In the years immediately after the Civil War, the victors imagined that the US was on the verge of becoming a racially just society. For four long years, Americans had warred against one another over the issue of slavery and whether the states had a right to secede. The Confederate states had staked everything on these ideas. Their determination to cling to them became a matter of pride and at last shame and bitterness, because in the end, they could not carry the argument even with the aid of cannons and guns. When the Union won in 1865, shouldn’t the argument have been over, too? Continue reading
February is seldom as fun as I hope it will be. I dream of escaping to the sledding hill or spending an afternoon out ice-skating, but instead I end up trapped at my desk, thinking of dead presidents, the white and black races, and slavery.
Its calendar page filled with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, the birth and death dates of Frederick Douglass, and the observance of Black History Month, February is a minefield of historic associations, of significance buried but waiting to explode. Continue reading