“Racial wallpaper” and the power of mapping

Sorry for not blogging here for the past few weeks. It’s because I’m blogging somewhere else– at the City of Print blog sponsored by the NEH Institute on the City of Print I am currently attending in New York City. Here is something I just posted today.

City of Print

In response to Dylann Roof’s killing of nine people in Charleston this past week, Jon Stewart commented what he called the state’s “racial wallpaper” of white supremacy: “The confederate flag flies over South Carolina. And the roads are named for confederate generals.”

To test the truth of Stewart’s statement, Laura Newman Eckstein, a rising senior at Haverford College, created a map of streets named after Confederate generals and African American leaders, respectively:

From "The Confederate Streets of South Carolina" at From “The Confederate Streets of South Carolina” at

While the map raises as many questions as it answers (are the streets in prominent locations, or on back roads? Are they single-block “commemorations,” say, marking the block where a historic figure was born, or miles-long thoroughfares or highways? and so on), it make visible, in a powerful way, what “racial wallpaper” looks like.

At the end of another blog post, this one written by my friend (and South Carolina literary historian) Susanna Ashton, of…

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