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My question is based on the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. What is the...

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tita08 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 22, 2009 at 9:54 AM via web

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My question is based on the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. What is the legacy of slavery in the United States today?

 

In other words, what role (if any) does the history of slavery play in the way we see the world today.

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marilynn07 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted September 22, 2009 at 10:17 AM (Answer #1)

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The ongoing legacy of slavery might be seen as the unfinished American business. There is the concept of white guilt, and the unpaid "40 acres and a mule" promised by Abraham Lincoln to the freed slaves during the Emancipation Proclamation. There were the Jim Crow laws passed throughout the South to limit black participation in the political process.

One thing that is really never mentioned in the legacy of slavery is that whites were "indentured" for a time period of 7 years for the passage across the Atlantic to the New World. The idea that blacks could be held as chattel slaves was brought about primarily by the Spanish and English who held that blacks were inferior and basically not even human. The Dutch traders were the main source of slaves from Africa to the new world.

One thing that seems to be forgotten is that blacks and Arabs engaged in kidnapping and selling other blacks into slavery. It was white Christians who stopped the practice of slavery, first in England and finally in the United States. However, the emancipation proclamation did not completely finish the business between the white slave owner and the newly freed black slaves. That business continues on into the modern times in America. Black persons continue to strive to be equal in all aspects of life.

Today, an American President, Barak Obama, is of African descent. He is living proof that the stigma associated with being a black in America is something he has overcome. While his ancestor was not an American black, the idea that a black man has become president in a country that previously held black persons as 2nd class citizens is remarkable.

 

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