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Smithsonian: Prof. Guasco on Roots of Slavery in North America

Michael Guasco
Michael Guasco

Smithsonian.com recently shared a column written by history Prof. Michael Guasco that argues for a re-examination of the roots of slavery in North America.

Guasco says that the widely held belief that slavery started in the new world in 1619 is more than simply inaccurate. The belief warps American self-understanding by oversimplifying the origin story of the United States of America.

According to Guasco, American culture has foisted disproportionate significance on that moment when approximately 20 slaves set foot in Jamestown. Yes, 1619 was significant but it was by no means Africans' first appearance in the New World.

And further: "Elevating 1619 has the unintended consequence of cementing in our minds that those very same Europeans who lived quite precipitously and very much on death's doorstep on the wisp of America were, in fact, already home. But, of course, they were not," Guasco writes.

Read Guasco's piece, originally published on Black Perspectives.