To the editor:
February was Black History Month and, for a clear understanding of our nation's history, we must acknowledge that blacks and whites have played pivotal roles in ensuring our freedom and liberty in America during the last 300 years.
That being said, every time the issue of race relations comes up in this country, it is followed up with the word slavery. Yes, slavery was a painful struggle for many of our citizens in our nation's early history, but it was not unique to America. Slavery, in fact, still exists today in some places around the globe.
It is likely many of our ancestors, at some point in time, were used by others against their will and some surrendered their freedom willingly to become indentured servants. Regardless, our ancestors, in their distinct American way, all had a part in building and sustaining these United States. Today, human abuse lives on in many ways as shown by drug trafficking, prostitution and children being abducted into slavery. Unfortunately, this evil practice of human trafficking has been one of mankind's greatest sins since the beginning of creation.
The long struggle to end slavery gave rise to some remarkable people who spoke out in an attempt to end slavery and racism. One of those people who stood large around the year 1800 was a brave, compassionate man named William Wilberforce. After failing for 26 years, he finally convinced the House of Parliament in England to ban the slave trade in England. Sixty-five years later, the slaves in America were emancipated at the end of our Civil War, which cost more than 800,000 lives. After the war, many blacks and whites who stood for freedom and liberty were persecuted and some were hung. One-hundred-and-three years after the Civil War, one such person, Martin Luther King Jr., was murdered because he stood up for freedom and human dignity.
The challenge today is for us to educate ourselves with facts rather than follow racist agitators, race baiters or politicians who pretend to stand for civil rights, when they really stand for their own influence and greed. We can continue on the current path or we can improve the future for all of our children and their children. We can be a better educated society by learning about recorded history and bringing down the walls that divide us. Education is the key and some excellent resources can be found in the following books: "American History in Black and White" by David Barton and "Capitol Men" by Philip Dray. In these books you will learn the facts about key issues and accomplished people including Wilberforce, Frederick Douglass, John Rock, President Abraham Lincoln and King, among others.
For additional references, check out the site: baic.house.gov, which will provide you with informational biographies on early black Americans in Congress. So whatever your racial identity, please take the time to learn how we have worked together in an incredible effort to form a more perfect Union.