While I have a moment
I do have a totally different blog that I want to post involving my working with Joseph McGill of the National Trust for Historic Preservation on his recent visit out to Historic Brattonsville, but I need to wait until I get home to put those pictures up. What I wanted to do a quick blog about was how long slavery existed in what we now know as America. I always hear from various people that slavery was around for 400 years. I’m no math major, and I could clearly see that for slavery to be around for 400 years, then it would have had to start in the 1400s.
With the first Africans being brought to Jamestown in 1619, and slavery being abolished in 1863, I’m not seeing 400 years of history, I’m seeing 244. So then, why do folks obsess about the 400 years thing? As I talk more and more to people about what I do and endure the cringed faces, I realize that a lot of people are lost on the issue of slavery. I’m stepping my game up and re-reading a lot of sources I used for my thesis and delving deeper into the institution of slavery and what that meant to American culture then and now.
I want to understand why there is this need to NOT discuss slavery, and I don’t think I can. I understand why people may feel uncomfortable talking about some issues in slavery, hell, I get a little squirmy myself sometimes, but I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to know what built this country. At its core slavery is two things: An institution and a business.It’s inhumane, but unless we can understand why it took place, we’ll never be able to fully learn about our history. Without learning about our history, we will always spout off incorrect numbers like 400, or not realize that some freedmen contracts worded themselves so that it was slavery after emancipation. I don’t know. All I know is that the more I get into my job, the more I am drawn to teach others about slavery and what it has done. It has made many afraid, it has made many ashamed, it has made many angry, but most of all, it has made many not know the truth.