America’s Long Overdue Awakening to Systemic Racism
For many who have spent their lives fighting for racial equity, these nationwide protests and moment of reckoning have been a long time coming.
In Lafayette Park, just steps away from the White House, a wealthy hotelier ran a second business selling enslaved men and women to the highest bidder.
He kept them in a brick cell beside his mansion, and at night an observer recalled hearing “their howls and cries.”
Today in the park there is no plaque, no bench and no monument, to paraphrase Toni Morrison, to memorialize the human lives brutalized there throughout much of the 19th century. After a hard-fought Civil War, the institution of chattel slavery was legally abolished as the U.S. nominally attempted to make racial violence a thing of the past. These days, in the public space situated across from the White House, one is likely to encounter instead an odd mix of office workers on lunch break and MAGA-hat-wearing tourists mingling around the hotelier’s former mansion, known as Decatur House.
Or at least, that was the scene before the past three weeks turned Lafayette Park into a crucible for the fight over the still-present legacy of slavery in America: systemic racism....................