Geico Quietly Takes Down Ad Referencing Civil War Massacre of Black Soldiers

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tags: racism, Civil War, advertisements

Historian Bob O’Connor could not believe the Geico ad was still on the radio, but there it was. The spot hawking homeowners insurance featured a woman talking about building a fort of pillows in her house, a normally innocuous description until she glibly dubbed it “Fort Pillow.”

The Civil War expert was appalled, especially at a time when Black Lives Matter had become an international movement. In 1864, he said, Confederate troops massacred around 300, mostly black, Union soldiers after they had lifted their hands in surrender at Fort Pillow outside of Memphis. O’Connor said the attack was led by Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest — who went on to become the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan — and was motivated by the Confederate’s outrage that the North had enlisted black soldiers.

Geico has a reputation for catchy commercials and radio ads, and usually posts them on its website. The 30-second ad, “Pillow Soft Fortress,” notes that “home is more than just a place. Home is where you build a giant pillow fort in your living room.” If asked to explain the pillow fort, the narrator recommends, say it’s for your dog, making it the opening salvo in a “web of lies that’s almost as intricate as the crown molding in Fort Pillow.”

[The Civil War massacre that left nearly 200 black soldiers ‘murdered’]

O’Connor said he first heard the ad on WTEM 980, a sports radio station in Washington, D.C., in February. “It was Black History Month, so it kind of ticked me off,” he said. “The average person wouldn’t know that it had racist implications, but I certainly do.”

Read entire article at Washington Post

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