What is Slavery ..... for children

Joined
Sep 17, 2011
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mo
It's an uncomfortable subject. Many folks are incapable of discussing the subject without getting emotionally invested, or charged. Like plenty of other subjects, this brings out the virtue signals, & personal attacks. Lots of folks don't want to have an honest discussion, & plenty of other folks, don't want to subject themselves to such attacks.

It's a discussion tactic that has shown to be very successful. The way to dispel, or discredit an uncomfortable truth, is to claim the higher moral ground. Most of the time, this allows the messenger to be discredited for being immoral ie: racist/white supremacist. Regardless of whether or not, their position/statement is historically accurate.

Sadly, many folks don't want to hear the truth. Instead, they prefer what makes them feel good, or what helps them to achieve their personal, or political goals. Follow enough of these discussions, & you'll see plenty of evidence to back up my assertions.
Slavery in our historical presentations has become somewhat a national distraction tactic.........in world history its often a footnote, it used to be in US history......because often, in reality it is/was a footnote to a primary subject...
 

Georgia

Sergeant
It's an uncomfortable subject. Many folks are incapable of discussing the subject without getting emotionally invested, or charged. Like plenty of other subjects, this brings out the virtue signals, & personal attacks. Lots of folks don't want to have an honest discussion, & plenty of other folks, don't want to subject themselves to such attacks.

It's a discussion tactic that has shown to be very successful. The way to dispel, or discredit an uncomfortable truth, is to claim the higher moral ground. Most of the time, this allows the messenger to be discredited for being immoral ie: racist/white supremacist. Regardless of whether or not, their position/statement is historically accurate.

Sadly, many folks don't want to hear the truth. Instead, they prefer what makes them feel good, or what helps them to achieve their personal, or political goals. Follow enough of these discussions, & you'll see plenty of evidence to back up my assertions.
I understand already. It’s very sad, but true.
 

Georgia

Sergeant
Not sure how. How exactly has the presentation of world history been a horrible disservice? If you think slavery in every civilization needs to be as big a talking point as it has become in ours..........there will be little time for anything but history classes, which would seem rather absurd.

I would think that simply shows it has become over presented in ours.
I’m noticing a current trend of educators ( those who are the ones who choose the concepts included within the curriculum) to purposefully not discuss the horrors which a large portion of our fellow Americans endured. By not discussing and bringing to light the injustices this portion of our country suffered, it’s as if the public is saying it’s not worth discussing. And, transitively, that this section of citizens are not worthy of discussion.
By having a clear and truthful dialogue of what went on during that time in our country’s history we would then be able to face what everyone is trying to hide. Through such dialogues, and by discussing the wrongs, hopefully we can begin in earnest to heal and create the equality our country was founded upon. We say we are trying to move forward, but until we all admit in the classrooms and educate our children honestly what happened, the mistruths will be perpetuated, and the subject will forever be a taboo. And, in this way, those who are descendants of the enslaved are not addressed and no one speaks of what their family members had to endure and it continues to be a subject that isn’t seen worthy of being talked about. In this lack of being able to tell their story, they are then belittled in yet another way and in another time.
We cannot fully begin to heal as a country and demand equality for all until everyone who is a part of our country is viewed as an equal and as a fellow American.
If those who fought during the Civil War were not talked about- how would that make you feel? If their service was talked in hushed tones and was labeled using words which were hurtful, would that make you feel like you really were a part of the country?

By discussing and by giving all eras of our country’s history equal time and equal attention and equal honesty- it goes a great way to also create an equal understanding and to heal wounds left from any era of our history where there has been great divides in our country.
I firmly believe that until we reach this point as a country, we won’t be able to heal and move forward as a united people.

That’s why I feel so adamantly about the curriculum being taught or conversely, not being taught, in our classrooms. I can’t help but wonder if a lot of the issues concerning monument removals and talks of the renaming of Military installations and frustration by the public might be lessened if there had been a true dialogue and education of our country’s history well before now.
 
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mo
I disagree, it should only be presented where it's a relevent subject, and even then it should not hijack the focus from the primary subject.

I have visited many historic homes and farms both north and south. Most often because they were owned by famous people, and by going I'm wanting to learn more about the famous people. As a modern farmer that's the 5th generation on the farm, I also have an interest in the history and past agricultural practices.

In both cases the help, whether hired or slave is a footnote to the primary focus of what I was interested in learning about.

It's odd in the northern presentations, they might mention the house had a staff of "x" people.....or the farm employed "x" people....but then they don't dwell on the "x" staff people, as they correctly know it's not the primary focus or reason people are taking the tour, it's a footnote. There is no need to lurch into a history of hired labor practices in the US......

I have attended specific plantation slavery tours were slavery was the focus, because I was interested.......but it shouldn't be a major part of the general history tour or even one of the agricultural processes.

That's what I meant by a national distraction, if it's being used to switch the focus to slavery itself, rather then the famous owner or the business itself, that's what it is, a distraction from the primary subjects. I shouldn't have to start bombarding the guide with questions about Andrew Jackson for example, to get the focus back to the primary subject.......

Because what makes Hermitage unique and noteworthy isn't slavery, thousands of plantations and farms had it, but actually Andrew Jackson.
 
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Georgia

Sergeant
I disagree, it should only be presented where it's a relevent subject, and even then it should not hijack the focus from the primary subject.

I have visited many historic homes and farms both north and south. Most often because they were owned by famous people, and by going I'm wanting to learn more about the famous people. As a modern farmer that's the 5th generation on the farm, I also have an interest in the history and past agricultural practices.

In both cases the help, whether hired or slave is a footnote to the primary focus of what I was interested in learning about.

It's odd in the northern presentations, they might mention the house had a staff of "x" people.....or the farm employed "x" people....but then they don't dwell on the "x" staff people, as they correctly know it's not the primary focus or reason people are taking the tour, it's a footnote.

I have attended specific plantation slavery tours were slavery was the focus, because I was interested.......but it shouldn't be a major part of the general history tour or even one of the agricultural processes.

That's what I meant by a national distraction, if it's being used to switch the focus to slavery itself, rather then the famous owner or the business itself, that's what it is, a distraction from the primary subjects. I shouldn't have to start bombarding the guide with questions about Andrew Jackson for example, to get the focus back to the primary subject.......
I’m familiar with what you are saying as prior to the pandemic, I was an active docent at a plantation.
Sorry if I wasn’t clear, I meant teaching as in classroom teaching through History courses. For example, Maryland has an incredible history of being a very old colony, Religious allowances kept flipping back and forth both for and against the Catholic Church, there’s the war of 1812, the Underground Railroad, Antietam, the battle of South Mountain, being a border state, etc and the list goes on and on as to the available history just outside a classroom door.
In my mind, it’s an incredibly rich state of history and subject matter which should be shared in the classroom.
So, I don’t view the classroom instruction including the explanation of enslavement as hijacking the story of the Maryland colony. I see enslavement as a portion of the story of the Maryland colony.

Now, when one visits historic locations, that’s a completely different situation. Most historic locations tend to find a time or era to represent- most likely the time of its most famous owner. This may or may not coincide with enslavement as it would be depending upon the era. But, say, at Mount Vernon or Monticello ( should say I haven’t been to Monticello in some years now so the teachings could have easily changed) the story of the entire plantation operation was equally shared. There are enslaved cottages - Mullberry Row which are also open for tours and interpretation as It was also found in various homes in Williamsburg. You visited the George Wythe home and then, in their kitchen, you were able to learn from a docent/reenactor of color, about the hearth cooking and what a typical day would have been like for them.

So, I haven’t ever really felt as though any of the historic locations were forcing anything upon those visiting that didn’t mesh with the time they were portraying. The only time I was part of a tour which was uncomfortable to me was during our visit to Poplar Forrest in the mid 1990’s. The home had fairly recently been saved as a historic location and work was being done to the house structure. The plaster had been removed so necessary brick work could be done. It was fascinating to us to see the locations within the brick walls where the wooden scaffolding had held the workers and how the fireplaces were built. You could understand the depth of the window sills and how well the homes from this era were insulated due to the handmade brick. There was a couple who were part of our tour group who, at the end of the tour, requested their money back because a the house wasn’t “all fixed up.” So, what we saw as incredibly interesting and not something normally seen another group found problematic. Like you, we have specific interests in areas- we enjoy home restoration. So, to get behind the walls was very fascinating. Now, I’d never complain within a tour of a restored home that there weren’t areas visible to see the inner workings of the corner fireplace, etc. So, it really perplexed me that someone would actually request their money returned because the home wasn’t decked out in the finery they had expected. Restoration is like science, it takes a lot of time. And, if those folks wanted to see finery then perhaps Monticello would’ve served them better. But, you don’t show up to a newly acquired historic location which is actively doing archeological excavations in the yard and expect to see silk draperies. You know?

Many of the historic locations are trying to meet the call to bring in the story of the enslaved if they were a part of the properties’ history. And, most were part of the history, as the enslaved were responsible for generating the crops which brought in the revenue for all the fineries seen in the main house.

As an aside, if you have some time, look into Sidney George Fisher (Attorney, Gentleman farmer from Philadelphia but who owned a lovely home in Cecil County, MD.)
He was very interested in agricultural practices and the science of the day (this would’ve been around the 1840’s onward until his passing) and I believe he was responsible for bringing the concept of modern fertilization to the eastern shore of Maryland. There are reprinted booklets of his talks which were given at Farming conventions on fertilizer and grape production among others. Also, his diary is one which has been called the Northern equal to Mary Boykin Chestnut’s diary and it called a Philadelphia Perspective. His birthday and death dates are 1809 to 1871, I believe - so, that will give you an idea of his era. You might enjoy checking him out because of your family’s and your agricultural experience and interests.

But, back to historic home tours, it seems to depend upon the historic location itself and what those who run the property and what they choose to represent within the tours.
As you mentioned Andrew Jackson ( guessing you were visiting the Hermitage?) I just looked at their website and found they show a section on the enslaved and state online that the enslaved were responsible for Jackson’s wealth and by the time he passed away in 1845 he had at least 150 enslaved workers on the 1,000 acre plantation there.

Some locations will have different tours for different subjects. So, there could be the house tour, the grounds/garden tour, the enslaved tour and tied into that the agricultural tour. But, if you only going to have a general tour to introduce the public to historic homes of eras prior to 1865, there will most likely be mention of the enslaved. It would be unconscionable not to mention the enslaved in some portion of a general home tour as you would be leaving out a portion of the locations history. And, the amount of discussion within the tour would ultimately be up to the discretion of the location and the docent. If the tour was supposed to be only a discussion of Andrew Jackson, well- then, I could understand your frustrations of subject matter that was not about him, solely.

I think it all comes down to how you choose to view the subject matter at hand. You could discuss Andrew Jackson as a military man, a President of the United States and possibly not discuss issue which you feel might take away from the “primary source” of Mr. Jackson.

But, if you’re visiting his plantation home, I don’t see any loss by discussing the entirety of the plantation- of which, the enslaved were present and after all they were the ones which created his wealth and it also was the enslaved who made the actual bricks used to build the Hermitage.

I’m hoping maybe I explained things more clearly on this post. Maybe? I was discussing the school classroom earlier. But, I’m glad you took the time to share your experiences and how you felt they infringed upon your visit to the Hermitage. As docents, it’s important to read the interests of those on our tours and balance the information we are to give to create a complete story of the location. However, we also should address specifics of the interests of those taking the tour to make sure their visit is an enjoyable one.
 
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Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
It's not just the hermitige, but most any historical site nowadays.

In non slave historic sites, there is little focus on the labor force as it's secondary to the story...in all honesty slavery is just as secondary, as it's just the labor practices of the period as well.

I've gotten to the point I'd like to ask how was slavery different here then any other plantation/home/farm?.....and if it isn't, why are we wasting time on it.......as I have already heard slavery 101 at 100 different sites...........fortunately most guides/docents will take hints from more subtle questions to direct the tour to your interests.

Slavery 101 was in high school, its in the media, whether movies/documentaries/ or print, I cant imagine there is any significant portion of the population unaware of it.....its rather wasting time repeating ad nauseam what everyone already knows. Its as pointless as if at every site they wished to waste 15 minutes on the site originally belonged to the natives..........yes we already knew that too........so unless it has some unique or special aspect, what else?.....perhaps waste a portion of the tour on the sky being blue?

Using the Hermitage as an example again.......he was a war hero,a duelist, on the Tn supreme court, in regional politics, President of the United States.....would think a 2 hour tour would be hard pressed to adequately cover his career and life, not to mention with his family and personal effects interjected into a tour of his home and property. So wouldn't see much reason to distract from it.
 
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Viper21

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Many of the historic locations are trying to meet the call to bring in the story of the enslaved if they were a part of the properties’ history. And, most were part of the history, as the enslaved were responsible for generating the crops which brought in the revenue for all the fineries seen in the main house.

As an aside, if you have some time, look into Sidney George Fisher (Attorney, Gentleman farmer from Philadelphia but who owned a lovely home in Cecil County, MD.)
He was very interested in agricultural practices and the science of the day (this would’ve been around the 1840’s onward until his passing) and I believe he was responsible for bringing the concept of modern fertilization to the eastern shore of Maryland. There are reprinted booklets of his talks which were given at Farming conventions on fertilizer and grape production among others. Also, his diary is one which has been called the Northern equal to Mary Boykin Chestnut’s diary and it called a Philadelphia Perspective. His birthday and death dates are 1809 to 1871, I believe - so, that will give you an idea of his era. You might enjoy checking him out because of your family’s and your agricultural experience and interests.

But, back to historic home tours, it seems to depend upon the historic location itself and what those who run the property and what they choose to represent within the tours.
Speaking of historic homes in Maryland..... I'm a lineal descendant of James Owens (Anne Arundel County).

https://mht.maryland.gov/nr/NRDetail.aspx?NRID=1001&FROM=NRMapAN.aspx
 

Georgia

Sergeant
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Georgia

Sergeant
@Viper21,

https://mht.maryland.gov/secure/medusa/PDF/AnneArundel/AA-247.pdf
I’ve attached the locations which were on the last MD home tour for Anne Arundel- sadly, I don’t see your ancestor’s home listed. I believe the home marked #3 is the closest to it on the map. ( That home is called Arden.)

783D53E6-413A-4890-9F49-9E570371F60D.jpeg
 

Georgia

Sergeant
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Georgia

Sergeant
It's not just the hermitige, but most any historical site nowadays.

In non slave historic sites, there is little focus on the labor force as it's secondary to the story...in all honesty slavery is just as secondary, as it's just the labor practices of the period as well.

I've gotten to the point I'd like to ask how was slavery different here then any other plantation/home/farm?.....and if it isn't, why are we wasting time on it.......as I have already heard slavery 101 at 100 different sites...........fortunately most guides/docents will take hints from more subtle questions to direct the tour to your interests.

Slavery 101 was in high school, its in the media, whether movies/documentaries/ or print, I cant imagine there is any significant portion of the population unaware of it.....its rather wasting time repeating ad nauseam what everyone already knows. Its as pointless as if at every site they wished to waste 15 minutes on the site originally belonged to the natives..........yes we already knew that too........so unless it has some unique or special aspect, what else?.....perhaps waste a portion of the tour on the sky being blue?

Using the Hermitage as an example again.......he was a war hero,a duelist, on the Tn supreme court, in regional politics, President of the United States.....would think a 2 hour tour would be hard pressed to adequately cover his career and life, not to mention with his family and personal effects interjected into a tour of his home and property. So wouldn't see much reason to distract from it.
Well, you’ve been educated on the topic both in the classroom and by visiting all the historic home sites. There are many who look at you blankly when you ask them if they know about slavery/the enslaved.
I promise you that. Scout’s honor. Some people don’t have the same interests and Never had the subject brought up in school so it’s the first time they’ve ever visited a historic home. I can usually tell as the husband’s eyes have glasses over by the time we get done with the intro and exterior architecture. As we are going in through the front door, I usually quietly walk over thank them for coming and tell them I can tell they’re raking in tons of brownie points for later. Our historic home was restored in the 1960’s- so I’ll ask if they like Mid century modern. Most will say yes. So, I tell them to hold it together until we hit the second floor as they’ll love the “Elvis and Liberace” bathrooms with the mirrors and sunken tubs. But, if that isn’t enough, telling them I’ll be taking them to walk on the roof of the house and the view is incredible usually perks them back up. Then, once I’ve got them back in a good mood, I finish the manor house tour by showing them the lavender kitchen and matching dog washing station on the first floor. By lavender kitchen, I mean the metal cabinets are lavender, the fridge is lavender, the stove is lavender, the tile for the dog wash is lavender....nobody can stay glum after seeing a purple refrigerator. It’s next to impossible.

We have added a new to us enslaved cabin based upon other tidewater locations along with a smoke house and the original detached kitchen. So, that’s really where the discussion of the enslaved takes place. The Amish come in with their teams and plants a couple of acres of tobacco and the drying barn is in the distance... then, they can walk the trails to see the prize house. Believe there’s only 3 left in the US. This was the location near the rolling road where barrels of tobacco were brought to be appraised by a person sent over by the King and the contents of the barrels would be pressed by the machinery to push as much tobacco into the hogsheads as possible. There had been a dwelling house for the British chap but all that is left is his well. (If the colonists hadn’t shipped King George hogsheads of tobacco laced with rocks from the fields to increase the weight for sale, we might not’ve had the crown start getting into our business.)

But, the slope and depth of the rolling road shows the use of it. And, the fact we have a “parking spot” for a clipper ship near the manor house ties in to explain how this was its own port for the region.
 

JerseyBart

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I agree with you in the resilience of children and their abilities to accept and process knowledge. I have gotten asked very thoughtful questions from some of the younger students who visit the plantation.
My personal issues with explaining about enslavement are that the children don’t arrive with a background in the subject and the teachers are not going to be instructing them on the subject. So, if all they get is my few words on the subject, I fear that’s a disservice to them. I’m merely portraying the indentured cook in the detached kitchen and the subject comes up because we discuss the Sugar triangle.
I find it’s critical that areas of our history are not glossed over or ever forgotten. And, I think it’s a travesty that the education system is not actively educating classes on the Civil War and specifically about enslavement. I realize it’s a subject that is uncomfortable. But, we need to set that aside and educate these students on their country’s history- as you stated, “warts and all.”

Concerning the nightmares- I think there are sadly enough for us all.
Not to rooty toot toot my own horn, but I do actively teach my students in 5th and 6th grade about the slavery both modern and ancient, worldwide and American...of course in a grade appropriate way. There should be no avoiding it if we're educating students as accurately as we can for their age level.
 

Georgia

Sergeant
Not to rooty toot toot my own horn, but I do actively teach my students in 5th and 6th grade about the slavery both modern and ancient, worldwide and American...of course in a grade appropriate way. There should be no avoiding it if we're educating students as accurately as we can for their age level.
You just keep right on playing that horn! That’s wonderful news and music to my ears.

May I ask if this is a public or a private school?
Just trying to determine if the curriculum would be something that could be expected to be found for the entire state or not -
 

JerseyBart

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You just keep right on playing that horn! That’s wonderful news and music to my ears.

May I ask if this is a public or a private school?
Just trying to determine if the curriculum would be something that could be expected to be found for the entire state or not -
Thanks Georgia. I tell my kids all the time that I will never knowingly mislead them and if I make a mistake, I will correct it I teach in a public school. 5th Grade in NJ usually covers exploration through reconstruction. 6th Grade covers Mesopotamia through Middle Ages.
 

Georgia

Sergeant
Even better news to learn it is a public school! I wish the Maryland school curriculum was equally as progressive as my experiences as a docent has shown me their curriculum is lacking in this area of instruction.
The teachers shake their heads no when I ask if they’ve covered enslavement prior to their field trip visit.
 

Georgia

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Thanks Georgia. I tell my kids all the time that I will never knowingly mislead them and if I make a mistake, I will correct it I teach in a public school. 5th Grade in NJ usually covers exploration through reconstruction. 6th Grade covers Mesopotamia through Middle Ages.
I’ve been known to tell the students visiting the plantation that there is always more to learn and that adults aren’t always right all the time.
I have a tea brick I pass around the room and let the students guess what it is. There’s a general current deliberation as to whether or not tea bricks were in the colonies or just part of the Tibetan tea trade and never reached our shores. When the data I could find was inconclusive, I contacted Williamsburg and the Historians there told me they didn’t believe tea bricks were part of colonial tea trade. So, I explain to the students that I still question this information because the tea bricks seem so portable and would have been more easily shipped than hogsheads of loose tea. And, the shipping cost would have been lower based upon how many tea bricks could fit within the same space a hogsheads would’ve taken up on a boat. So, in my mind, I could see that both loose and brick tea would have had a place depending on the person who was using it. I’ve done the currency conversion and at the last time I checked, the price of a pound of tea was right around $75.00 in today’s rates. So, I use this cost as another reason I could speculate that those who could afford to purchase tea might not have always been at home to enjoy it and to have a block might be easier to use. I ask them as they begin reading and learning about trade during this time to please contact the plantation and let me know if they read and learn something new about tea bricks. It’s very possible that they may read or discover more information that would be helpful in proving tea bricks could have been in the colonies.

I’m just trying to use this illustration to make sure the students know history isn’t always stagnant and there’s always more to learn about an era. And, I like to challenge them to dig deeper into whatever subjects they find that they enjoy the most because we need to always keep learning more and asking more questions and finding more answers.
 

Viper21

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@JerseyBart @Georgia For what it's worth, I went to public school in Virginia. Granted it was a few years ago but, in Elementary school, I went on several field trips to historical locations with the school. I can think of at least 2 Plantations we went to as a school group, Sully Plantation, & Mount Vernon. Slavery was discussed on these trips. I remember it vividly. I do realize much has changed since I was in school. For reference, I graduated high school in 1988.
 

Georgia

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@JerseyBart @Georgia For what it's worth, I went to public school in Virginia. Granted it was a few years ago but, in Elementary school, I went on several field trips to historical locations with the school. I can think of at least 2 Plantations we went to as a school group, Sully Plantation, & Mount Vernon. Slavery was discussed on these trips. I remember it vividly. I do realize much has changed since I was in school. For reference, I graduated high school in 1988.
There has been a great deal of change from when we were in school - (class if ‘86 here.) At least this has been my observation but that’s only from volunteering so please do take it with a grain of salt.

Since @JerseyBart is actively teaching and in the classroom, I’m thinking the best information may need to come from the current classroom climate.

But, to hear that it’s part of the curriculum of the New Jersey public school system gives me great hope that not all states are as lacking as what I’ve experienced.
 
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mo
@JerseyBart @Georgia For what it's worth, I went to public school in Virginia. Granted it was a few years ago but, in Elementary school, I went on several field trips to historical locations with the school. I can think of at least 2 Plantations we went to as a school group, Sully Plantation, & Mount Vernon. Slavery was discussed on these trips. I remember it vividly. I do realize much has changed since I was in school. For reference, I graduated high school in 1988.
I agree I went to elementary school in the 1970's and high school in the 80's and slavery was discussed in both, so it's a little puzzling to me when people act like it wasn't taught till recently.

Edit--would also note they also still showed GWTW on TV, in 1977 Roots was a huge mini series, and then in 85 North and the South was also......the civil war and slavery was hardly some secret in popular culture and media of the era.
 
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Georgia

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I agree I went to elementary school in the 1970's and high school in the 80's and slavery was discussed in both, so it's a little puzzling to me when people act like it wasn't taught till recently.
I was that same era of schooling, lived in Georgia, took AP History classes in high school and I was never taught about the Civil War nor the enslaved.
 
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