port of harlem magazine
nubia k essentials
Critical Race Theory and The Apostles of Forgetfulness
Nov 18 – Dec 1, 2021

nathan richardson

If this photograph strikes you as remarkable, it is because it represents a more complete context of American Civil War history. The image captured at Manassas National Battlefield Park, shows me, Nathan Richardson, engaged in a first-person portrayal of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass.  I, as Douglass, am talking with students about his role during the American Civil War and the emancipation of the enslaved Africans. Please take note that the monument of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson is still standing.

This is actually a picture of what Critical Race Theory is intended to look like, a narrative that tells a more complete story of American history. In the words of Frederick Douglass; “If America is false to her past and false to her present, she will solemnly be false to her future.”

Douglass was critical of the Lost Cause narrative because it totally dismissed the suffering of whole millions of men and women in bondage as well as the contributions they made to America in spite of their suffering. Douglass called those who white wash American history “The Apostles of Forgetfulness.”

The students pictured here are learning about the American Civil War in a fuller context. There is no value in excluding either of the historic figures in the image that help these children come to a complete understanding about how this great country was established. When we as adults serve our children a history that has not been properly preserved, we are in fact spoiling their future.  America is an interracial marriage that can’t be annulled and we are the offspring of a shotgun wedding. But we do have a choice in how to deal with our estrangement.

We can be like Cain and Abel, one brother who murdered his sibling over favor with God, or we can be like Jacob and Esau, twins who almost came to war over the favor of their parents Isaac and Rebekah. Jacob and Esau chose peace and reconciliation over war upon their revelation that family bond is more important than birthright.

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