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Why the history of Reconstruction is important today

American orator, editor, author, abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass (1818 - 1895) edits a journal at his desk, late 1870s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American orator, editor, author, abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass (1818 - 1895) edits a journal at his desk, late 1870s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

How well do you know your history? When we say “Reconstruction,” what comes to mind? 

It is most commonly known as the period of American history following the Civil War.But, like much of history, a lot can be lost in its retelling. 

A new issue of The Atlantic, “To Reconstruct the Nation,” wants us to pause and think about how we look back on the events, trends, and people of that time that made it so transformative. It also examines why it is important for us to think about its connections tothe present.

How should we remember Reconstruction? What parallels can we see between then and now? 

We’re joined by the editor of The Atlantic’s December issue, Vann R. Newkirk II, plus two contributors. AnnaDeavereSmith isan actress and playwright. Herplay “This Ghost of Slavery” appears in the new issue. And Lonnie G. Bunch III is the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian. His essay is “Why is America Afraid of Black History?”

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Jorgelina Manna-Rea
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