All posts by Keith Harris

Cemetery Finds

2-screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-2-20-58-pmI spend a lot of time in my local cemetery – Hollywood Forever. The cemetery,  among the most interesting in Los Angeles, is the final resting place for all kinds of Hollywood celebrities – from Cecil B. DeMille to Rudolph Valentino to Dee Dee Ramone. But nearly every time I visit, I find the grave of someone who strikes a historical chord – often having some Civil War connection. Just the other day, I encountered this rather dignified looking fellow: one Cornelius Cole. Cole served a single term in the House of Representatives representing the Republican Party from California from 1863 to 1865, and then in the Senate from 1867 to 1873.

After the war he practicscreen-shot-2016-10-18-at-2-38-46-pmed law in San Francisco and then Los Angeles where he purchased one of the original Spanish landgrants – he called it Colegrove.

Well…Colegrove is now Hollywood. But at least they named a street after him. So if you are in town and find yourself on Cole Street – you’ll know where it got its name.

With compliments,

Keith

 

Music in the Classroom

When I was an undergrad at UCLA my Civil War professor, Joan Waugh, would open each class with martial music of the day…blaring from every speaker as the students filed into the room and took their seats.  I thought it was a great way to introduce the history – it got us in the mood, so to speak.

screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-8-06-12-amAnyway…I have continued that legacy with my own students, and it has become one of the staple features of my Civil War history course. I have had students send me music that they have found on their own and some have brought in different versions of the music they heard in class – we once had an impromptu sing-a-long break out to close the week.

So far – the class favorite has been Eating Goober Peas, a folk song probably originating the southern states  that was popular with Confederate soldiers…I would imagine that some Yankees joined in the chorus from time to time – or at least sampled the southern delicacy.

So – let’s all join in with this remarkable version – a duet featuring Burl Ives and Johnny Cash.

With compliments,

Keith

Save

Save

Save

Let the Games Begin

1 Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 6.59.15 AMThe classes are assigned, the lessons prepared, the haircut scheduled….and the students will be in their seats ready for me to drop some serious knowledge in less than two weeks. In the meantime – it’s faculty meetings and getting some tech straightened out.

To my fellow teachers – the fall semester is upon us. So…peace be with you. Have a great year!!

With compliments,

Keith

New Stuff from Keith Harris History

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 9.12.39 AMGreetings friends! Of course I have been up to all sorts of things so far this summer. As some of you already know, I have taken a position at a private prep-school here in LA…teaching US history, a sort of hybrid Western Civ course, and an honors course in Civil War and Reconstruction history. So I am stoked. But…I am not leaving the digital world. Not by a long shot. Office Hours, my free student resource geared to helping students with some of the more pressing questions, is still going strong – here’s the latest, on the 1963 Birmingham Campaign.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 2.37.06 PMI am also very excited about my US History podcast (you’ll get the name of it soon enough…), where I will talk with experts in US History, American Studies, and other areas of Americana. The launch date is September 1 and my first guests will include, Kevin Levin, Megan Kate Nelson, Robert Rakove, Julian Hayter, Christian McWirther, Heath Hardage Lee, and Robin Foster. Don’t be surprised if our conversations tend to kick up a fuss…I mean, those of you who know me should expect nothing less.

Lot’s going on, yes? Stay tuned and be sure to fill out the form when prompted to get notified just as soon as things get rolling!

With compliments,

Keith

Save

The Absurdity of #AllLivesMatter

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 8.37.52 AMI suppose the social media hashtag #AllLivesMatter is well-intentioned.  Of course, everyone’s life matters. But as an offering in response to the #BlackLivesMatter campaign and philosophy, which is how people seem to be using it, the hashtag is insensitive,  a gross misunderstanding (or ignorance) of history and its legacy, and entirely absurd.

#BlackLivesMatter reminds us that American heritage reflects 400 years of institutionalized enslavement, oppression, and murder directed specifically toward – wait for it – black folks. And here’s the real sticker: for the most part, white America has stood silently by and let it happen…for four centuries.

Have “all” people been singled out for enslavement? Have “all” people had their children stolen and sold? Have “all” people had to resign themselves to arbitrary beatings and rape? Have “all” people faced a lynching for simply exercising their Constitutional rights?  Have “all” people faced the humiliation of legal public segregation? Have “all” people been denied a seat at a lunch counter or on a bus or in a theater? Have “all” people faced the reality of being singled out by law enforcement when they leave their homes? Have “all” people been criminalized for their manner of dress?  Have “all” people had to instruct their children that they will be treated as potential threats and thus take especial care not to be killed? No.

Many white Americans understand the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow era racism as things of the past – terrible yes, but over. And these folks suggest that we all move along; that if everyone obeys the law, there will be no trouble. And we will all live in peace – all of us. But anyone who has been paying attention knows that this is not the case. Anyone who reads the news and still believes things are fine is confused. Using #BlackLivesMatter does not mean that other lives do not matter – it is an acknowledgement of a history of brutality, its legacy, and its modern manifestations.

#BlackLivesMatter reminds us that the unseemly American tradition of enslavement, oppression, and murder is still with us. And until “all” Americans can admit this, little will change.

Just in case you need a reminder…

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 8.40.54 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-09 at 8.39.53 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-09 at 8.38.54 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-09 at 8.42.03 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-09 at 8.42.40 AM2

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 9.36.43 AM1

Peace be with you,

Keith

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save