The first bishop elected to the Episcopal Diocese of Texas was a slave owner who pushed for loyalty to the Confederacy during the Civil War. The first church in the diocese, Christ Episcopal Church in Matagorda, was built by slaves. Now, Texas Episcopalians are addressing the church's history of racism and slavery by dedicating $13 million to help heal the communities injured by it.
Was the Civil War fought over slavery or states' rights? People love to debate this question, and many seem to believe it's a matter of opinion.
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Despite The U.S. continues to wrestle with the romanticization of southern plantations, with people still planning weddings at enslavers' mansions and tourists complaining about slavery narratives on plantation tours. Yet the stark reality of our country's racial history stares us squarely in the face.
For nearly 250 years, black people were enslaved in the U.S.. Nearly half of the states in the country refused to outlaw slavery after our founding, and most of those states were willing to go to war to defend the "right" to own Africans and their descendants. Our country saw generation after generation of black families torn apart, spouses and children being sold off like cattle, black bodies beaten into submission, and black individuals being legally barred from liberty and opportunity.
It wasn't just a blip. American slavery, which evolved into an institution of white supremacy, existed for longer on U.S. soil than not at this point in our history. There are people alive today whose grandparents were slaves. We are not far removed from slavery, and certainly not removed from the generational impact of it.
WATCH: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ full opening statement on reparations at House hearing www.youtube.com
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he doesn't believe in reparations because "no one alive was responsible" for slavery. If you agree, keep reading.
It's a common argument whenever slavery or the history of racial injustice in America is brought up:
"Slavery ended 150 years ago. None of us alive today owned slaves or were slaves. Lots of people have been mistreated throughout history, but's that's the past. Time to move on."
Usually the folks saying it's time to move on are on the white side of American history—or at least not descendants of slaves in America. Folks on the white side of history tend to forget that black Americans' and white Americans' histories are not the same, our legacies are not the same, and the injustices our collective ancestors either inflicted or endured are not the same.
But we're all the same now, right? We all have the same legal rights on paper, so why keep looking to the past?