What It Means to Be American
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Identities

How Americans Can Stop Fighting the Civil War

Acknowledging Tragic Loss on All Sides Could Begin a Process of Reconciliation

Civil War re-enactors pose in their Union battle regalia at a historic marker. Photo courtesy of Sgt. Stephanie Hargett/U.S. Army Reserve.

By David Goldfield
October 30, 2017

It began as a loving effort to heal the South’s wounds, to properly mourn the young men who gave their lives for a lost cause, and to extract dignity from the humiliation of defeat.

Immediately after the Civil War ended, the white women of the South went to work. They tended graves, erected modest monuments, and followed former president Jefferson Davis’ plea to “keep the memory of our heroes green.” The South had lost one-third of its white male …

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Identities

In Atlanta, Every Day Was MLK Day

If You Grow Up Black in King’s Hometown, You Can’t Help But See His Story Intertwine with Your Own

MLK tomb

By Errin Whack
January 19, 2015

To grow up in Atlanta is to be always aware of the story of Martin Luther King, Jr., and to see it intertwine with your own fate.

I was born there in 1978, less than a mile from the house where King grew up. As a schoolchild, I like others, visited Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue—the street where King was born, worked, died, and is honored. To see King’s neighborhood, and the home he was born in, humanized him for us children, letting …

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Identities

New Orleans Is My Second Language

We Lived in Los Angeles, But My Mother’s Songs, Stories, Cooking—and Most of All the Way She Spoke—Made Louisiana Feel Like Home

New Orleans Is My Second Language

By Lynell George
September 22, 2014

For a time, most likely between the ages of 5 and 8, I floated around with a secret: a dogged yet utterly erroneous notion that my family spoke a second language—on my mother’s side at least.

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