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2001-02-02

Remembering Slavery: Voices of America’s Slaves

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Today on the second day of African American History month, Attorney General John Ashcroft starts work as the nation’stop law enforcement official.

The ironies are strong. As Missouri Attorney General and Governor, Ashcroft was staunchly opposed to schooldesegregation ordered by federal courts in St. Louis and Kansas City, and even opposed a voluntary city-suburbdesegregation plan in St. Louis.

Two years ago, he gave the commencement address at Bob Jones University, which at the time banned inter-racial datingand other racially discriminatory policies.

In 1999, Ashcroft led a deceptive campaign to block the federal judicial nomination of Judge Ronnie White, the firstAfrican American judge on the Missouri State Supreme Court.

Ashcroft vigorously opposes anti-discrimination programs including any form of affirmative action. He voted to weakenthe Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a federal law that discourages banks from "redlining" minority areas in innercities.

In 1998, Ashcroft gave a long interview to Southern Partisan, white supremacist magazine. Southern Partisan hasoffered a T-shirt celebrating the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

In Ashcroft’s interview with the pro-confederacy publication, he praised Southern Partisan saying that it helps setthe record straight. "You’ve got a heritage of doing that, of defending Southern Patriots like [Robert E.] Lee, [Gen.Thomas J. (Stonewall)] Jackson and [Jefferson] Davis. Traditionalists must do more. I’ve got to do more. We’ve all gotto stand up and speak in this respect, or else we’ll be taught that these people were giving their lives, subscribingtheir sacred fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda."

The men Ashcroft called patriots were all strong defenders of slavery. In this, African American History month, welook at the real legacy of the confederacy and slavery, one of degradation, pain and a tragedy that spans centuries.

Tape:

  • Remembering Slavery, a book and cassette collection from the Smithsonian Institution and Library ofCongress.

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