In the summer of 2015, Us & Them was approached by two American-born journalists, Roopa Gogineni (who grew up in Charleston and graduated from my alma mater George Washington High School) and Mike Onyiego.
For years, these two have been based in East Africa reporting on the civil war conflicts simmering there. From that part of the world, they were fascinated with the news reports about the mass shooting at a Bible study group at a Baptist church in Charleston, SC. and the subsequent call from many to take down Confederate flags and monuments that were on display in southern cities.
These efforts were met with some animated protest by people who feel these icons are a cherished part of their heritage and were willing to fight to keep them in place.
Roopa and Mike were inspired to travel back to U.S. soil and use their war reporting skills to examine a Civil War in American that, after a century and a half, still seems to be unfinished. They traveled to New Orleans where there was a hot battle over the city’s efforts to take town three long-standing statues honoring Confederate heroes – including a statute of Robert E. Lee.
They found that Old Rebels are not prepared to “go gently into that good night.” Their reporting wrestles with the question: “Can we reconcile different versions of history?”
Us & Them is a joint project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and Trey Kay Productions, with support from the West Virginia Humanities Council.