By Thomas K. Lindsay
When Colin Kaepernick took a knee last fall during the singing of the National Anthem, it sparked an intense debate over race-based police brutality. Since then, some have defended Kaepernick by arguing that, in addition to the police brutality issue, the National Anthem is racist. This defense then escalated into a larger conflict over the status of slavery in the Constitution—and for good reason: If the Constitution is racist, it follows that its symbols and celebrations—the flag and anthem—are similarly infected.
Are the moral foundations of our country—whose laws the police enforce and whose anthem we sing—racist and pro-slavery, as some believe? If America is racist at its core, it is likely that its police are too, and that its anthem and flag likewise celebrate this evil. This issue—whether freedom and equality are promoted or obstructed by America’s Founding principles—lies at the heart of the controversy roiling America today.
Much of the debate over this larger question, however, is being conducted without the civic knowledge needed to bring greater understanding, and with it, the social harmony that we all hope for. We have a rich history of thoughtful debate on this question, and we impoverish ourselves if we fail to drink from this fount. This lack of civic education owes to the deficit in such instruction in our universities. According to Department of Education statistics, two-thirds of college students graduate without ever taking even one course in American Government.
To fill the vacuum created by our universities, let us consider the arguments on race, slavery, and the Constitution presented by three giants in American history: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. CONTINUE READING HERE