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*Read-in* America Was Never White: The Costs of Historical Memory and Intentional Forgetting


In recent weeks, thanks in part to Donald Trump’s incoherent ramblings on an imaginary American past, wherein Andrew Jackson might have prevented the Civil War and Frederick Douglass’s greatest achievements are still to come, we have witnessed a resurgence of a uniquely insidious and undying debate: Was slavery the central dilemma of the Civil War? 

In this Olio read-in, we will look closely at the dangerous nature of Trump’s obtuse inquiry: “Why could that one have not been worked out?” While it may be tempting to simply laugh at a president’s profound ignorance of his own nation’s history, it is imperative that we take seriously the political and moral significance of these particular distortions. For while Trump’s blunders may be the most stupefying examples in recent memory, he is by no means alone in his contorted refashioning of the history of American slavery. Beginning in the era of Jim Crow, then waxing and waning throughout the twentieth century, our nation’s historical memory of slavery and the Civil War has routinely minimized the centrality of race-based human bondage, thereby implicitly minimizing the centrality of white supremacy in the our collective present.

Let's take aim at such lies by reading excerpts from classic texts on America’s historical memory (and lack thereof) of slavery from esteemed historians such David Blight and W. Fitzhugh Brundage, with additional primary document evidence produced during the war years. We will join together in this political action of reading and remembering, fittingly, on Memorial Day weekend. Indeed, this holiday of remembering is about much more than honoring dead soldiers. This day actually has significant and little-known ties to the history of American slavery and the ongoing struggle to preserve, remember, and honor the history of black Americans amidst the cultural cancer of white-supremacist historical revisioning.




Location: Chinatown Soup

16B Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

Chinatown Soup is a creative community advancing art, justice, historic preservation, and civic engagement in downtown New York.


Other upcoming Olios


Feb 28

American Dream/American Delusion: The Case for a Universal Basic Income

Taught by Phelim Kine
7 p.m. at WeWork // 205 Hudson

Sign Up - $15

Mar 2

Shakespeare Happy Hour | Think Olio 3rd Anniversary

Taught by Geoff Klock
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Mar 3

What is Food Anyway? Exploring Power and Individuality in the Things We Eat

Taught by Michael Haltenberger
7:30 p.m. at Brooklyn Art Library

Sign Up - $15

Mar 7

Scenius Party | Populism & the Voice of the People

Taught by Olio Happy Hour
7 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $0

Mar 8

Think Olio Read-In | The 2nd Amendment

Taught by Jamie Warren
7:30 p.m. at Judson Memorial Church

Sign Up - $5

Mar 8

Mar 9

Perverts, Creepers, and Freaks: A History of Sexual Perversions

Taught by Jamie Warren
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Mar 12

The American Moment: Victory, Dominance and Decline

Taught by Ward Regan
7:30 p.m. at Strong Rope Brewery

Sign Up - $15

Mar 15

A Radical Prescription for Democracy

Taught by Jamie Warren
7:30 p.m. at BAM Fisher

Sign Up - $25

Mar 16

The History of Tech & The Future of Sex

Taught by Olio Happy Hour
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Mar 21

The Problem of Evil

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7:30 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $15

Mar 23

OlioMuse | The Muse That Screams: Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8

Taught by Whitney George
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $25

Mar 30

Utopia Happy Hour | Thomas More and Afrofuturism

Taught by Olio Happy Hour
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20


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