Prince, K. Michael
Prince, K. Michael
Education: Attended Clemson University and the University of Virginia; University of Munich, Ph.D., 1991.
Writer and historian.
Also a contributing author to the Sites of Memory blog.
K. Michael Prince attended both Clemson University, in Clemson, South Carolina, and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville before receiving his Ph.D. in 1991 from the University of Munich. He is an American historian, translator, and freelance writer residing in Munich, Germany. Prince published Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! South Carolina and the Confederate Flag in 2004 through the University of South Carolina Press.
Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! details the 1990s controversy surrounding the display of the Confederate flag, particularly in Columbia, South Carolina. The Confederate flag was placed atop the South Carolina state capitol building in 1961 as a commemoration of the centennial of the American Civil War. Its display in other public locations statewide caused a conflict in the 1990s over the flag's personal and symbolic meanings. Thomas J. Brown, in a review for the Georgia Historical Quarterly, observed that the book explores "the fragmentation of the contemporary South and the mobilization of particular factions amid considerable indifference toward Confederate symbols among other segments of the public." Brown further commented that Prince's "success in that endeavor is determined largely by his sources, the heart of which consists of materials situating the placement of Confederate flags in the House and Senate chambers and atop the capitol dome in the context of white South Carolinians' resistance to civil rights advances from the 1930's to the 1960's," and Prince's investigation provides "a general framework for understanding why the flag issue erupted when it did."
In chronicling the uses of the Confederate flag, Prince explores the cultural, racial, and political elements that operate within these public conflicts. Michael Dennis, in his essay for the Canadian Journal of History, added that Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! "is a welcome and significant addition to this literature. Its value lies in the fact that it links the particular (South Carolina and the flag debate) to the general (the contest over southern historical consciousness) in a meditation on race and the modern southern mind." Prince's scope covers over three decades of American history including Reconstruction, New Deal, and Civil Rights politics and, Dennis observed, "Prince carries the story forward through the legislative contortions, proposal after counterproposal, that aimed at solving the dilemma of symbolic exclusion in an era of formal equality." Moreover, North Carolina Historical Review contributor Alex Christopher described the text as "a sobering look at the South Carolina flag controversy and, by extension, how racial relations intermingle and collide with perceptions of ethnic cultural heritages." According to Christopher, Prince "traces the evolution of various flags in South Carolina, charting the associated imagery and power that followed a particular design" and places them in his constructed historical context where he "destroys the mythology of a constant static symbolism." Meaning, the public had many opinions over time regarding the flag's display, and the political response to the public's concern regarding the flag is only one perspective that Prince addresses. Although W. Scott Poole, in a review for the Journal of Southern History, pointed out that "Prince sometimes pulls his evidence too quickly from fiction to give his discussion atmosphere and resonance," Poole acknowledged that "Prince's strong narrative and sense of language makes this a book worth picking up for anyone interested in a basic account of the controversy over Confederate symbols in one state." Prince endeavors to provide an unbiased account of the flag's many uses, its diverse symbolism, and the debates surrounding it in this history. In addition, John M. Coski, in a contribution to Southern Cultures, added that Prince achieves "a happy medium between historical analysis and contemporary reporting."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Canadian Journal of History, March 22, 2006, Michael Dennis, review of Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! South Carolina and the Confederate Flag, p. 157.
Journal of Southern History, May 1, 2005, W. Scott Poole, review of Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!, p. 463.
North Carolina Historical Review, January 1, 2005, Alex Christopher, review of Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!, p. 115.
Reference & Research Book News, May 1, 2004, review of Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!, p. 25.
Southern Cultures, June 22, 2005, John M. Coski, review of Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!, p. 99.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (May 1, 2006), Matthew Mace Barbee, review of Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!
University of South Carolina Press Web site,http://www.sc.edu/uscpress/ (March 20, 2006), author profile.