White woman fights for Confederate-named park, saying slavery wasn't 'so bad'

Mimi Launder
Thursday 21 June 2018 08:30
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Everyone, gather round. A modern-day white woman has given her take on how it felt to be black slave. Rewrite your history books: it was not "so bad", apparently.

At a Cobb County meeting, resident Mary Stevens pleaded to honour Confederate General Joseph Johnston by naming a local park after him.

She also theorised that "had it been so bad for the freed slaves, they would have left the south" and, somehow, it just got more horrifying from there.

After reminiscing over the Confederate and Civil War relics destroyed in recent times, as one might mourn a bulldozed forest, Stevens argued that the Civil War "wasn't about slavery" - a disturbingly common myth, which one survey suggested is believed by up to 75 per cent of high school teachers, and incidentally also complete bulls**t, historian Jim Loewen told LiveScience.

Stevens also insisted that black people had worked in the Confederacy during the Civil War. African-American scholars - including Ervin Jordan, Joseph Reidy, Juliet Walker and Henry Louis Gates Jr. - acknowledge that a minority of blacks supported the Confederacy. But the total number makes up less than one per cent of the 800,000 black men of military age living in Confederate states , according to The Root.

Stevens is resting on a dangerous myth typically pedalled to atone for the sins of the Confederacy: that thousands - or even tens of thousands - of blacks fought for the south. Hand-in-hand come further falsehoods, such as a photograph deliberately distorted to show a group of black soldiers in Confederate service, according to historian Brooks Simpson. Simpson writes:

But there does appear to be a pattern of distortion, deception, and deceit in the use of these pieces of evidence to make a case for the presence of African Americans in the Confederate army as willing participants in fighting for the cause of southern independence.

Cobb County District 4 Commissioner Lisa Cupid, a black woman, spoke with remarkable calm after Stevens left her podium.

Cupid said she recognised people hold different sentiments around the park. But, she continued, narratives falsely portraying slavery are partly why there is desire for a neutral name. She continued:

I was deeply offended by some of the statements that were made this morning by the previous speaker. 

I'm not here to refute the fact that there may have been slaves other than persons who are African American.

But there is numerous documentation and historical evidence that the chattel slavery that blacks were subject to in America was not comparable to that of any other race.

And I also want to address the point that, had it been so bad for slaves, they would have left the south.

I found that statement also equally offensive. 

Watch Stevens' entire speech below:

More: Historian uncovers ads for runaway slaves in Britain, debunking the myth that slavery only happened abroad

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