Which is why the current debate remains personal and vitriolic. Who do you believe when confronted with conflicting interpretations: the people who tucked you into bed at night and taught you right from wrong or those who tell you in classrooms that such lessons are inaccurate at best and, at worst, deliberate lies concocted to deny African Americans freedom and preserve white supremacy? What does that say about the people you love?
For many, that’s a chasm they cannot cross. It should not be surprising that many flinch or outright resist rejecting lessons learned from loved ones in favor of accepting painful historical truths.
This was the genius behind the UDC’s efforts. By targeting the region’s middle- to upper-class children, they ensured an army of future teachers and leaders would carry forward and defend their message for decades to come. Embedding their version of Confederate history into the sacred spaces of Southern society (the home, cemeteries, churches, city squares, street names, colleges and schools) made erasing it physically difficult and personally painful.