The following is an excerpt from a speech delivered by Frederick Douglass in May 1857 addressing the recent Dred Scott v Sanford decision:
“The argument [of Chief Justice Taney] here is, that the Constitution comes down to us from a slaveholding period and a slaveholding people; and that, therefore, we are bound to suppose that the Constitution recognizes colored persons of African descent, the victims of slavery at that time, as debarred forever from all participation in the benefi t of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, although the plain reading of both includes them in their beneficent range.
As a man, an American, a citizen, a colored man of both Anglo-Saxon and African descent, I denounce this representation as a most scandalous and devilish perversion of the Constitution, and a brazen misstatement of the facts of history.”
In the ongoing era of BLM activism and protest, arguments are being made that suggest that we should not believe in the ideals, the principles expressed in the Constitution (see the Preamble) and the Declaration of Independence, even though these principles are stated in language that arguably seems to apply to all people (assuming “men” is equated with “mankind”), because many of the white men who drafted these documents owned slaves.
Can you reconcile the stance taken by Frederick Douglass (quoted from above), with the stance taken by the BLM activists/protestors? Do you find it problematic that the justification relied upon by the BLM activists/protestors seems to be based on the same reasoning that Chief Justice Taney developed in the Dred Scott decision, even if their objectives in employing this reasoning could not be more different? Should the BLM activists/protestors seek to identify a different foundation upon which to make their arguments? Why or why not?
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