What do statues commemorating Confederate leaders mean? Why has the university decided to remove such statues? And why has the issue been so controversial? On Thursday, August 31 2017, speakers from the University of Texas, the Texas State Historical Association, and the Briscoe Center for American History came together to address these questions and more. […]
Like countless other cultures and countries throughout the world, the United States has its own creation myth—its own unique, dramatic story intended to explain where we came from and who we are today. In the case of the United States, this story holds that the nation was conceived in “racial” differences, and that over the last four centuries these self-evident differences have suffused our national character and shaped our national destiny. Yet America’s creation myth is just that—a myth, one that itself rests entirely on a spurious concept: For “race” itself is a fiction, one that has no basis in biology or any longstanding, consistent usage in human culture.
In March 1865, the U. S. Congress created the Freedmen’s Bureau for Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands to ease the transition between slavery and freedom for 3.5 million newly liberated slaves. The bureau had three main functions—to distribute rations to Southerners who had been loyal to the Union during the Civil War, to establish public schools for black children and adults, and to oversee labor contracts between landowners and black workers.