Tuesday, September 01, 2015

PBS to rebroadcast 'The Civil War'; first episode looks at impact of slavery on war

Supporters of the Confederate flag say it represents heritage, not hate, a claim disputed by Civil War historians. The flag has been at the heart of controversy since the June 17 murders of nine African Americans in a historic Charleston, S.C., church and the arrest of a white suspect with ties to hate crimes. Since the shootings, some have called for banning the flag, others have rallied behind it and disputes continue about what the flag means and how the Civil War is taught in classrooms in relation to slavery. (Slaves working in the sweet potato fields on the Hopkinson plantation, South Carolina, 1862)

That makes this the perfect time for PBS to broadcast a completely restored version of the nine-part series, "The Civil War," by Ken Burns. The series, which begins airing on Sept. 7, will offer a great opportunity for rural newspapers to write about the war and get lively discussions going in the community about what it means locally and nationally.

The first episode, "The Cause," gets right to the heart of the impact historians believe slavery had on the war. Here's a description of the episode: "Beginning with a searing indictment of slavery, this first episode dramatically evokes the causes of the war, from the Cotton Kingdom of the South to the northern abolitionists who opposed it. Here are the burning questions of Union and states' rights, John Brown at Harpers Ferry, the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, the firing on Fort Sumter and the jubilant rush to arms on both sides. Along the way the series' major figures are introduced: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant and a host of lesser-known but equally vivid characters. The episode comes to a climax with the disastrous Union defeat at Manassas, Va., where both sides learn it is to be a very long war."

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