Posted on September 12, 2012

America Will Never Rid the Shame of Being ‘Founded on the Back of Slaves’: Bob Dylan Says the Country Can’t Escape from Its Past

Daily Mail (London), September 12, 2012

Musician Bob Dylan claims America will never be able to rid the shame of being ‘founded on the back of slaves’.

The outspoken singer said the stigma of slavery has ruined America and he doubts the country will ever recover from it.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, he continued that the people of America are ‘at each other’s throats just because they are of a different color’.

He added that ‘it will hold any nation back’ and black people know that some whites ‘didn’t want to give up slavery’.
Dylan, 71, said: ‘If slavery had been given up in a more peaceful way, America would be far ahead today.’

Slavery was finally abolished in America in 1865 after years of conflict between the north and the south over the law.

Slave labour existed in America from an early colonial period and it was not until after the American Revolution, from 1775 to 1783, that all northern states in the country abolished slavery.

But the slave trade increased in the south after the expansion of the cotton industry in 1800 and southern businessman were determined to hold on to their cheap labour.

The international import or export of slaves became illegal under U.S. law in 1807 but by the 1850s the South was vigorously defending slavery.

In 1861 eleven slave states broke away to form the Confederate States of America, leading to the American Civil War, which ended in 1865 and the slaves were freed.

Great moves have been made towards equality since then but many agree there is still a long way to go.

When asked if President Barack Obama was helping to shift a change, Dylan says: ‘I don’t have any opinion on that. You have to change your heart if you want to change.’

President Obama – the most powerful man in America – is himself believed to be descended from slaves.

Genealogists even claim that DNA analysis and marriage and property records suggest that Obama is the 11th great-grandchild of John Punch, the first black slave living in colonial Virginia nearly four centuries ago.

While it was known that Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, had European ancestors, researchers discovered she also had at least this one African American forebear.

John Punch’s story stretches back to the mid-1600s; he was working as a servant when he escaped Virginia for Maryland in 1640.

Once there, he was captured and put on trial with two white servants who had also escaped, but he received the severest punishment and was condemned to servitude for life.

The sentence, which came years before Virginia set laws condoning slavery, has led historians to regard him as America’s first legally sanctioned slave.

Many of America’s public figures can trace their ancestry back to the period – with as many being descended from slavers and those on the side of the southern Confederacy as those descended from slaves.