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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Is This <i>Really</i> Insensitive?

The principal of Cherry Hill High School East has apologized for “insensitive” language on tickets for the upcoming senior prom. The tickets urged students to “party like it’s 1776” during the event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. But that prompted complaints from students who noted “not all communities can celebrate what life was like in 1776,” Principal Dennis Perry said in a letter to the community Friday. “I am writing to apologize for the hurt feelings this reference caused for members of our school family,” wrote Perry. “I especially apologize to our African American students, who I have let down by not initially recognizing the inappropriateness of this wording,” he added.

Remember, the Founders were questioning slavery back in 1776.  One of the complaints against the King in the Declaration of Independence was that he encouraged the slave trade–a comment that was removed as part of a compromise to get all 13 colonies to sign.  (I know we don’t much believe in compromise in today’s political climate, but back then, and until rather recently, it was “a thing”.)

The issue of slavery was also addressed in Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution when it was drafted in 1787; again, a compromise said that the federal government wouldn’t do anything about slavery (what else could they do but abolish it?) until 1808.  After 1808, there were many laws limiting slavery–and even a war fought in the 1860s, the primary cause being slavery.

To argue that anyone, everyone, at any time prior to the 1950s/60s was racist and not to be admired?   Such a belief demonstrates a profound lack of historical knowledge, and does a disservice to all Americans who fought slavery, racism, and government-enforced segregation.

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