400 years after slaves were brought to America, few Americans know the truth about slavery

August 29, 2019

Many Americans have a faulty understanding of slavery in America, the origins of the civil war, and the ongoing legacy of both. That, Penn GSE’s Ebony Elizabeth Thomas recently told Vox, was not an accident. Since the Civil War, a narrative sympathetic to the Confederacy, and enslavers, has existed in classrooms on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.

“Due to efforts by a group of Southern socialites known as the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Lost Cause ideology influenced history textbooks as well as books for children and adults,” Thomas wrote.

“Even an accurate historical curriculum emphasizes progress, triumph, and optimism for the country as a whole, without taking into account how slavery continues to affect black Americans and influence present-day domestic policy from urban planning to health care.”

Part of the problem, Thomas told The Washington Post, was the lack of accurate, age-appropriate teaching materials.

“The kinds of materials that we have to teach kids about this subject are very limited. It’s really the third rail in early-childhood education,” Thomas told the Post.

Both stories noted the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved people from West Africa arriving in America.

Ebony Elizabeth Thomas’s book The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games was published in 2019. The Dark Fantastic examines the lack of diversity in children’s and young adult literature and programming and questions the representation and stories of the characters of color that do exist. 

Read the full story on Vox here.

Read the full Post piece here.