“Slavery Walks” Will Stir Up Resentment

AR News Exclusive, Sep. 28

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Stephen Webster, New Century Foundation, (703) 716-0900

On Wednesday (Sept. 29), black “masters” will escort white “slaves” wearing chains and yokes through the streets of Annapolis. Lifeline Expedition, sponsor of the “Slavery Walk,” says it will bring racial reconciliation and educate Americans about slavery. It will do neither.

Americans are already well aware of slavery. All widely-used history books discuss it thoroughly.

As education expert Sheldon M. Stern wrote in 2003, “Today’s students can readily identify Sacajawea and Harriet Tubman but often can barely discuss Washington or Jefferson—except as slave owners.”

In 2001 and 2002, at least 50 slavery museums were built in the United States.

If Lifeline Expedition wanted to educate Americans about slavery, it would emphasize little-known aspects of slavery rather than those that are well known:

* Slavery was a well-entrenched institution in Africa long before Europeans arrived.

* America’s black slaves were first enslaved by Africans, who sold their property to European slave traders.

* Europeans abolished slavery in Africa in the 19th century. African slave-owners resisted abolition, and slavery persists in Africa to this day.

* According to UNICEF, human trafficking is the third most lucrative trade in West Africa, after guns and drugs.

* Arabs first went to Africa on slaving expeditions in the 7th century, and imported many more slaves than the United States did.

“Slave walks” will not reconcile the races. They will perpetuate the view that whites have a unique historical responsibility for trafficking in human beings.

“Slave walks” will encourage blacks to nurse grievances against whites, and will annoy whites who are tired of being blamed for events of more than a century ago.

Lifeline Expedition plans more walks this fall for Baltimore, New York, Boston, and Richmond. The New Century Foundation urges the cities that have agreed to hold these walks to cancel them.

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