Letter to the Editor, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, 7-22-21
Re: “New Job Fuels Old Arguments for District 51”: I haven’t read critical race theory, but I currently tutor a writing student in G.J. for a high school unit, “Writing Freedom: Words that Shaped a Nation.” My work, like her teachers, is to help her understand the complexity of the American Revolution. We’re reading the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Whitman and Dickinson. The passion for Enlightenment, for equality is so high — “We the people,” “… the continent indissoluble… divine magnetic lands… “O Democracy!” — still thrilling to read.
When she asks, why weren’t slaves or tribes or women mentioned? Why didn’t they have any rights? we examine the growing abolitionist movements in 1776 and 1787. We break down why the American colonies refused to relinquish slavery, which provided an economy that greatly financed the Revolution, and how black Americans heavily contributed to liberty not given to them.
We read Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s radical demand at the Seneca Convention in 1848 for something no country possessed: the women’s vote. A number of the women present objected, believing it impossible.
The sole mention of tribal people in the Declaration: “merciless Indian savages.”
We read how Thomas Jefferson attempted to include slavery in the Constitution, but even that paragraph — which blamed Britain for the colonies’ practice of slavery — was eliminated by committee. Jefferson also predicted, accurately, that white supremacy was the “rock upon which the old Union would split.”
We’ve also read Twelve Years A Slave, the horrific lives of humans treated legally as things rather than people, with no recourse. It makes us shudder.
These are drops in the ocean of the Revolution that quicken my student’s understanding the deeper truths of our complicated history. We’re a young country still working on a groundbreaking vision of equality, and we need our students to comprehend it, because they’re our leaders in the long journey ahead. I applaud District 51 for hiring a coordinator to help students who are struggling, and who deserve the best education for their future and ours.
Your letter to the editor this morning was just beautiful! You were able to quote the document that related to each concern and to also give some background information about when that concern was changed. Your letter was a history lesson for all those who have forgotten or maybe never knew how prolonged the efforts were to make needed changes. I believe the student you are working with is blessed to have your instruction and care.
Thank you for writing that letter and submitting it so we could all read it!