The Historic Franklin Masonic Hall Foundation is launching its lecture series “Our America” Thursday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. at the Franklin Masonic Hall, focusing on the legacies of Reconstruction.
Following the Civil War, Americans faced the challenge of rebuilding a society that was divided by slavery and the upheaval of war. “Our America” is a speaker-discussion series exploring the trials and triumphs of this period, as well as how community, individual choices, events and historic amnesia continue to shape the lives of all Americans over 150 years later.
The panel of speakers for the first lecture will offer historical perspectives on the legacies of Reconstruction and the continued momentum for a greater consideration of civil rights and equality. Moderated by HFMHF Executive Director and historian Rachael Finch, panelists are Brigette Jones, director of African American Studies at Belle Meade Plantation; Frederick Murphy, the founder of History Before Us and producer of the award-winning documentary The American South as We Know It; and Dr. Learotha Williams Jr., scholar of African American, Civil War and Reconstruction, and Public History at Tennessee State University.
“It is impossible to understand the United States today without fully recognizing the trials and triumphs of Reconstruction,” Finch said. “To understand the possibility of democracy in our nation, we must first comprehend the entire history and legacy of Reconstruction.
“We tend to jump from the end of the Civil War to the Jim Crow era and forget there was a remarkable experiment (Reconstruction) where the Constitution was rewritten. We live under the Constitution that includes the 13th, 14thand 15thAmendments. However, during Reconstruction, Americans lived within the flux and chaos that involved racial reckoning. And, we still do today.
“Our America” series is the perfect launching point to provide important details and add a critical lens for how we should think about what democracy is and is not in our nation today and why challenges remain from us fully grasping the potential of our American democracy.”