St. Augustine’s Confederate Monument: Myth, Memory, and Contextualization
In the aftermath of the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally, Southern cities debated the meaning and relevance of Confederate monuments in public spaces, and St. Augustine was no exception. City leaders formed a committee to contextualize a structure dedicated to the memory of those “who gave their lives in the service of the Confederate States”. Due to his academic expertise, Dr. Butler was selected as one of seven committee members. His presentation tells the story of the Contextualization Committee’s origins and recommendations; how nostalgia pervades public discourse concerning uncomfortable historical truths; and raises important questions concerning the responsibilities citizens have.
Dr. J. Michael Butler is a Kenan Distinguished Professor of History at Flagler College where he has taught since 2008. He has published numerous essays and his book Beyond Integration: The Black Freedom Struggle in Escambia County, Florida, 1960-1980 won a 2017 Florida Book Award in nonfiction. Dr. Butler specializes in southern cultural history with an emphasis on the Black freedom struggle and has spoken to dozens of teachers and community groups about the civil rights movement.