I applaud the parents who are confronting school board members and passionately expressing their opposition to Critical Race Theory being taught to their children. They have reason to be angry for elementary school children are being taught that it is their race and skin color that defines them, categorizes them, and determines their destiny in the evil and racist American system.
It is not enough, however, to merely be “against” Critical Race Theory. We must present proactive, alternative truths that we are "for." Here are five explosive, alternative truths that will undermine and demolish the teachings of CRT and the 1619 Project. These five truths are:
1) Slavery was not unique to America.
2) Moral outrage erupted against slavery in colonial America.
3) America's founders turned against slavery.
4) America's founding documents are colorblind.
5) Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be opposed to Critical Race Theory.
Slavery Was Not Unique to America
Propnents of CRT would have us think that slavery was unique to America. The truth is that slavery has been practiced by peoples and civilizations for all of recorded history. Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Hittites, Greeks, Persians, Armenians, Arabs, and many others have practiced slavery.
During its 400-year reign, the Turkish Ottoman Empire enslaved millions of Europeans. Decades after the Emancipation Proclamation in America, white slaves were still being bought and sold in the Islamic Ottoman Empire.
This is why Dr. Walter E. Williams, late Professor of Economics at George Mason University, wrote that slavery was, “by no means peculiar, odd, unusual, or unique to the U.S.” He pointed out that at the beginning of the 19th century,
An estimated three-quarters of all people alive were trapped in bondage against their will either in some form of slavery or serfdom.
Williams said that what was strange and unique about slavery in America was the “moral outrage” that arose against it. The late historians, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene Genovese, agreed, saying,
Europeans [and Americans] did not outdo others in enslaving people or treating slaves viciously. They outdid others by creating a Christian civilization that eventually stirred moral condemnation of slavery and roused mass movements against it (Hyatt, Abolitionist Founding Fathers, 8).
Moral Outrage Erupted Against Slavery in Colonial America
A great, spiritual awakening, beginning in 1726, morally transformed Colonial America. This Christian revival breached racial and cultural barriers, ignited an abolition movement, and paved the way for the formation of the United States of America. It also unleashed the moral outrage that brought about the end of slavery on the American continent.
Early preachers of this Awakening, such as George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, William Davies, reached out to blacks, both slave and free, and saw them respond en masse to the Gospel message. Their message had a levelling effect on American society for they preached that all are the same in the sight of God. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and all stand in need of a Savior—and that Savior is Jesus Christ.
As a result of their preaching and compassionate outreach to blacks, racial and cultural barriers were breached in colonial America. Blacks and whites worshipped together, and black preachers and black churches began arising throughout the land.
For example, while a slave on the Stokeley Sturgis plantation in Delaware, Richard Allen was powerfully impacted by the abolitionist Methodist preacher, Freeborn Garrettson, who preached to both slaves and the Sturgis family. Not only did many slaves respond to Garrettson’s Gospel message, but he was able to convince Sturgis that slavery is a sin.
Sturgis immediately began making arrangements for his slaves to obtain their freedom. Allen obtained his freedom and went forth preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ and became a very successful evangelist to both black and white audiences.
In 1784, he preached for several weeks in Radnor, Pennsylvania, to a mostly white audience, and he recalled hearing it said, “This man must be a man of God; I have never heard such preaching before” (Hyatt, 1726: TheYear that Defined America, 95-96).
Although the preaching of the first-generation Awakening preachers was evangelistic in nature, second generation Awakening preachers took their message to its logical conclusion. If all are equal in creation, and all have sinned and stand in need of a Savior, and Jesus died equally for all, how can slavery ever be justified? They, therefore, began to vehemently attack the institution of slavery.
Samuel Hopkins (1721–1803), for example, who had been personally tutored by Edwards, pastored for a time in Newport, Rhode Island, an important hub in the transatlantic slave trade. He was outraged by the "violation of God’s will” he observed in Newport. He declared, “This whole country have their hands full of blood this day” (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 92).
In 1774, after the First Continental Congress had convened in Philadelphia, Hopkins sent a pamphlet to every member of the Congress, asking how they could complain about “enslavement” to England and overlook the “enslavement” of so many blacks in the Colonies.
The abolition message caught fire and was heard throughout the land. Evangelists, such as Samuel Cooke, Freeborn Garrettson, James O'Kelly and others, labored incessantly for both the salvation of souls and the abolition of slavery. In a sermon preached and published in 1770, Cooke declared that by tolerating the evil of slavery, “We, the patrons of liberty, have dishonored the Christian name, and degraded human nature nearly to a level with the beasts that perish.”
The Baptist preacher, John Allen, was even more direct, and thundered,
Blush ye pretended votaries of freedom! ye trifling Patriots! who are making a vain parade of being advocates for the liberties of mankind, who are thus making a mockery of your profession by trampling on the sacred natural rights and privileges of Africans (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 94).
This abolition movement gained momentum and eventually impacted all of colonial America, including America’s founding fathers.
Turned Against Slavery
By the time of the writing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the Constitution in 1787, virtually every American founder, even those who owned slaves, had taken a public stand against slavery. What makes this particularly amazing is the fact that this was happening at a time when slavery was accepted and practiced in most of the world. Dr. Thomas Sowell, who happens to black, has said,
Slavery was just not an issue, not even among intellectuals, much less among political leaders, until the 18th century–and then it was an issue only in Western civilization. Among those who turned against slavery in the 18th century were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and other American leaders. You could research all of the 18th century Africa or Asia or the Middle East without finding any comparable rejection of slavery there (Hyatt, 1726: TheYear that Defined America, 90).
Dr. Benjamin Rush, a Philadelphia physician, member of the Continental Congress, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was a vocal opponent of slavery. He helped found the first American abolition society in his hometown. He called slavery a “hydra sin” and called on the pastors and ministers of America to take a public stand against it (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 100-101).
Benjamin Franklin liberated his two slaves in 1785 and began advocating for abolition. He joined the abolition society of Philadelphia and later served as its president. In a public address to this society, Franklin called slavery, “an atrocious debasement of human nature” and “a source of serious evils.”
George Washington was born in Virginia into a slave-owning family but came to abhor slavery as did most other founders. In a letter to Robert Morris, dated April 12, 1786, he said, “There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery.”
Washington set up a compassionate program to disentangle Mt. Vernon from the institution of slavery. Those slaves who wanted to leave were free to do so. Those who chose to remain were paid wages, and he began a program to educate and prepare the children of slaves for freedom. In a conversation with John Bernard concerning abolition, Washington declared,
Not only do I pray for it, on the score of human dignity, but I can clearly foresee that nothing but the rooting out of slavery can perpetuate the existence of our union by consolidating it in a common bond of principle (Hyatt, Abolitionist Founding Fathers, 43).
Thomas Jefferson called slavery a “moral depravity” and “hideous blot" and said it presented the greatest threat to the future survival of America. James Madison, America’s 4th president, called slavery "the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man."
By the time of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the U.S. Constitution of 1787 virtually every founder had come to agree with John Adams who declared,
Every measure of prudence ought to be assumed for the eventual total extirpation of slavery from the United States . . . I have throughout my whole life held the practice of slavery in abhorrence (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 101).
America’s Founding Documents are Colorblind
Because America’s Founders turned against slavery, there are no classifications based on race or skin color in America’s founding documents. Neither is there any mention of slaves or slavery. The language was purposeful for James Madison, the chief architect of the Constitution, said, “The Convention thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men."
Nothing in either the Declaration of Independence or the United States Constitution indicates that the freedoms guaranteed do not apply to every individual. America’s founding documents are, indeed, colorblind even if her history has not been.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968) understood this and in his stirring, I Have a Dream speech, he challenged America, not to dispense with her founding documents, but instead, to live up to them. Speaking from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he declared,
When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Then quoting from the Declaration of Independence, he proclaimed,
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.
Frederick Douglas (1818–1895), the former slave and famous abolitionist, understood the colorblind nature of the founding documents and argued that their language must be understood as applying to everyone. “Anyone of these provisions in the hands of abolition statesmen, and backed by a right moral sentiment,” he declared, “would put an end to slavery in America.”
CRT propnents insist that America is racist and founded on racist principles. They are wrong. David Azerrad was correct when he said, “The argument that the Constitution is racist suffers from one fatal flaw: the concept of race does not exist in the Constitution” (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 127-28).
There are racists in America, but America itself is not racist. America’s founding documents are colorblind and at the time of her founding she was at the forefront of the fight to end slavery.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Would Be
Adamantly Opposed to Critical Race Theory
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be opposed to Critical Race Theory on three major points.
1. He envisioned a colorblind society in which people would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. He made this clear in his “I Have a Dream Speech” when he said he looked forward to a time when his four children would live in a nation where “they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” CRT propnents, on the other hand, judge everything and everybody by race and skin color.
2. He believed in America and writing from the Birmingham City Jail referred to America’s “sacred heritage.” Dr. King was very aware of America’s flawed and sinful history, but he also saw that there was something sacred, holy, and of God in her founding. In this same letter he speaks with pride and respect of the Pilgrims, Thomas Jefferson, the ‘majestic” Declaration of Independence, and Abraham Lincoln. CRT proponents, on the other hand, insist that America is evil and corrupt and must be dismantled and replaced with a socialist/Marxist state.
3. He was adamantly opposed to communism and Marxism. He expressed this many times and would not allow avowed communists to have any public role in the 1963 March on Washington that he led. CRT, on the other hand, is based on Marxism and its founders are avowed Marxists.
Dr. King believed that southern segregation of the 1960s was out of character with America’s founding and represented a falling away from her founding principles. In his iconic I Have a Dream speech, he clearly rooted his dream for racial equality in the original dream of America’s founders, declaring, “I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”