In Florida, we have a governor, Ron DeSantis, who has declared that slavery provided beneﬁts to the enslaved. Having earned a B.S. degree in Social Studies (History) at Tuskegee Institute (University), I know as a fact that none of my history courses, books and lectures provided any facts that slavery provided beneﬁts to the slaves.
DeSantis earned his B.A. degree in History at Yale University. Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., a former professor of African American Studies at Harvard University, and current host of the PBS Television series “Finding Your Roots,” also earned his B.A. degree in History at Yale University.
Although these two men earned the same degree at the same university, one chooses to declare and promote vicious lies and hypocrisy about African American history and slavery, and the other has lived a professional life of authentically researching, documenting, teaching and sharing the facts of and about African American history and slavery. (Slavery did not provide beneﬁts to the slaves.)
Read these questions and give them some common-sense thought:
1. Who beneﬁts when Africans are chained and brutally taken from their African homes across stormy oceans on ships, stored below in small, cramped quarters, void of air, engulfed with the stench of feces and urine, to slave plantations in America and become the property of plantation slave masters?
2. Who beneﬁts when slaves are forced to work from sun-up to sun-down in the swelting and blistering hot sun, planting, tending and harvesting the crops of the plantation slave masters?
3. Who beneﬁts when slave masters enjoy the luxury of living in grand luxury mansions and slaves are living in crowded one-room shacks, dirt floors, blistering cold in the winters, and swelting heat during the summers?
4. Who beneﬁts when slaves are prohibited (criminalized) from learning to read and write, keeping them ignorant and controlled?
5.Who beneﬁts when the movements and behaviors of slaves are controlled and dictated by slave overseers and night patrols?
6. Who beneﬁts when slave masters rape their slave women at their leisure and command?
7.Who beneﬁts when the slaves’ marriages have no real meaning and their children can be separated and sold by the slave masters?
8. Who beneﬁts when slave masters use whips to lash the backs of slaves and lynch them from trees, leaving their hanging bodies as a lesson and warning to the others of what will happen to them if they disobey the power and authority of the slave masters?
9. Who beneﬁts when the slave masters die and their slaves become the intergenerational inheritance property of the slave masters’ children and grandchildren?
You know the answers to the 9 questions above. The totality of those beneﬁts, speciﬁcally and directly, went to the plantation slave masters and their families. Then and now, those beneﬁts of accumulated intergenerational wealth and political power are the beneﬁts of the White race in America.
Our African American History: Distortion and whitewashing
I have to admit, I had some difﬁculty of trying to ﬁgure out why DeSantis, a candidate for president, and given the numerous legitimate problems and needs of the American people, would so aggressively focus on African American history. For some reason, he chose not to focus on the history of any of the other races and colors, including Hispanic History, Asian History, etc. I also wondered why:
• None of the other Republican governors focused on African American history as an issue.
• None of the other Republican candidates for president focused on African American history as an issue.
DeSantis singularly and directly focused his campaign of distortion and whitewashing on African American history. He began with Advanced Placement (AP) courses in African American History. Then, he went on to a campaign of controlling and dictating his preferred version of African American history in the schools’ curriculum, courses, teaching and learning. He then activated a campaign of censoring books that did not include and or agree with his preferred version of African American history.
I found it amazing and insulting that no faculty unions confronted and opposed him. No one spoke up about academic freedom. Is their silence complicity?
Reaching back with my aging and slower functioning memory, it finally came to me this morning: I know the movement, era and conditions wherein that same old scam was played on the American people. It was the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Using my computer to access the Internet, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, provided me with this information about the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC): The United Daughters of the Confederacy is an American neo-Confederate hereditary association for female descendants of Confederate Civil War soldiers engaging in the commemoration of these ancestors, the funding of monuments to them, and the promotion of the pseudohistorical Lost Cause ideology and corresponding white supremacy.
Established in Nashville, Tenn. in 1894, the group venerated the Ku Klux Klan during the first half of the 20th century and funded the construction of a monument to the Klan in 1926. According to the Institute for Southern Studies, the UDC elevated the Klan to a nearly mythical status.
DeSantis, desperate, has coopted the old scam of the UDC. We, as African Americans, must rise up with our voting power and determination to protect our democracy and vote to re-elect President Biden and Vice President Harris. No excuse, just get it done. Our clock of destiny is ticking. It is late. Get up and get going.