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Photo illustration: Image of Biden against strips in the background showing images of children and an adult man and woman in a cotton field and text that reads,"For Sale".
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Biden’s statement on 'Slavery Remembrance Day' targets whitewashers

The president's remarks were clear: Truly "great" nations don't need to hide from their history.


President Joe Biden on Saturday released a brief statement in recognition of Slavery Remembrance Day, the newly established day of reflection meant to acknowledge slavery’s role in the United States' founding and legacy.

Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., introduced a resolution last year seeking federal recognition of Aug. 20 as Slavery Remembrance Day — the date in 1619 when the first slave ship arrived to the American Colonies. The resolution is a direct response to Republican officials who’ve tried to ban and whitewash lessons about racial inequality. Though it passed the House last month, the Senate has yet to consider it.

Biden informally marked the inaugural “Slavery Remembrance Day” with a clear message to people who cling to a false image of American exceptionalism to justify claims of our nation’s greatness: You’re wrong.

"Great nations don’t hide from their history," Biden said in his statement. "They acknowledge their past, both the triumphs and the tragedies. Today is a day to reflect on the terrible toll of slavery, and on our nation’s profound ability to heal and emerge stronger."

Biden’s words come at a time when conservatives are plotting ways to shield Americans from truthful teachings about American history. And the statement hammers home an important point: A nation that ignores its history can’t claim pride in it. The tireless, right-wing obsession with hiding truths about American oppression only demonstrates that these people know the sins are worth hiding. They can’t love America as they claim, because they’re too busy running from what it truly is … in pursuit of a fantasy. 

Conservative governors such as Ron DeSantis of Florida, Doug Ducey of Arizona and Greg Abbott of Texas have prioritized fragile white egos by signing bills meant to block anti-racist lesson plans. Slavery Remembrance Day is a tool to blunt those efforts.

"This is our opportunity to combat the insidious prevarications that are starting to surface that sanitize slavery," Green said in an interview Saturday on MSNBC's "PoliticsNation."

In a tweet recognizing the day, Warren vowed to keep pushing Congress to pass the resolution.

The fight for full acknowledgment of America’s original sin continues.