Slavery rejected in some, not all, states where on ballot: How did this happen?
Slavery should be removed from school textbooks in Arkansas, and probably Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, but not in California, Maine and the District of Columbia, says a leading historian of slavery who is writing a study of the subject for the University of California Press.
“In many places the history of slavery is still being written,” said Eric Foner of Columbia University. “I wonder if the reason it was in the past is that many people were willing to tolerate it for a long time, and that makes it less likely we’ll get a free, diverse society.”
Foner’s research appears in his forthcoming book on slavery titled, “Slavery in the New World”: A Multicultural Reader. Foner said that he will continue his research in Washington, D.C., and across the country, after his book is published next year.
“One problem is with the way the United States has been dealing with slavery,” he said, alluding to the debate over whether the federal government has a legal obligation under the Constitution to provide legal protection for all people of African descent who are citizens, whether they hold property, or whether they are black or white and so qualify as residents of a state.
“I think that there’s a sense that this is an individual issue, and it’s not as important as the social issue of equal rights,” he said. “Particularly with blacks and with American Indians, they’re a demographic group that we didn’t deal with in a deep, deep, long-term way until a very late period in history, and in many places they’re still a small percentage.”
Last fall, the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, held and co-sponsored a symposium on the history of slavery in the United States.
The symposium opened with a panel discussion on the legal status of African Americans in the United States, led by Charles McQuiston of the University of Virginia.
McQuiston, a prominent historian of slavery, said many states have laws that protect citizens even if they are African American. Many states and cities have passed ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of