When I came across this article I immediately thought of our reading for Dr. Bolton’s class about the Colfax Massacre. According to this article, the 1910 massacre of African Americans in Slocum, Texas went unrecognized by the U.S. government until 2011. A historical marker was not put up until 2015. Some of the reasons behind why the historical marker had not been placed earlier left me with a horrible feeling in my stomach.
Although efforts had been made to get a historical marker placed in the 1980s, the chairman of the Anderson County historical commission, Jimmy Ray Odom, denied the request because, “It was mislabeled a massacre. A massacre is when you kill hundreds of people.” Even after the U.S. government acknowledged the massacre, people still fought against the historical marker claiming that there was a lack of documentation stating who the murderers were and how many people actually died. This argument against the historic marker sickened me the most:
“The citizens of Slocum today had absolutely nothing to do with what happened over a hundred years ago. This is a nice, quiet community with a wonderful school system. It would be a shame to mark them as racist from now until the end of time.”
Just because something unpleasant occurred in our history does not mean we should blatantly ignore it. This article has left me pondering many questions. How many more of these kind of massacres have gone ignored? What role could museums play to bring this to the public’s attention? How do cases like this compare with the current controversy concerning Civil War monuments?