What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation

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Encounters

The 19th Century Labor Movement That Brought Black and White Arkansans Together

In 1888, Small Farmers, Sharecroppers, and Industrial Workers Organized to Fight Inequality

by Matthew Hild
February 28, 2019

Today, when Americans think about the tradition of political protest to protect democracy, they often recall the mid-20th century, when millions of Americans participated in the civil rights movement and protests against the Vietnam War. But the roots of American grassroots political activism actually date back further to movements that contested the most basic democratic rights in the South during the late 19th century.

One place to see those roots is in the Gilded Age politics of Arkansas, then a hotbed …

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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

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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By Deirdre Clemente
August 7, 2015

I study one of the most profound cultural changes of the 20th century: the rise of casual dress. I study casual dress as it evolved on the beaches of Miami. I study casual dress as worn by the Black Panthers and by Princeton undergraduates. As a professor, I teach seminars on material culture and direct graduate students as they research and curate costume exhibitions, but my bread-and-butter as a scholar is the “why” and “when” our sartorial standards went from …

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