Gather Around Children and Let Me Tell You a Story
One of the nice things about Mr. Weeks’s decision to lodge a complaint about me with my school is that I ended up with an advanced copy of Entangled in Freedom. I am trying to make my way through it, but it has been incredibly difficult. It is much worse than I originally thought. In fact, the book is downright dangerous and has no place in a classroom that is dedicated to presenting young children with an accurate view of the past. Rather than try to put together a formal review, I’ve decided to share passages from the book. This first one takes place early on the book as Isaac is preparing to leave with his master (Abraham Green) for the war. In this scene Isaac is talking with an elderly white woman, Mrs. Jessica Fair, about the war and his place within it. The setting is 1862 and Isaac is the narrator:
So, I asked Mrs. Fair, “What advice do you have for me? I don’t want any trouble.”
“That’s a good question. Newton County [Georgia] has been training you for this day Isaac all your life. We in the county knew that slavery wasn’t going to last always. I want you to come back a leader. Help us rebuild this community. Leaders don’t wait until trouble comes; they strategize for years about how to withstand the worst of circumstances.” She looked at me to see if I understood what she was saying…. “When President Abraham Lincoln heard firsthand the intelligent words of Frederick Douglass, Lincoln realized that his world had already changed. We in the Deep South knew all the time that black people are cut from the same board of cloth as whites. That’s why Sally has been teaching all of your family to read and write, and why Abraham takes you to all of his business meetings. He has been training you how to conduct yourself. However; there are people from both the north and the south who still want to keep the slaves oppressed.”
Master Green interrupted and said, “I told Isaac. It’s because of the laws in the state of Georgia. That’s why I can’t set you free or I will go to jail…. [Mrs. Fair] “You make us proud in the war. Abraham might be a farmer. I believe in my heart of hearts that you will be a rich planter one day. You remember this old lady.” [pp. 27-29]
I can only imagine what I am in for as Isaac and his master go off to war together. The list of historical sources used for the book are included at the end and they are pretty much all online references. They include Kelly Barrow’s books, a video of Edward Smith discussing black Confederates, a Son of the South site as well as an SCV web page titled, “Black History Month: Black Confederate Heritage.” Surprisingly, they also include a reference to one of my posts on the upcoming Patrick Cleburne movie. I must assume that their bibliography reflects their understanding of the history of slavery, race relations and the Civil War itself and if this is the case these two authors understand very, very little.
I hope I won’t have to field additional complaints about how I’ve handled this situation. As far as I am concerned, to do so implies agreement with the historical basis of this story. Stay tuned for future installments.