re: learning the truth

Like many, I’ve watched the extraordinary Henry Louis Gates Jr/ PBS series on Reconstruction, the brief shining moment following the Civil War and before the black codes and Jim Crow reigned supreme.

You can see a great preview of it here:

Our history is devastating.

I thought I knew about slavery, abolition, the American Civil War, reconstruction. I though I understood “how far we’ve come.” I thought we’d collectively progressed, that all Americans had equal opportunity….

Last week, in a sixth grade classroom, 30 children put their hands on thier hearts and recited the Pledge of Allegiance, just as I’d done long ago.

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Most of the kids already knew that the “justice for all” part depends on who you are, what you look like, where you came from, what you and your family believe or practice.

Working on Trouble the Water was an extraordinary and eye-opening experience, and Robert Smalls has become a personal hero. I hope this book illuminates his character and his courage, and his remarkable contributions.

And I hope, I pray, that this book, and his story will open our eyes to our past, so that, in the future, those 6th grade kids at Robert Smalls International Academy and kids everywhere will be part of a far more perfect union.

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