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Annette Gordon-Reed, Black America’s Neglected Origin Stories, Atlantic, (May 4, 2021)

Abstract: Gordon-Reed explains that the story of Africans on this continent is longer and more varied than the version taught in school. The two origin stories that American children are most often taught are those of Jamestown VA, an English colony founded in 1607 as a moneymaking venture, and Plymouth MA, where people escaped religious persecution in 1620. The latter narrative is more inspirational and more in keeping with Americas sense of moral exceptionalism than the former, which is perhaps why it has tended to loom larger in the American mind. Both origin stories emphasize the triumph of amity over enmity between Indigenous people and English settlers, something very different from what actually happened. But Black people are absent in the story of Plymouth, and the role of Jamestown as a hub of chattel slavery is often minimized. For Black Americans, neither origin story is sufficient.