I’ve been thinking about A Birthday Cake For George Washington “written, illustrated, and edited by a diverse group of people of color, including editor Andrea Davis Pinkney, who is black and a winner of the Coretta Scott King Award.” The book was pulled by Scholastic in 2016 because “(a)lmost as soon as the book was released, it received withering criticism for whitewashing the history of slavery.”
One of the people who work at the Jefferson Library at Monticello is descended from five of the enslaved families of Monticello. He is proud of his heritage and is active in tracking down the oral history of those families.
A recent 60 Minutes featured a story about Fred Miller, a 56-year-old Air Force vet. He bought the Sharswood Plantation in Pittsylvania County, Virginia to host gatherings for his extended family in the area, only to discover that his great, great grandparents Violet and David Miller had been enslaved people on that plantation. “Buying this home has opened a window into the Miller family’s past that was not discussed within their family, and that many African American families struggle to obtain.”
To me, these three examples show that despite how reprehensible slavery was, people still managed to accomplish extraordinary things that their descendants are proud of. Should we denigrate or ignore those accomplishments because they were achieved by enslaved people? Is sharing that heritage to be dismissed as “Woke” because it does not follow the traditional narrative?