The NPI president, who will speak at this week's event at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, was part of the Unite the Right rally that turned deadly in Charlottesville this August. He marched with white supremacists to protest the city's decision to remove a statue of Confederate Robert E. Lee. The issue hits close to home in Gainesville, where a Confederate monument was removed from the city's downtown recently.
As white nationalist propaganda--especially of the kind disseminated by the NPI--has been masked with the rhetoric of "preserving Southern culture" or "remembering our history," UPF encourages the community to understand the true history behind these statues, the differences between remembering history and memorializing slavery, and the rise of this particular brand of "Southern culture."
"Almost none of the [Confederate] monuments were put up right after the Civil War," UPF author Karen L. Cox stresses in a recent Washington Post op-ed: "The monuments were put up as explicit symbols of white supremacy." In her book, Dixie's Daughters, Cox explains how the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) erected monuments to "transform military defeat into a political and cultural victory, where states' rights and white supremacy remained intact." The UDC "believed they could vindicate their Confederate ancestors," Cox argues.
In Recalling Deeds Immortal, authors William B. Lees and Frederick P. Gaske outline the precise details surrounding the installation of several Confederate monuments in Florida. They note that while the first was built in 1871, "the UDC continued to erect monuments in Florida at a steady pace through the Civil War Centennial of 1961-65." They also discuss the Lost Cause narrative the monuments convey, explaining its "recasting [of] the Civil War as a constitutional contest in which the South fought to protect states' rights."
To receive a free PDF of both books, readers should visit upress.ufl.edu. UPF will be supplying the free PDFs through Friday, October 20th.
Linda Bathgate, UPF's editor-in-chief and deputy director, says, "UPF fully supports the First Amendment and the right to speak freely; 'unpopular' speech was integral to the founding of this country. However, we cannot abide the hateful rhetoric and pervasive intolerance of the white supremacist movement. We encourage discourse for unity, understanding, knowledge, and acceptance, and we will do our part to promote speech that represents these values."