foots and it got stuck
Then he hit’em with his nother foots and it got stuck
There has been criticism about the Tar Baby. If you “came up” around Emanuel County, you know that tar is a sticky, thick liquid that drips from a slash pine tree. It has no racial connotation.
These tales were told to a young white boy from the plantation by a slave that he called Uncle Remus. The boy, Joel Chandler Harris, combined the tales into a classic children’s book, The Tales of Uncle Remus. These stories would have been favorites of slave children as well and should be revered. However, the book has been removed from reading lists of some schools and public libraries. Why?
In the forties Disney filmed Uncle Remus, the little boy and all the Br’er characters into a classic movie, Song of the South. Also, this is no longer shown. Why?
I am sad that children will no longer know these beloved stories of my childhood.
Gone with the Wind written by Georgian, Margaret Mitchell is no longer on many reading lists, and the movie has been removed from some TV movie channels. Why?
I remind you that GWTW is not a history book but a fictional novel. Each time I have read the book, I appreciated this literary masterpiece even more. When you purposely read the book or see the movie, you will find more than a tale of a selfish, vane southern belle. You will see the Civil War and Reconstruction from many perspectives including the eyes of slaves.
Perhaps these are times for the catch phrase----Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater or don’t reject the favorable along with the unfavorable
Write to Shirley at firstname.lastname@example.org.