[Quick Pick] The Black History of the White House by Clarence Lusane
Celebrating Black History Month at the VCU Libraries
Official histories of the United States have ignored the fact that 25 percent of all U.S. presidents were slaveholders, and that black people were held in bondage in the White House itself. And while the nation was born under the banner of "freedom and justice for all," many colonists risked rebelling against England in order to protect their lucrative slave business from the growing threat of British abolitionism. These historical facts, commonly excluded from schoolbooks and popular versions of American history, have profoundly shaped the course of race relations in the United States. In this work, the author presents a comprehensive history of the White House from an African American perspective, illuminating the central role it has played in advancing, thwarting, or simply ignoring efforts to achieve equal rights for all. Here are the stories of those who were forced to work on the construction of the mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the determined leaders who pressured U.S. presidents to outlaw slavery. They include White House slaves, and servants who went on to write books, Secret Service agents harassed by racist peers, Washington insiders who rose to the highest levels of power, the black artists and intellectuals invited to the White House, community leaders who waged presidential campaigns, and many others. Juxtaposing significant events in White House history with the ongoing struggle for civil rights, the book makes plain that the White House has always been a prism through which to view the social struggles and progress of black Americans.
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