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Symposium to Focus on Reconstruction in NC

The North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport. Photo: Contributed

Submitted by North Carolina Maritime Museums

An upcoming seminar will focus on an important turning point in American history, including a deeper look at its impact in North Carolina.

A limited number of seats are available for “Spring into History: Remembering Reconstruction Symposium,” which will explore subjects related to post-Civil War Reconstruction in North Carolina and South Carolina.

The symposium hosted by the N.C. Maritime Museum at Southport will be from 11 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. April 4 at Murrow Hall, 209 E. Nash St. in Southport. Limited seats are available, and advance registration is required. Registration is $40 and includes lunch. There is a 10% discount for members of the Friends of the Museum at the Family level and above, students and teachers who can also receive CEU credits for attending.

“The thought behind the topic, Reconstruction, is it’s a topic that many people don’t understand,” museum Education Curator Katy Menne said. “While we’ll focus on the Civil War Reconstruction, we’re also moving on and seeing the implications today.”

The symposium will feature three formal presentations followed by a panel discussion on Reconstruction and its lingering impacts.

Angela Zombek

Angela Zombek, assistant history professor at University of North Carolina Wilmington, will start the day with “Competing Visions of the Post-War World: Military Reconstruction & Southern Resistance in North Carolina,” a discussion of how the U.S. Army attempted to implement congressional Republicans’ vision for ending slavery and extending many civil rights to black Americans. Zombek will also look at how North Carolina rewrote its constitution and ultimately rejoined the Union.

“Reconstruction is, in many ways, one of the most complicated and least understood periods in American history,” Zombek said.

And that history includes some difficult conversations, including how white southerners resisted and challenged the progress of Reconstruction.

Adam Domby

“Understanding Reconstruction, its limited successes, and its ultimate failure is key to understanding race relations in the U.S., even up to this day,” she said.

Adam Domby of the College of Charleston will follow with “North Carolina’s Unique Memory of Reconstruction,” which discusses how Confederate monuments and white supremacy shaped our memory of Reconstruction. His newly released book, “The False Cause: Fraud, Fabrication, and White Supremacy in Confederate Memory,” discusses this topic in depth.

“When we first started planning this, there was a lot of discussion of monuments in the news,” Menne said, noting that helped lead them to Domby and his work exploring the topic.

Stephen West

The final presentation of the day is “Reconstruction in the Carolinas in the Eyes of the Nation.” Stephen West from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., will take a look at how Reconstruction was portrayed in the media, taking a particular look at Albion W. Tourgee’s novel, “A Fool’s Errand,” and D.W. Griffith’s film, “Birth of a Nation.”

The symposium will wrap up with a panel discussion.

“The Carolinas were at the center of the nation’s debate on these topics,” Menne said. “We’re excited to share this with historians, history lovers, teachers — we want the museum to be seen as a place for continuing education.”

Registration for the symposium closes at 5 p.m. March 28 or when all available spaces are filled. For more information on the symposium or to register, contact Katy Menne at or 910-477-5153.