MONTGOMERY, Ala.: Hundreds of memorials glorifying the Confederacy had been erected by the time Marie Bankhead Owen built what may have been the grandest: The Alabama Department of Archives and History, which cataloged a version of the past that was favored by many Southern whites and all but excluded Black people.
Owen used taxpayer money to turn the department into an overstuffed Confederate attic promoting the idea that the Souths role in the Civil War was noble rather than a fight to maintain slavery.
Now, amid a national reckoning over racial injustice, the agency is confronting that legacy in the state where the civil rights movement was born. In June, leaders formally acknowledged the department’s past role in perpetuating racism and so-called lost cause ideals.
If history is to serve the present, it must…