Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Conversation With Historian Gregory Downs About His New Book 'After Appomattox'

Historian Gregory Downs is the guest on this week's edition of The Chauncey DeVega Show. Dr. Downs is the author of the new book After Appomattox, which offers an analysis of the post Civil War era South, Reconstruction, American freedom, and the struggle for African-Americans to defend their newly one gains in the face of white racial terrorism. Professor Downs' new book is an excellent history of American politics and a corrective to misunderstandings about the Civil War and its aftermath. Dr. Downs also writes for The New York Times in its on-going series on the American Civil War.

Gregory does some great teaching and sharing in this episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He disabuses Chauncey--in a very nice way--of some of his misconceptions about the United States Constitution and its relationship to chattel slavery, shares his thoughts on writing for a popular audience in The New York Times, and explains the particular historical relationship that Black America has with the United States government and why the Black Freedom Struggle can be described as being "emancipated into the arms of the State". 

Chauncey and Greg also do some sharing about graphic novels and other "popular" depictions of American history. 

In this episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, Chauncey also talks about the Bill Cosby sex scandal and the misunderstood racial politics of The Cosby Show, shares some thoughts about Ta-Nehisi Coates' new book, and tells a tale of intrigue and crime while applying his Sherlock Holmes-like powers of detection and investigation to solve a local mystery.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is in the process of transferring over to the podcast hosting service known as Libsyn.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is available on Itunes and at Stitcher as well. Please update your Itunes and other information so that you continue to "subscribe" to the show.

This episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show with Gregory Downs can also be "watched" on the official Youtube channel. It can be downloaded from Libsyn here.


Lucy Kemnitzer said...

Thank you for the youtubve link! I don't think I've ever noticed it before, and I don't do iTunes. Now I can catch up on all the podcasts!

chauncey devega said...

Glad that the link is of use. Always trying to make things as easy as possible for folks.

SW said...

Listen for some learning on the Civil War, end up hearing Chief Keef mentions. Haha.

You referenced code switching. Living as a minority in America can be so interesting at times. I was actually in Chicago (southside), earlier this summer for my cousin's 35th birthday. Let's just say I heard my share of Chief Keef, Chedda da Connect, Rich Homie Quan, and Future...all of which I enjoyed:) Let's just say that the beats that underlie hyper-thug masculinity music are to my palette, as high fructose corn syrup is to yours. Both aren't doing us any favors. At any rate, the very next weekend I went hiking in Yosemite. Those two experiences require a completely different set of social coding and interaction. I actually played a little Rich Homie Quan at Yosemite, just for the experience of doing so. Not so loudly that I would scare any of the wildlife, or other folks that scare easily, but because the two are so disparate.

But because you also mentioned your spider living in your house, I feel it's appropriate to mention the praying mantis that has taken up residence on the baby fiddle leaf fig tree I'm rearing. Just know that one of your readers/listeners is doing their part to be mindful of our four, six, and eight legged friends.

Finally, I will say this. You need a radio show. You have the ability to manage a very wide range of subject matter with a significant knowledge base to bring the best out of your highly educated guests. You can fill dead air with your story telling abilities, etc.

All I'm saying is that I listen to Sirius XM Insight station for example. It's ok, but you could EASILY do an hour show or so, and be one of the best on their station, bringing much needed content to an audience that would likely be receptive to the types of things you discuss. You should reach out to Pete Dominick who founded the Insight station and see if he'd be receptive. Hes' very accessible, I believe, and you got what it takes for sure.

chauncey devega said...

I have nothing against ghetto hyper thug hip hop. Hell, I grew up on it. I do have a problem w. piss-poor storytelling, uninteresting beats, and songs written for the intellect of 7 year old children. Not a "positive" music must be "uplifting" narrow minded thinker. Hell, I love murder ballads and that old school blues and country music.

My spider friend in the over priced cluttered Chicago apartment is a good resident. Very helpful and polite. I would love a praying mantis friend. They are so dignified and regal.

Thank you for the kind complement about my ability to not be too tedious and grating on the podcast. My first love is radio. Hopefully, I can return to it in the near future.

James Scaminaci III, PhD said...

I appreciate his historical take on the distinction between fighting the
Civil War and the consequences of the Civil War. But, I would take it

Clausewitz writes that "war is the continuation of
politics by other means." The obverse is also true, both in the sense
of the politics before the war and after the war, especially in the
American case.

The war may have ended with Lee surrendering his armies, but the southern oligarchy never gave up. They were not punished for their crimes of treason. They were not punished by having the land of the slave labor camps redistributed to the newly freed slaves. The oligarchy was allowed to come back into power in state governments and at the federal level--where the war continued on political, economic, legal, and cultural fronts.

The 13th, 14th, and 15th constitutional amendments, in
my view, were clearly a slap at the 10th amendment because under the
14th amendment the Bill of Rights was incorporated down to the states.
The 15th amendment granted Black men the right to vote; it gave them
agency; it gave them a semblance of political equality with the white
man. This was something that the white southern rulers could not and
would not accept.

And thus, at the first possible moment, they began a
reign of white racial terrorism against the Freedman Bureau, whites who
supported the Radical Reconstruction governments, and Black folks
through the Black Codes, then the KKK and other terrorist groups, and
Jim and Jane Crow laws, and Lynch law.

From the end of the Civil War
until today, there has been a neo-Confederate movement still using
politics to pursue at least one of the two original war aims of
secession--maintaining the supremacy of the white, rich, Christian man. And, if I'm really honest, the Black Codes and Jim/Jane Crow laws were aimed at reducing Black folks down to an economic level close to slavery.

Obviously, I am not a professional historian. But, warfare is also a different animal and I am not sure that Professor Downs sees it that way.

James Scaminaci III, PhD said...

I have to stop listening to your podcasts. I spend too much money at Amazon trying to get smart and shrink my ignorance. smh lol

Justin M. White said...

Again I'm late to comment. I got a call this morning from a colleague who runs a continuing ed program for the community and asked if I had any ideas for sessions I'd like to teach in the upcoming term. I went through their catalog and noticed a session on the "Military Genius of Nathan Bedford Forrest", a "talented businessman".

Of course the issue of public history has been on my mind (and in the mainstream media) for the past month. Your call to local involvement immediately came to mind, and I feel an obligation to provide some critical insight into history and public memory for this program, rather leaving unchallenged the "War Between the States" revisionism that is all too popular.

I also made a mental note of how much more "appropriate" that narrative is considered to be for these kinds of community programs, compared to the sort of response I would like to do...