Forest Park memorial

In a new St. Louis Public Radio feature, UMSL Professor of History Louis Gerteis discusses the controversy and history surrounding Civil War memorials in St. Louis’ Forest Park. (Photo by Mary Delach Leonard/St. Louis Public Radio)

“Why does the Civil War still hold sway in St. Louis and Missouri?”

When an inquisitive St. Louisan asked St. Louis Public Radio’s Curious Louis this question recently, the station turned to another “Louis” for some answers: University of Missouri–St. Louis Professor of History Louis Gerteis.

Louis Gerteis

Louis Gerteis, chair of the Department of History at UMSL, offers some answers in response to a big question recently submitted to St. Louis Public Radio. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Gerteis’ expertise informs the in-depth feature, which offers insight into Missouri’s situation leading up to, during and after the Civil War.

“St. Louis, by the time the Civil War broke out, was a Northern city in a Southern state,” Gerteis tells STLPR’s Mary Delach Leonard. “If your readers want to consider why St. Louis is not regarded as a part of Missouri in a lot of ways, it goes back to that reality.”

The story – and Gerteis’ insights in particular – begins with a focus on the controversial Confederate memorial that has stood in St. Louis’ Forest Park for more than a century. It goes on to trace the impact of Reconstruction, eras of rapid growth in the region, clashes old and new, and what President Abraham Lincoln once described as “250 years of unrequited toil.”

“You can’t separate the United States from slavery or the effects of slavery from the United States,” Gerteis says in the piece. “When people talk of being colorblind, and I don’t care if you’re black, white or purple, there’s a deep untruth to that.”

To read the full story from St. Louis Public Radio, click here.

Evie Hemphill

Evie Hemphill