The American Civil War, also known as ‘The War Between the States’, was bloody and raged from 1861 to 1865. It was when 11 Southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America (“the Confederacy”).
The Confederacy fought for its independence from the United States and opposed the end of slavery, which existed as a legal institution in North America for more than a century before the formation of the United States in 1776.
Now as the 150th anniversary of the Civil War nears, there is a nationwide debate on race. Many of the celebrations in the South will not focus on the main reason of the war—slavery. In fact, at the upcoming South Carolina’s Secession Gala, the focus will be on the South´s fierce fight against the Union and will glorify the Old South. So outraged is the state´s chapter of the NAACP, it has planned a protest and vigil. Many experts say the celebrations in the South also need to celebrate the slave experience as well as pay homage to the Blacks who fought for he Union against the Confederacy. If this is not done, some historians say the historic picture is incomplete.
“The two issues that have shaped civilization since the beginning of time have been religion and racism,” says historian and International Management Consultant Edgar J. Ridley, Chairman of Edgar J. Ridley & Associates, and author of The Golden Apple: Changing the Structure of Civilization (Africa World Press). “It is hard to figure out which is worse but it is very obvious that white people seem to be in a permanent state of denial regarding race. The symbolism emanating from the Civil War is symptomatic of today’s environment as it affects Black people. The changing demographics, wherein whites are quickly becoming a minority population, have caused panic in the white community. That panic has resulted in behavior that borders on insanity.”
But not all the celebrations will overlook slavery. Over the next four years, some events in South Carolina will commemorate the freeing of slaves and the seizure of a Confederate ship by a slave. And in Virginia, a conference called “Race, Slavery and the Civil War: The Tough Stuff of American History” is planned for the fall.
But, says Ridley, the problem of race in the United States will not go away until there is an honest discussion about the vestiges of slavery. “Unless white people change the mindset that reflects their racist behavior patterns, the race problem will remain with us,” he notes.