Linda Heywood and John Thornton: Obama Slave-Ancestry Report Misses MarkRoundup: Historians' Take
Linda Heywood, Ph.D., and John Thornton, Ph.D., are professors of history and African-American studies at Boston University.
(The Root) -- Monday's New York Times article on President Obama's roots in Southern slavery through his mother has reopened the contention that the first Africans brought to Virginia were indentured servants and not slaves. While some observers, such as writer Alondra Nelson, may contend that genealogy studies prove little beyond how closely all members of the human family are related, they are invaluable for understanding the greater past.
Yesterday's news was also about real historical events and the ability to bring the past alive. There was a real John Punch, real laws that defined his status in a racializing America and real descendants who made certain decisions in the evolving marketplace of American race relations. These past decisions have major implications about the way that contemporary Americans view themselves and fellow Americans.
That being said, the issue is a complicated one. As professors of history and African-American studies at Boston University, we have been unraveling the story of the first African arrivals in Virginia over the past decade, and despite suggestions to the contrary in the New York Times article, we can assert that Africans were not indentured servants as Europeans were....
HNN Special: Barack Obama's Slave Ancestor
On Other Websites
comments powered by Disqus
- Fake News and Fervent Nationalism Got a Senator Tarred as a Traitor During WWI
- Debunking Viral Story, Art Historian Says ‘Allah’ Does Not Appear on Ancient Viking Garment
- Will Trump Be Remembered as the Worst President in History? Almost Half Think So
- Thank This Man For Your Last-Minute Halloween Costume
- Letters from young Obama show a man trying to find his way
- Thomas Childers says we’ve got the Nazis wrong in 5 different ways
- National security expert Tom Nichols: “Hey, I’m unstable” is a bad look for the president
- Fake news? It’s nothing new, says Trinity College Dublin historian
- Historian discovers early Reformation writings “hiding in plain sight”
- Victor Davis Hanson says we shouldn’t be rushing to war with North Korea