With the date of ratification so close to Pear Harbor, the ratification of the 13th Amendment often missed the "Top Stories" section on google news. Not seen as a national tragedy by some Americans compared to Pearl Harbor, the day where slavery officially became illegal in the entire United States went largely unnoticed. It's not a contest. Tragedy is tragedy.
As a teacher, however, I think the discussion of all critical events in the history of our nation is important. The NFL and CNN made sure everyone watching TV remembered the horrors of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. I also make sure my students know that slavery ended on a Wednesday just 150 years ago.
I often retell the story from my first year teaching about how somewhere around 80% of my black students had no idea slaves came from Africa. If there was one moment in my life as a teacher that I'll never forget, that'd be it. For high school teachers, it's critical we discuss slavery, not just because it provided the foundation for the United States and many other North and South American countries, but because it's not a major part of any history curricula in the state of Texas. World History has a brief mention of the transatlantic slave trade, but US history starts at reconstruction, government is only a semester long and just skims over it, and other classes may read a poem or two, but there's no in depth discussion unless you make it happen.
Slavery created a brand new culture by killing the old one that existed in those communities destroyed by Europeans and the Africans they gave guns, alcohol, and other goods in exchange for human beings. War was promoted as a means to provide a steady stream of labor because the people already living in the Americas were dying by the millions from diseases that the Europeans also brought with them.
We owe it to our kids to remember our complete past. The legacy of the slave trade can be seen and felt worldwide. Part of healing the wounds that have festered for centuries means acknowledging they exist.
Article I enjoyed on 13th Amendment ratification
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