Tag Archives: slavery

‘Juneteenth Grandma’ earns high honor

There have been few Americans who have earned the nation’s highest civilian honor more than the acclaimed “Grandmother of Juneteenth.”

Opal Lee lives in Fort Worth and this week she was one of 19 Americans to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Biden.

Lee dedicated several years of her life to ensuring that the nation honor the proclamation issued in June 1865 in Galveston, informing Black Americans that they were emancipated from the bondage of slavery. It took two years to get the word out after the Emancipation Proclamation was declared by President Lincoln.

Opal Lee’s dogged pursuit of this recognition resulted finally in the creation of a national holiday to celebrate Blacks’ freedom from the horrific lives they endured as slaves.

She has been honored repeatedly by local media outlets in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, as well as in many other parts of the country. Now she is the proud recipient of the highest honor our great nation can bestow on its citizens.

Well done, Opal Lee.

Holocaust on full display

NUREMBERG, Germany — My friend told me something about the education he received growing up in this country that I feel compelled to share.

While many American politicians seek to avoid teaching our children about all aspects of our country’s history, German children are given the opportunity to tour first-hand one of history’s greatest scourges.

My good pal Martin explained to me that all students are required to take field trips to tour one of the death camps built by the Nazi regime that launched World War II in 1939 and sought to exterminate a race of people.

The Holocaust is on full display in Germany these days, Martin said.

“We have to see it ourselves,” he told me this morning. This is my second trip to Nuremberg; I came here eight years ago with my bride, Kathy Anne and on that 2016 visit, I toured the Documentation Center, the museum built to commemorate the war trials that took place in Nuremberg after WWII.

Martin told me on that first visit that “we aren’t proud of that period in our history, but we do not hide it, either.” He said then that Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror was a “blight” on Germany’s otherwise glorious history.

Today I learned about how German children are taken to one of the sites used by the Nazis to imprison innocent families … and where they were executed!

And to think, thus, that American politicians do not want our children to learn about our own nation’s “blight,” such as, say, our enslavement of human beings.

Absolutely disgusting! We mustn’t hide, either, from the sins committed by our own nation’s leaders.

Imagine being ‘sold’

POPLAR FOREST, Va. — The thought came to me as I was touring Thomas Jefferson’s “getaway house” in rural Virginia that made me ponder the debate among Republicans over whether “slavery had its benefits.”

Of course it didn’t! The third U.S. president owned slaves. They were property, just like the farm implements he kept in his storage places, or the horses he let roam in his corrals.

Yet we’re hearing from a Republican candidate for president, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who suggests that students need to be taught about the “benefits of slavery.”

I was struck when I read about how President Jefferson needed cash to pay off a big debt. What did he do? He decided to sell the human beings he owned as slaves to help retire the debt.

Imagine for just a moment being sold. Imagine that you might no longer be the property of one man and would become the property of another, a stranger.

I cannot for the ever-lovin’ life of me wrap my head around such a thing. Nor can I see any benefit at any level the idea of being owned by someone who thinks of me as three-fifths of a human being.

My brief visit to this relatively unknown exhibit near Lynchburg opened my eyes even wider to the utter stupidity of such a pronouncement coming from an individual who wants to settle into the Oval Office and lead a nation that comprises descendants of slaves.

We venerate Thomas Jefferson to this day as one of our nation’s founders, but oh brother … he had his serious flaws. Owning human beings was one of them.


Slavery was ‘good’ for Blacks? Umm … no!

Florida students are getting a serious dose of propaganda courtesy of the government of that seriously crazy state.

The state is now requiring public schools to teach curricula that states that Blacks actually derived some “benefit” from slavery. Yep. That’s the state now governed by an idiot who wants to become the next POTUS.

Ron DeSantis, a Republican (of course), wants to soft-pedal the nation’s bleakest chapter in its storied history by suggesting that Blacks drew benefit by being considered three-fifths of a human being and by being “owned” by slaveholders, the way they owned, oh, cattle or farm equipment.

We fought a Civil War over slavery. Florida was on the losing side of that bloody conflict. To suggest that human beings could derive some benefit from being owned by other human beings is as disgusting a public policy as anything I ever have heard.


Pols step up correctly!

My previous blog spoke well of the Texas State Board of Education’s decision to keep teaching elementary public school students about “slavery” and to forgo the use of a term called “involuntary relocation” in our curriculum.

I want to highlight one aspect of that decision. It came unanimously. Yes, 15 members of the SBOE voted as one. Why is that a big deal? Because the SBOE comprises politicians who are elected to the office. They run as Republicans and Democrats. They have constituencies to which they must appeal. They represent vastly different districts drawn across our vast state.

They come from different ideological backgrounds, bias and political leanings.

Yet on this matter, they spoke with one voice.

Make no mistake, the SBOE made the correct statement. The term “slavery” should remain in our public school curriculum to remind our children of the darkest chapter in our nation’s history.

That the SBOE locked arms on this matter is cause for high praise.


SBOE pushes back on language change

Well, I’ll be deep fried and rolled in oats. The Texas State Board of Education, a committee of 15 politicians elected to a panel that determines public school curriculum, has shown some needed guts.

The SBOE appears to have squashed an idea to change the way schools teach second graders about slavery. A group of educators had pitched an idea to call the enslavement of human beings as “involuntary relocation.”

The SBOE said “no” to that idea. Texas’s public schools will continue to teach our children about “slavery,” and will keep the language as it has been presented.

Yahoo News reported: While involuntary relocation isn’t an entirely unknown term in social studies, it often “has relationships to refugees and forced displacement due to violence or ethnic cleansing,” said Neil Shanks, clinical assistant professor of middle and secondary education at Baylor University.

In this case, Shanks added, the term appeared to be “intended to water down the issue of slavery.”

Texas board of education strikes down proposal to call slavery ‘involuntary relocation’ (yahoo.com)

Let’s understand that slavery is the darkest chapter in our nation’s otherwise glorious story. We shouldn’t dilute its impact by introducing the kind of terminology that means next to nothing. “Involuntary relocation?” What the hell is that?

The State Board of Education, to its great credit, voted unanimously to stay the course on teaching our children about the evils of slavery.


No way to soften ‘slavery’

This cannot possibly be real, cannot be serious, cannot be accurate. Some Texas educators now want to introduce a new form of study … changing the term “slavery” to something called “involuntary relocation.”

Good, ever-lovin’ grief! This can’t be happening. Oh, but it is happening.

The Texas Tribune reports:

How do I say this? The enslavement of human beings during the formation and early development of the United States is part of who we are as a nation, who we became and who we sought to correct.

To suggest that our children no longer should be taught what slavery meant to millions of our ancestors is to deny the facts as they occurred.

Texas education proposes referring to slavery as “involuntary relocation” | The Texas Tribune

“I don’t like it because it’s a personal belief. I don’t like it because it’s not rooted in truth,” said Aicha Davis, an SBOE member who represents Dallas and Fort Worth. “We can have all the discussions we want, but we have to adopt the truth for our students.”

We all have been told at times that “the truth hurts.”

Fine. Let it hurt. Slavery is the most egregious blot on our nation’s history. Our children should learn about it in its rawest form.


CRT: not about ‘hating’ America

Someone has to explain to me: How does teaching our public school students about race, racism and discrimination indoctrinate them into a “hate America” thought process?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he intends to prevent teachers from educating students in his state about such things as slavery, racial discrimination and how that played a part in the development of our nation’s history.

They call it “critical race theory.” Perhaps it’s the name of the concept that has so many politicians up in arms. The terms “critical race” somehow are interpreted to mean that students who learn about racism in this country will grow up hating themselves as Americans, that they will be so darn ashamed of their country that will grow up to seek to create a vastly different country.

I don’t get it. I do not understand why public educators must be told they cannot teach such things to our students.

It is a fact that this country enslaved Black people. It is a fact that those people were denied the rights of citizenship in the country of their residence. It also is a fact that society didn’t value Black people as full-fledged human beings; they were deemed the “property” of their “owners.”

Shouldn’t teachers be allowed to educate students on what all of that means to citizens today? And shouldn’t teachers also be allowed to tell students what the country has done over many years to repair the damage that was done to those who were enslaved? Yes and yes … in my view.

I see nothing wrong with teaching children about the racial history of this country. It is a major part of our national story, the one that is still being written.

Someone has to explain why that is such a bad thing. Let’s discuss. OK? I’m all ears.


Honest Abe: unelectable

This is the face of an unelectable politician and, no, it is not because he isn’t particularly “telegenic.” It is because his ideas within his beloved Republican Party have become grist for the trash heap.

Consider the very notion that the man I consider to be our nation’s greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, is no longer the voice and face of a party that once called itself “The Party of Lincoln.” President Lincoln held the nation together during its darkest period, during the time when Americans fought each other over slavery and that thing one side referred to as “states’ rights.”

Then, as the Civil War drew to a close and as President Lincoln delivered his second inaugural speech after winning re-election in 1864, he said he would bind the wounds that divided us, that he would proceed with “malice toward none and charity for all.” An assassin struck a month later and denied the president the chance to deliver on his promise.

The party under which he ran for president twice has become something the president wouldn’t recognize. He certainly would not condone the tone it has taken in recent years. It has been hijacked and twisted into a form that bears no resemblance to the party of the so-called “big tent.”

Donald John Trump’s control over the party starting with the 2016 GOP presidential primary campaign has taken it on a destructive course. It’s not that the party is destroying itself. It is that the ideas it promotes has gained new followers who are wedded to the hideous notions espoused by its leader.

The Grand Old Party has become a cult whose followers are infiltrating the ranks of candidates throughout Congress and into statehouses, county courthouses and even into ostensibly non-partisan city halls and school board meeting rooms.

Imagine a Republican with the chops of Abraham Lincoln seeking public office today. Imagine how the 16th president himself would fare were he to become a candidate.

Abraham Lincoln likely couldn’t be elected as a Republican because his party would lack the good sense to nominate him in the first place. The future of civil discourse and debate in this country deserves better than what lies ahead.


Cancel culture? Really?

As a general rule I don’t usually quote “Star Trek” actors to buttress a point I want to make, but this one attributed to Mr. Sulu seems to ring so very true to me.

GOP politicians in Texas and everywhere else keep raising hell about “cancel culture” politics they allege are espoused by progressives. You know how it goes: Someone finds a phrase or a term to be offensive, so they set out to blot that from our vernacular; “cancel culture” has resulted in the bringing down of Confederate memorials honoring traitors who sought to topple the U.S. government during the Civil War.

The right wingers among us just can’t stand that notion.

And yet … they seek to ban books that teach students about racism in our nation’s history, about slavery and about certain damning chapters in the building of our nation.

Isn’t that more than just a little hypocritical?

It sure looks like it to me.