Guernica Magazine

The Alamo is a Rupture

It’s time to reckon with the true history of the mythologized Texas landmark—and the racism and imperialism it represents. The post The Alamo is a Rupture appeared first on Guernica.
Art by Jia Sung.

Read more of our new series on American mythology, Rewriting the West.


The United States is experiencing a reckoning with its racist history. Civic markers, from street and school names to public monuments commemorating such figures as Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, have been toppled. In 2017, the city of New Orleans began removing Confederate statues from its central public spaces. Confederate flags flying over statehouses have come down, after the 2015 shooting at a church in Charleston South Carolina.Two years ago, the Houston Independent School District stripped public schools of their Confederate names. The following year, Dowling Street—which was named in memory of a local Confederate war hero and bisected the mostly African American Third Ward—was renamed Emancipation Street. State officials have removed a plaque from the Texas Capitol placed by the Children of the Confederacy, which falsely states, “Teach the truths of history…one of the most important of which is, that the war between the states was not a rebellion nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery.” (The debate over where to house the plaque continues to provoke passionate arguments regarding its importance.) Most recently, in November of 2018, the Texas State Board of Education revised the state curriculum to include language that acknowledged the “central role” of slavery in the Civil War.

Amid all this scrutiny, one monument has been immune, seemingly too sacred for discussion among the pols and many in the public: the Alamo. In fact, the state is poised to pour millions of dollars into the Alamo, in the name of a project to renovate and reconfigure the monument’s grounds and its surrounding streets.

The story of the Alamo has a rich popular history in dime-store novels and Western films. In 1915, D.W. Griffith’s production company even made a film about the story, called Martyrs of the Alamo. Much like

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