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Letter to the Editor: The story of slavery should be told
Letter To The Editor

From Diana Vance


To the editor:

By the beginning of the 19th century, enslaved labor had systematically both directly and indirectly turned the U.S. into one of the two top economic powers in the world. Later, despite the ravages of the Civil War, the capital and infrastructure extracted from the souls, sweat and blood of enslaved African Americans positioned a former backwater colony to navigate the Industrial Revolution. Slavery continued and in 1880 the U.S. began to supersede its older and more established rival, Great Britain.

If we gave the 250 years of U. S. slavery the same scholarly attention as European feudalism and the Industrial Revolution, we could talk with knowledge about the important accomplishments of slaves in our history. We could see that slavery was a critical factor in the economic growth of the United States and the rise of global capitalism.

This remarkable contribution by slaves was not taught and studied as an integral part of world economic history. In the history books we never saw that cotton produced by enslaved labor constituted 59% of our country’s exports. Slaves did this back breaking work but of course they were never rewarded. Instead they were pictured erroneously as simple people working and picking cotton that benefited inhumane families in the Mississippi Valley and the rest of the South.

The economic contribution of enslaved Americans did not begin and end with King cotton in the South.  In the North, 400 slave workers built the nation’s capitol. And the city of New York was built up from the ground with labor from slaves. Millions of enslaved black Americans were the boots and the straps of our economic system.

It is time to really look at the slavery of human beings as some of the worst oppression the human race has ever known. I think it is time to acknowledge this horrible part of black history and seriously think about reparation.

You know how people from other lands shaped and formed our country. They embraced it repetitively by our society’s story telling institutions. It is time for enslaved African Americans to claim their rightful place in that narrative.

The United States needs a national museum dedicated to slavery in America that will reveal in depth, the 250-year history of slavery in this country — its reality, it’s history, its economic impact and its music and song.