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Let Us Never Forget the Confederacy and Slavery!

By       Message Thomas Farrell       (Page 1 of 7 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   15 comments

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April 11, 2010

In the 1960s, I had a very unusual and very memorable experience that I'd like to tell you about. I was reminded of it recently as a result of the flap that followed the proclamation issued by Virgina Governor Robert McDonnell proclaiming April as Confederate History Month.

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In his proclamation McDonnell focused on those "who fought for their homes and communities and Commonwealth." In addition, he urged people today to understand "the sacrifice of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War."

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But he did not mention slavery. An uproar about the omission of slavery followed. As a result, McDonnell amended his proclamation to mention slavery.

This brings me to the experience I mentioned above. One summer in the 1960s, I worked in a summer program for black inner-city students, along with a number of other recent college graduates about my age.

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One of the black college graduates on the staff of the program ran a workshop on black history for the high-school students in the program. As part of his workshop on black history, he asked me and another white staffer to prepare a debate about slavery in which we would prepare suitable speeches and dress up in period costumes for the debate. The other fellow was to play the role of the abolitionist Daniel Webster (1782-1852). I was to play the role of John C. Calhoun (1782-1850).

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
 

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