Re-membering Slavery in the Arkansas Legislature

Mike Carter of Arkansasbusiness.com reports that the Arkansas House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs rejected a standard symbolic resolution congratulating Barack Obama on his historic victory this morning. By a vote of 11-6, the committee failed to recommend HR1003 by Rep. Stephanie Flowers, D-Pine Bluff…after some Republican law makers (Rep. Dan Greenburg, R-Little Rock, and Rep. Ed Garner, R-Maumelle) took issue with language describing “the United States as a nation founded by slaveowners.”

"The Old South"--a depiction of freemen in northwest Arkansas.


The debate centered on competing historical viewpoints. Flowers argued that the language was not meant to be offensive, and that anyone who found it so didn’t have a clear understanding of the history of the nation and the role slavery played.

Greenburg and Garner countered that while slavery was a terrible part of the country’s history, to suggest that all the founding fathers were slaveowners and that the country was founded on the institution of slavery, while ignoring those who fought slavery from the beginning, was not accurate and potentially divisive.

As both a Southerner and historian I think there is no denying that most of the Founding Fathers were, in fact, slave holders and that this great nation was founded and built using a large amount of slave labor…The struggle over slavery’s memory has been almost as intense as the struggle over slavery itself. If you’d like to check out the trajectory of “re-membering slavery” check out “Slavery as Memory and History” by Ira Berlin on the Library of Congress website.

Capitol Round-up: Resolution Congratulating Obama Rejected in Committee

This would be a great example of why we need to continue to teach Arkansas history in public schools.

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Categories: history, post

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