A Republican candidate for South Carolina governor has refused to apologize for her recent comments about the central role that slavery played in shaping the Civil War. Catherine Templeton‘s denial and ignorance about slavery in American history and its consequences on Black folks today are shockingly common.
Here’s the myth that Templeton told Bob Jones University students on Friday: The Confederacy fought the Civil War because “the federal government was trying to tell us how to live,” denying that the South fought mainly to keep slavery, according to the Associated Press. The labor lawyer was standing her ground and refusing to apologize for her erroneous statement or for defending her family’s participation in the war.
“She has said some terrible things already this campaign but to say that the federal intervention to end slavery, segregation & government sanctioned discrimination was wrong is utterly despicable,” South Carolina state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis responded on Twitter.
Much of the seemingly widespread ignorance among White southerners with roots that go back to the Confederacy stems from a failure of schools to teach the proper and contextual facts surrounding slavery and the Civil War. Just 8 percent of high school seniors were able to identify slavery as the main cause of the war, according to a new Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) study. Most of those surveyed didn’t know, for example, that a constitutional amendment formally ended slavery or that slavery was legal in all colonies during the American Revolutionary War.
“If we are to move past our racial differences, schools must do a better job of teaching American slavery and all the ways it continues to impact American society, including poverty rates, mass incarceration and education,” SPLC stated.