This 350 page book does not pander to the "politics of guilt and pity," but relies on primary resource documents from the 18th and 19th centuries. The author also examines writings of the early church fathers, declarations of early church councils on the treatment of slaves, interpretations of the reformers on slavery, and statements of respected clergymen from the 18th and 19th centuries. In addition, he has drawn from the only professionally conducted interviews with ex-slaves, a WPA project known as the American Slave Narratives: The Federal Writers' Project of 1936-1938. The book makes the point that it is ludicrous to apologize (as several states have done recently) to a black population for legal slavery that occurred years ago when presently illegal slavery exists in at least 20 countries of the world including the USA. The book is divided into three parts: A. The Historical and Ecclestiastical View of Slavery; B. The True View of Slavery in the South; C. The Biblical View of Slavery. This is a book that should be read by every student of sociology, history, or theology. Dr. Roper's style is lively and never tiring. The book is sprinkled with poignant illustrations. It may be called many things, but never boring.
It is common for Southerners to revel in their heritage with great alacrity. We laud our culture, our food, our warm climate, and our famous hospitality. When it comes to celebrating out history, "New South" Southerners tend to be cautious. Too many Southerners fear "offending" with the display of a Confederate battle flag or any reminders of the Old South because their in-born sense of good manners and civility have been preyed upon by the unscrupulous. We cannot say too often that the victors of a war write the history. This was certainly the case after the "Late Unpleasantness." Our godly ancestors, the preponderance of whom with kindness and patience, prepared an African source of labor to find their place in Western Civilization, and ultimately the "American Dream," are now castigated and reviled. Considering non-slave holding Southerners, our venomous pundits have declared: "They were looking forward to the day when they could become slaveholders themselves." Alternately, it has been said,, "if they weren't slaveholders, they tolerated them, and even fought a war for a country that depended upon that source of labor." To these criticisms, the author says, in essence, "So what? The South did nothing wrong; a far greater temporal and eternal good was effected as a whole for those Negro slaves and their descendants who reached the American South. God makes no mistakes in His providential dealings with His creation. I shall not apologize, and here's why:"
We have not used the term "African American." The only African American we have known was our former neighbor, a college professor from Ethiopia who came from Africa as an adult and became a naturalized citizen. When we were children, we were taught that it was polite to say "colored" to describe members of the Negro race. That, now is taboo. In the 1960s and 1970s, "Afro-American" came into vogue. At this writing, it is stylish to say, "African-American." Who knows what word will evolve next? We are too old and set in our ways to feel at ease in using them and others have felt the same way. A great-granddaughter of Robert E. Lee said in her book, The Lee Family Cooking and Housekeeping Book:
" Words are powerful, but not all powerful. I believe it is the perceptions behind the words that need to change. While that is happening (and it is), new terms will continue to be coined in the effort to change those perceptions and will in their turn be dropped, if, and when they do not have the desired effect. The above terms came into my life too late for me to feel comfortable with them, so I have used whatever feels right in context, with no intention of disrespect" (Zimmer, 10).
The following pages are the result of fifteen years of assiduous research. They make it plain that white Southerners need not apologize for the charged crime of the benign slavery dominant in the American South. Black Southerners need not feel dishonored that their ancestors were bondsmen if they realize that the destiny of all men and nations is in the hands of a sovereign God; he can do with any of us according to His Sovereign pleasure. Moveover, "... all things work together for good to them that love God, who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 (KJV).
Please notice that the author places greater significance upon the holiness of God than he does upon the dignity of man, again, without apology.
Lucy Booker Roper
Bachelor of Arts, history and sociology
Blue Mountain College, Blue Mountain, Mississippi
Further study, University of Mississippi
Memphis State University
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