“I’m a Southerner, Too”: Confederate Monuments and Black Southern Counterpublics in Memphis, Tennessee


Building on a growing body of literature about the historical and contemporary formation of Black Southern identity, this essay studies the rhetoric of a local activist group in Memphis, Tennessee which sought the removal of that city’s confederate monuments in 2017. I argue that the group, #TakeEmDown901, fashioned a Black Southern counterpublic through a significant and sophisticated intervention into pressing questions about the racial contours of Southern heritage. Drawing from the analysis of a broad range of texts produced during the controversy, I contend that attention to the rhetorical emergence of this counterpublic in practice can help to address a deficit that has hindered the study of Southern oratory for more than a century–its hegemonically White sense of Southern heritage.

Publication Title

Southern Communication Journal