How Will MOC Focus On Confederacy?
By Scott C. Boyd
(January 2014 Civil War News)
RICHMOND, Va. – What will happen to the “Confederate-ness” of the Museum of the Confederacy (MOC) as it joins with the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar (ACWC) to form a new Civil War museum in Richmond?
MOC President and CEO Waite Rawls discussed this and related topics in an extended phone interview on Dec. 13.
The new museum, created Oct. 15, is called “Civil War Holdings” (CWH) until its name is announced sometime in January. Its single board of trustees replaces the separate museum boards.
The interview used MOC’s legal name, Confederate Memorial Literary Society (CMLS).
Asked about the ramifications of the CMLS no longer having its own independent board, Rawls responded: “So what? The board of CWH will look out for the CMLS…. CWH is a much more powerful entity than the CMLS alone.”
Using an analogy, Rawls asked rhetorically, “I have two children instead of one, so I’m going to harm the first one?”
“You ask questions as if somehow CWH will harm CMLS – its interests, assets and mission, and you are 100 percent wrong. It is in our self-interest to do everything to support CMLS and ACWC,” he said.
“Will all our members support what we do in the future? No,” Rawls said.
“Will some object? Yes.”
“Will many more think it is great? Yes.”
Rawls continued, “We have 5,000 members. My purpose as an entity is not to satisfy the least common denominator, but to do what is the best long-term good for the entirety. That’s what the CWH board will do.”
“For the folks who say, ‘We wish you were only Confederate,’ we have bigger sights in mind,” he said.
“We think we can do a better job educating people about the Confederacy if we tell the whole story of the Civil War.”
Using the analogy of preserving a Civil War battlefield, Rawls asked rhetorically, “How good a job would we do if we only preserved the Confederate half of it?”
Noting that heritage groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy have a different purpose than a museum, Rawls said, “Their mission is to honor their ancestors. Our mission is to use this collection to educate the public.”
He acknowledged, “The heritage groups would like us to be a heritage group, but we’re not.”
“People who walk in the front door may not know which century [the Civil War] happened in,” according to Rawls. “Their ancestor may have fought in a civil war in Ireland or Thailand.”
He mentioned a Japanese-American man interviewed on PBS who said he didn’t understand America until he watched the Ken Burns Civil War series.
“That’s a powerful thing. I want to influence people like that. That’s what this institution is for.”