A few years back, I took a PSU course on American History. I have to say... Reconstruction and the years just following were the most fascinating to me. It seemed utterly revealing of human nature, both the best and worst of it.
I think there is value to studying our history, and being honest about it. To my mind, there are few crimes greater than re-writing history to suit a particular agenda. It is (Not like, but IS) telling ourselves lies. It's exactly like going to your doctor and lying to her about your symptoms. History is our treasury of human society.