February is here, which means that it’s Black History Month. Black history is an integral part of U.S. history, with African Americans making important contributions to the lifeblood of this country in all fields of endeavor. But there are many misconceptions and mischaracterizations when it comes to the public’s general understanding of black history. They say that the truth will make you free. Well, here at theGrio, we thought we’d kick off February the right way by debunking the 10 biggest myths about black history.
1. The Civil War was not fought over slavery
If you want to know whether the Civil War was fought over slavery, just read the words of Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederate States of America in 1861:
The prevailing ideas entertained by…most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically…. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error…Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition.
Most historians agree that slavery was one of the primary issues leading to the Civil War. South Carolina seceded from the Union because of the clash between slave states and free states over the expansion of slavery. The Republican Party, then a new political party, made the fight against slavery in U.S. territories a key issue.
Historical revisionists have tried to whitewash history and improve the image of the Old South by eliminating slavery from the mix. And groups such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans insist the war was fought over self-governance and states’ rights. The war was about states’ rights, the right of Southern states to own black people.