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Let candor govern slavery museum's story, and its methods
Let's have complete candor from the officers of the National Slavery Museum

 The history of America is bound up with the history of slavery. Here, George Washington oversees slave labor on his Mount Vernon farm, in the painting 'Washington as a Farmer at Mount Vernon' by Junius Brutus Stearns. If Fredericksburg becomes the site of the National Slavery Museum, the story of the 'peculiar institution' should be fully and accurately told.
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 7/23/2005

T HE HISTORIC FACT that Americans once imported and owned African men, women, and children--buying and selling them as common property--is without doubt the greatest shame we carry as a nation. That Americans of any time could support such heartless and cruel treatment of their fellow human beings contradicts what we believe to be the divine sanction of our nation.

The institution of slavery mocks the concept of self-determination based on respect for the rights of individuals that forms the foundation of our country. But slavery was not only in direct conflict with our governmental principles; it is a sickening stain on our national conscience that we must find a way to cleanse.

Granted, progress has come. The institution of slavery has been legally eradicated. The descendents of Africa are no longer denied access to the voting process; the theater and bus seats, water fountains, and classrooms once reserved for those of European origin are now open to all.

Perhaps, if the story of slavery is properly and honestly presented, we Americans will finally be able to honestly deal with this issue without the artificial racial divisions which for generations prevented us from fully grasping the personal, human consequences of this terrible institution. Perhaps America has finally grown up enough to comprehend what a terrible thing we did.

We owe our grandchildren the true and factual story of slavery, well-presented and thoroughly documented.

As members of this American generation, we have the right to be interested in the manner in which this story is told. We have seen first-hand the effects of prejudice and stereotyping, and we know well the racial sensitivities that remain in our culture. As citizens of Fredericksburg, we also have the right to be concerned about the development of a museum that will represent our city to visitors from around the nation and the world. The quality, attitude, and message presented by the National Slavery Museum will directly reflect on this community. The impressions this museum makes will inevitably be linked to us.

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