Begun at the University of Pennsylvania in 2022, this project set out to build a database of responses to Confederate commemoration from the Black press. The database eventually grew to include over 2000 articles from over 150 Black newspapers dating as far back as 1869. Our student researchers wrote over 30 articles offering windows into the stories told by this collection. The Price Lab for Digital Humanities and the Center for Research Data and Digital Scholarship built this website.

Generous funding and support were provided by a number of sources, including the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration, and the Price Lab for Digital Humanities.

Black journalists in the post-Reconstruction era unflinchingly documented the white supremacist violence, both physical and psychological, inflicted on Black people during this period. Wherever possible, we have used the language and descriptions presented in these materials to faithfully convey the pain and sense of urgency of their moment. Readers can expect to find offensive language and references to violent episodes in these articles.


Donovan Schaefer

Picture of Donovan Schaefer

Donovan Schaefer is an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. After completing his doctorate in Religion at Syracuse University in 2012, he took up a two-year Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Haverford College. He then moved to the University of Oxford, where he served from 2014 to 2017 as Departmental Lecturer in Science and Religion. He began working at Penn in 2017. His research interests include a range of topics related to the politics of feeling/affect/emotion and their links with science, religion, secularism, and material culture. His published works include the books Religious Affects: Animality, Evolution, and Power (Duke 2015), The Evolution of Affect Theory: The Humanities, The Sciences, and the Study of Power (Cambridge 2019), and Wild Experiment: Feeling Science and Secularism after Darwin (Duke 2022), as well as journal articles in Cultural Critique, GLQ, Hypatia, and Angelaki, among others. His current research considers the affects and politics of public material culture, especially Confederate commemoration.

Olivia Haynie

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Olivia Haynie is a member of the Class of 2024 in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She is majoring in Sociology and minoring in Religious Studies. Her research interests center around identity formation, race, religion, and nationalism. She has been a part of this project since the Summer of 2022. She is a member of the 2022–2025 Cohort of the Center for Advancing Multimodal Research and Arts Fellowship at Penn.

Many of the articles presented Confederate monument controversy as only affecting Blacks and as a symbolic issue alone. However, the erection of these Confederate monuments was spurred by institutional racism, which affects everyone in the United States regardless of race. Additionally, the problem is not just the monuments’ existence but that people wanted them up in the first place and why. Further investigation into how language places people within this issue—or removes them from it—could shed light on why the Confederate monument controvery has been drawn out for over a century. - Olivia Haynie

Justin J. Seward

Picture of Justin J. Seward

Justin J. Seward is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, set to graduate in the Class of 2025. He is pursuing a major in Sociology and a minor in Religious Studies, with a specific focus on the intersection of religion and the public sphere. He has been working on this project since summer 2022. Justin is a Penn Civic Scholar, Benjamin Franklin Scholar, and Penn Social Equity and Community Fellow where he is deeply committed to public and community engaged scholarship. He intends to go to graduate school for a PhD in Sociology after completing his undergraduate degree and receive a Masters of Divinity in the future.

Confederate monuments are not just symbols of hatred and white supremacy, they are perpetuators of it. Lynchings, cross burnings, and KKK rituals are rudimentary parts of the existence of Confederate monuments, where they were not passive symbols but active sites promoting white supremacy. Beyond individual instances of racism, their collective existence is a monument to the spirit of white supremacy and the systemic racism that continues to grip this country and its history. As white people debated whether the monuments reflected history or treason, Black people called out their true nature. - Justin Seward

Liv McClary

Liv McClary is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences (Class of 2024). Pursuing a degree in History and Religious Studies, she is the Editor-in-Chief of the Penn History Review, a member of the History Undergraduate Advisory Board, and an RA in Lauder College House.