“Chattel Slavery Made America Great!”: The Purging and Rewriting of Black History

Politicians not only want to purge Black history, but they want to rewrite it to make slavery and White supremacy sound beautiful.

Savannah Worley
Momentum
Published in
7 min readJul 23, 2023

--

A silhouette of a man against a hazy sundown sky. One of his wrists is chained down. He is holding up a lightbulb in his other hand and looking at it with an open mouth, as if he’s going to eat it.
Photo by Clement Eastwood on Pexels

During my freshman year of college, I was required to take a history class for my journalism major. I recall that U.S. History was one of the few classes with open slots. I was not excited — I was not looking forward to memorizing dates of when old white men declared wars and reading about how they committed genocide against Native Americans. But I reluctantly signed up for it.

The White professor I had was very energetic and loud, making it impossible to take naps like I used to do during history class in high school. I doodled most of the time, ignoring him. That was until one day when he said:

“A lot of people say slavery was bad, but I don’t think that’s so. Someone had to do the work.”

I stopped drawing. My eyes widened. My jaw dropped. I looked around the room and couldn’t help but notice I was one of about three Black students in the auditorium. In retrospect, I wish I had tracked them down after class and talked to them.

Interestingly, he didn’t ever mention race. I now know that was on purpose. Considering how various state governments, particularly Florida, are banning books that mention race and are changing teaching curricula so that they completely erase Black history, it seems my backward-thinking history professor was ahead of his time.

I wonder if my old history professor moved on to writing social studies textbooks in Florida. A Florida textbook publisher disallowed mentioning Rosa Parks was Black in one of their books because of the state’s Stop WOKE Act.

This is just a tiny example of the absurd yet ominous teaching curricula Florida is planning and other states might follow. This purging and rewriting of Black history isn’t just about making White people feel comfortable. It’s a means to gaslight the entire country so that citizens will bend to the will of conservatives and White supremacy.

The Florida Department of Education posted a document, part of which outlined the…

--

--

Savannah Worley
Momentum

Essayist who writes about social justice, racism, and mental health | she/her | Buy me a coffee: https://ko-fi.com/skworley