The Truth Should Set You Free . . .

I AM AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN. I HATE THE INSTITUTION OF SLAVERY AS MUCH AS BISHOP DUKES DOES. BUT I HAVE NOTICED SOMETHING HE SEEMS TO HAVE MISSED. I AM NOT A SLAVE! AND NEITHER IS HE.

SLAVERY WAS AN AWFUL HISTORICAL INJUSTICE, AND IT HELPED SET IN MOTION MANY OF THE PROBLEMS THE BLACK COMMUNITY FACES TODAY. BUT IT IS NOT THE PROBLEM WE NEED TO SOLVE TODAY. THOSE PROBLEMS ARE POVERTY, ILLITERACY, DRUGS, CRIME AND VIOLENCE.

TEARING DOWN STATUES DOESN’T SOLVE ANY OF THOSE PROBLEMS, AND SOLVING THOSE PROBLEMS IS WHAT WE NEED TO BE FOCUSED ON.

IT MIGHT CREATE A PROBLEM, THOUGH. TEARING DOWN STATUES THAT REPRESENT HISTORY IS LIKE PRETENDING HISTORY DIDN’T HAPPEN. IT DID. AND NOT EVERYTHING THAT RESULTS FROM HISTORY IS SOMETHING YOU WILL LIKE. WE NEED TO REMEMBER ALL OF IT, EVEN (AND PERHAPS ESPECIALLY) THE PARTS THAT BOTHER US BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT WE LEARN FROM.

TELL YOU WHAT: WHY DON’T YOU ERASE FROM HISTORY EVERY REFERENCE TO A PERSON WHO HAD A SERIOUS CHARACTER FLAW?

OR WE COULD JUST TELL THE WHOLE STORY. YES, THESE MEN HAD AN AMAZING VISION AND USED IT TO CREATE THE GREATEST NATION THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN. YES, THEY GAVE US A POLITICAL SYSTEM THAT HAS PROTECTED FREEDOM AND PROSPERITY LIKE NOTHING WE’VE EVER SEEN.

ALSO, THEY WERE PARTICIPANTS IN AN INSTITUTION THAT WAS EVIL, IF VERY COMMON FOR WEALTHY MEN OF THEIR DAY. THEY MIGHT HAVE BEEN BETTER MEN IF THEY HAD RID THE WORLD OF THAT INSTITUTION, AND THEY DID NOT DO THAT. BUT THEY DID CREATE THE POLITICAL SYSTEM THROUGH WHICH IT WOULD BE ELIMINATED LESS THAN A CENTURY LATER. THAT IS NOT NOTHING.

FLAWED MEN AND WOMEN HAVE GIVEN US QUITE A WORLD, AND WE SHOULD KNOW AS MUCH ABOUT IT AS WE CAN. MAYBE THE LESSONS THEY TEACH CAN EVEN HELP US SOLVE THE PROBLEMS WE FACE TODAY.

OR WE CAN WASTE OUR TIME TEARING DOWN STATUES, WHICH SOLVES NOTHING, NOR DOES IT MAKE HISTORY GO AWAY. IT JUST MAKES US IGNORANT OF IT.”