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July 7, 2021

Daily News Lesson: New PBS doc explores the history of Confederate statues


Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions below. To read the transcript of the video, click here.

Summary: Comedian and journalist C.J. Hunt joins to discuss his new POV documentary, “The Neutral Ground,” which explores the burning issues of Confederate statues. The documentary, which aired on PBS on Monday, July 5, follows the removal of four of Confederate statues in New Orleans and discusses why some of these symbols continue to hold power in our nation.

Discussion questions: 

Warm up questions: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:

  • Who is C.J. Hunt?
  • What is the meaning behind the documentary title, “The Neutral Ground?” 
  • Why does Hunt create comedy?
  • When did C.J. Hunt’s career in comedy begin?
  • Where is the documentary set?
  • How are monuments “maps of power,” according to Hunt?

Focus questions:

  1. C.J. Hunt says the goal of the documentary isn’t to encourage reconciliation with white supremacists, but that “the work is actually reckoning.” What do you think the words “reconciliation” and “reckoning” mean here, and how do they differ?
  2. Hunt refers to the Christopher Columbus and Civil War narratives as “the most effective propaganda campaign that has ever been waged in American history.” What does he mean by this? Can you think of other examples from history class? 

Media literacy: How does the impact of the scenes with the Civil War reenactment actors change once the actors themselves reveal their opinions? 

Additional Resource:


This Daily News Lesson was written by EXTRA intern Jacqueline Kim and EXTRA’s Victoria Pasquantonio. Kim is a junior at Amherst College.

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