Most of us are familiar with the controversial 1915 silent film, The Birth of a Nation, known especially for its depiction of the creation of the Reconstruction Era Ku Klux Klan. To make the film, director D. W. Griffith turned to a historical romance: Thomas Dixon’s The Clansman. Today we talk with historian Lynn Lyerly about Dixon, his particularly vehement racism, and the propaganda that served as the cornerstone for the modern incarnation of paramilitary hate groups. Lynn is the co-editor (with Bethany Jay) of Understanding and Teaching American Slavery, which is a must for any teacher of US History, and she is currently working on a book on Thomas Dixon: The Apostle of Hate. Today we look at the man himself…
- Why it is so important to understand Dixon’s racism
- His significance in terms of literary culture
- Racism and American heritage
- His intentional work as a racial propagandist
- Judging historical actors from a 21st century perspective
Lynn has a great movie recommendation that I have moved to the top of my list, and she offers excellent advice for students of history. I always ask my guests to suggest a must-read book. Lynn say to check out Ku-Klux: The Birth of the Klan During Reconstruction by Elaine Frantz Parsons…so you had better get to it! Lynn has lots to say on Twitter – so follow her there. Enjoy the show!
Music by Advent Chamber Orchestra is licensed under Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/