September is the launch month for http://www.teachslocummassacre.org and September is also the first month of a new school year. So before everyone gets overwhelmed by the present, now would be a great time to consider what role learning about the Slocum Massacre could play in your research and course content. I am including a recent blog post from the website that offers some of the relevant reading on this topic:
Creating A Reading List
Eventually this website will include a comprehensive reading list that provides relevant context and case studies related to the themes of the Slocum Massacre. This reading list will, in part, be the product of the comments that you provide as users of this site. Here is a preliminary list of books related to the history of the Slocum Massacre, racism, violence, massacres in general, and the contested nature of historical memory.
Of course it makes the most sense to begin with E.R. Bills’ The 1910 Slocum Massacre: An Act of Genocide in East Texas in which Bills reveals the history of both the massacre itself and its aftermath. This book also shows the great variety of sources that Bills had to interrogate in order to tell this story, which will be especially useful as you try and interpret the sources on this site. Though written before the most recent contest to memorialize the massacre, Bills details past conflicts over the meaning and presentation of the Slocum Massacre where those in power have consistently sought to obscure and diminish the meaning of this event.
William D. Carrigan’s The Making of a Lynching Culture: Violence and Vigilantism in Central Texas, 1836-1916 is focused on Central Texas, but is useful for understanding the history of violence throughout Texas. By looking at different time periods Carrigan shows how factors like politics or white supremacy influenced this violence. Historical memory is prominent here, both in white people’s current efforts to forget and in the memories of the immigrants that came to Texas, having heard about the violence of Texas before they arrived, they were primed to participate in it once they became Texans.
Kidada E. Williams’ They Left Great Marks on Me: African American Testimonies of Racial Violence from Emancipation to World War I with its vivid descriptions of racist violence from maiming to murder will move the reader to action. And that, Williams argues, is exactly the reason that African Americans bravely articulated these traumas to a wider audience so that they could present the true costs of white supremacy for everyone to see, and for some to act upon, laying the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement.
Ari Kelman’s A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek shows why the work of interpreting an historical event is never complete, and with the many stakeholders at Sand Creek this process was even more fraught. Even as Kelman points to complexity, with competing perspectives and contradictory evidence, he reemphasizes the moral clarity and weight of this event which is deeply felt by the present-day Cheyennes and Arapahos.
More great books to follow!