On Monday, in the middle of C-SPAN’s Juneteenth program, a man who went by Dave called in and stated “I haven’t heard any Black person say thank you to the over 300,000 white men who died to free those Black slaves.”
But Dave thinks that white people are not getting the thanks they deserve. During the call, the Republican from Texas “argued that Black Americans should do more to thank the white soldiers who fought for their emancipation.”
Dave also said he hadn’t “‘heard one white Democrat apologize for slavery’ and that his ancestors, who were from Scotland and Ireland, ‘never owned slaves.’”
The Juneteenth holiday is supposed to commemorate “the fall of slavery in Galveston, Texas, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863 to free enslaved Black people held in the Confederacy,” and essentially marks “the transition from slavery to freedom.”
Following Dave’s comments, the C-SPAN host moved on, pivoting back to an earlier question from a previous caller.
Many viewers were shocked by Dave’s assertions, with one user writing a caustic comment on a YouTube video of the program. “Either he is drunk or unemployed for being drunk as hell…I’m astonished by this caller and his utter cluelessness,” they said.
Dave’s words yesterday are not dissimilar to remarks Rush Limbaugh made on his radio show back in 2013, when he said “A little history lesson for you. If any race of people should not have guilt about slavery, it’s Caucasians.” “The white race has probably had fewer slaves, and for a briefer period of time, than any other in the history of the world,” said Limbaugh.
“[N]o other race has ever fought a war for the purpose of ending slavery, which we did. Nearly 600,000 people killed in the Civil War. It’s preposterous that Caucasians are blamed for slavery when they’ve done more to end it than any other race,” continued Limbaugh, arguing that white Americans essentially outdid themselves by fighting in the war to emancipate slaves.
Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College Kellie Cherie Carter Jackson vehemently disagrees with this argument, and has said, “The enslaved freed themselves.”
“In America, slavery died a painful death on the ground. During the Civil War, enslaved people did not wait for White liberators. They saw many of their slaveholders leave to fight, and so they left for freedom. Enslaved people by the hundreds of thousands ran away to Union lines and Northern cities to escape their bondage. Their massive migration forced the nation to place the end of slavery on the national political agenda,” writes Jackson in The Boston Globe. “Black people were not given freedom; they forced freedom to become a national mandate.”