Poet Clint Smith III takes a critical look at the Founding Fathers’ role in oppressing black people in his latest poem entitled “History Reconsidered.”
His piece served as a letter to five of the United States presidents who owned slaves, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe and Andrew Jackson.
“When you wrote to Congress that black people should count as three-fifths of a person, how long did you have to look at your slaves to figure out the math?” Smith poses to Madison. “Was it easy to chop them up? Did you think they’d be happy being more than just half human?”
Smith’s words in the video above pierce through this nation’s tainted history that still plagues black Americans today. He reminds his audience that these presidents’ accomplishments are always revered without mention of the slaves their victories were built upon.
He perfectly drives his point home toward the end of the poem:
“When you sing that this country was founded on freedom, don’t forget the duet of shackles dragging against the ground my entire life. I had been taught how perfect this country was, but no one ever told me about the pages torn out of my textbooks. How black and brown bodies have been bludgeoned for three centuries and find no place in the curriculum. Oppression doesn’t disappear just because you decided not to teach us that chapter.”
Let Smith’s words serve as a reminder to everyone that America’s story is incomplete without all sides present.