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No Common Ground

Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice

224 pp., 5.5 x 8.5, 14 halftones, notes, index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6267-1
    Published: April 2021
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-6268-8
    Published: February 2021

Ferris and Ferris Books

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When it comes to Confederate monuments, there is no common ground. Polarizing debates over their meaning have intensified into legislative maneuvering to preserve the statues, legal battles to remove them, and rowdy crowds taking matters into their own hands. These conflicts have raged for well over a century--but they've never been as intense as they are today.


In this eye-opening narrative of the efforts to raise, preserve, protest, and remove Confederate monuments, Karen L. Cox depicts what these statues meant to those who erected them and how a movement arose to force a reckoning. She lucidly shows the forces that drove white southerners to construct beacons of white supremacy, as well as the ways that antimonument sentiment, largely stifled during the Jim Crow era, returned with the civil rights movement and gathered momentum in the decades after the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Monument defenders responded with gerrymandering and "heritage" laws intended to block efforts to remove these statues, but hard as they worked to preserve the Lost Cause vision of southern history, civil rights activists, Black elected officials, and movements of ordinary people fought harder to take the story back. Timely, accessible, and essential, No Common Ground is the story of the seemingly invincible stone sentinels that are just beginning to fall from their pedestals.


“Engrossing. . . . This clear and thorough account, essential for Southern libraries, is likely to become a standard reference work on its subject. . . . A well-documented history of Confederate monuments and the conflicting views they inspire.”—Kirkus Reviews

“In her superb contribution to the history of the South, Cox targets the massive influence of the United Daughters of the Confederacy on Southerners in the late 1890s and beyond, especially in the area of monument building. . . . An invaluable study of all-too-frequently misplaced genealogical and regional venerations. Highly recommended for U.S., antebellum, Civil War, African American, and Southern historians and scholars, and for all readers.”—Library Journal, starred review

"The definitive history of Confederate monuments and their surrounding controversies…. a masterful public-history analysis.” —Rebecca Brenner Graham, The Society for U.S. Intellectual History

“The title of Karen L. Cox’s book makes her point: there has never been common ground on the meaning of southern Confederate monuments. Her passionate, thorough history shows them not merely as expressions of historical memory, but fundamentally as embodiments of voting rights and voter suppression. A most illuminating book on an issue whose time never disappeared.”—Nell Irvin Painter, author of The History of White People and Southern History across the Color Line

"Karen Cox was delving into the history of the United Daughters of the Confederacy long before the rest of the nation caught up. She can't get enough credit for her pioneering work on southern memory. She is the perfect person to tell the history of battles over Confederate monuments—and now is the perfect moment to set the record straight."—William Sturkey, author of Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White

"A timely and necessary work that reframes the story of Confederate memorialization by highlighting the African American voices of dissent who ultimately changed the terms of the debate. Cox's mastery of her sources are on full display. She meticulously shows how the long history of monument defenders and African American resistance set the stage for the wave of monument removal that followed the death of George Floyd. For communities reckoning with their own Confederate landscapes, No Common Ground is a must-read book."—Hilary Green, author of Educational Reconstruction: African American Schools in the Urban South, 1865–1890