Do We Really Know American History?

By Catherine Onyemelukwe

I get regular emails from Atlanta Black Star. In the email I receive, the online journal declares its point of view: “Atlanta Black Star is a narrative company.  We publish narratives intentionally and specifically to enlighten and transform the world.”

This week they published a story on America’s history and our lack of knowledge about it. The author of the article, D. Amari Jackson, says, “A 2012 [American Council of Trustees and Alumni] ACTA survey found that less than 20 percent of college graduates could identify the effect of the Emancipation Proclamation. A 2015 survey revealed more than one-third could not place the Civil War within the correct 20-year time frame.

“Such widespread historical ignorance is problematic for a nation currently grappling with deeply entrenched issues of economics, power and race,” she says.

The lack of knowledge is frightening. But there’s so much more that many of us don’t know or don’t think about. She cites Gerald Horne, the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, who says, “America began as a slaveholder’s republic.” According to Horne, the American Revolution was fought because the slaveholders wanted to maintain their slaves, not for some lofty principle of freedom. The colonists also wanted to continue the practice of dispossessing Native Americans of their land which they feared Britain would halt.

He believes that today, “the exoneration of police officers who kill us [Blacks] on a regular basis tends to show” that there the Constitution does not really pertain to everyone. There is a “disconnect between the official stated policy of nondiscrimination and “what’s actually happening to Black people in the streets.”

Harsh words! I find truth in the article. What do you think?

 

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