By Thomas K. Lindsay
As Americans prepare to celebrate another Fourth of July, it is alarming to learn that a Louisiana bill requiring elementary school students to recite a passage from the Declaration of Independence stalled and died last month.
The proposed legislation, House Bill 1035, would have required students in grades four, five and six to recite a portion of the Declaration in the first class of each school day. The passage that they would have recited was:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
What, one might wonder, could possibly be wrong with requiring our young people to learn the moral principles on which the United States was founded? According to a leading opponent of the bill, state representative Barbara Norton (D-Shreveport), the above passage from the Declaration is false: “One thing I do know is, all men are not created equal. . . When I think back in 1776, July the 4th, African-Americans were slaves, and for you to bring a bill to request that our children will recite the Declaration, I think is a little bit unfair to us to ask those children to recite something that’s not the truth.”
This is in fact an old charge, which goes like this: “Because America did not ban slavery immediately upon becoming a country, the Declaration’s assertion of human equality could not have been meant to apply to African-Americans.” CONTINUE READING HERE