In a recent commentary in this newspaper, a self-proclaimed history expert purported that a well-documented, yet highly controversial, research project was in fact “junk history." Any true student of history can tell you that it is not immutable but rather a fluid examination of the past which is constantly expanding and evolving.
If the writer had done his homework, rather than simply parroting the party line, he would know that the basic objection to the 1619 Project being made by academics is whether the preservation of the institution of slavery was “a primary motivation for some of the colonists” to declare their independence. Near the end of the 18th century the British monarchy was considering the abolition of slavery throughout the commonwealth (and did just that in 1807) which would no doubt have had a deleterious impact on the viability of the colonial economy.
The real problem lies in the fact that most conservatives generally like to pretend that slavery was not a contributing factor in either that insurrection or the sectional war fought a little less than a century later in which half a million souls were lost. History has always been tweaked to promote a dominant ideology. It is usually written by the victors, or as in the case of that seditious war against our republic, sometimes by the losers as they attempt to promulgate a false narrative to justify their “lost cause."
The facts remain: slavery built this country; many battles have been fought to preserve it and its significance continues to be denied by those who wish to maintain white supremacy and patriarchy above all else.
Kenyon Kelly is the co-director of the Catawba County Truth & Reconciliation Committee and lives in the Startown community.