Southern historian will discuss Confederate monument controversy on Oct. 3 at free MTSU lecture 

Author and historian Karen L. Cox will discuss Confederate monuments’ legacy of white supremacy in Tennessee and throughout the South at a free MTSU lecture on Monday, October 3. (Photo and Images Provided)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — An expert on Southern history and culture will delve into Confederate monuments’ legacy of white supremacy when she talks with a Middle Tennessee State University audience on Monday, October 3, at this fall’s Strickland Visiting Scholar Lecture. Karen L. Cox, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, will speak on No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice at MTSU’s James Union Building at 7 p.m.

Cox’s free public talk will be followed by a question-and-answer session and a book-signing opportunity. 

The lecture is set for the Tennessee Room inside the JUB, located at 516 Alma Mater Drive just off Middle Tennessee Boulevard. A campus map is available at   Guests should park in the Ingram Lot, across MT Boulevard from the President’s House, and ride a free shuttle to the event from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Return rides will be available after the lecture until 9:30 p.m.  Guests with disabilities can use the accessible entrance at the back of the JUB and take the elevator to the second-floor Tennessee Room.  

Cox, who also is founding director of the UNC graduate public history program, published her fourth book, No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice, in 2021 to trace the history of the controversial shrines and why white men and women erected them to mark their “Lost Cause” mythology and what they saw as their continuing supremacy. 

In her Oct. 3 lecture, Cox will discuss how the memorials began cropping up shortly after the Civil War — the first at a public courthouse was in Bolivar, Tennessee, in 1867 — and escalated near the 50th anniversary of the conflict as the builders used the markers to support their Jim Crow legislation. The civil rights movement in the 1960s, and the war’s centennial, saw another wave of Confederate memorials erected across the South as white supremacists sought to intimidate their Black fellow citizens. 

Anti-monument sentiment grew over the next decades as Black Americans took their rightful places as business and community leaders and won elected offices.  Monument proponents fought back with gerrymandered elections and “heritage commissions” that banned renaming or removing Confederate-themed tributes. The “Black Lives Matter” movement’s emergence in 2013 helped convince growing numbers of Americans to call for the removal of Confederate monuments.  

In a 2017 column for The Washington Post, Cox, a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, wrote that Confederate monuments are “a legacy of the brutally racist Jim Crow era” and that “the whole point of Confederate monuments is to celebrate white supremacy.” 

MTSU’s Department of History in the College of Liberal Arts sponsors the twice-yearly Strickland Lecture series. The Strickland Visiting Scholar Program helps MTSU students meet with renowned scholars whose expertise spans a variety of historical issues.  The Strickland family established the program in memory of Roscoe Lee Strickland Jr., a longtime professor of European history at MTSU and the first president of the university’s Faculty Senate. 

For more information about this lecture, please contact MTSU’s Department of History at 615-898-5798 or visit The talk also will be livestreamed via Zoom. Access is free and available at •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently-owned, community newspaper located in Lynchburg, Tennessee the home of The Jack Daniel Distillery. We focus on public service, non-partisan, rural journalism. We cover the Metro Moore County government, local tourism, Moore County schools, high school sports, Motlow State Community College, as well as whiskey industry news and regional and state stories that affect our readers.}