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Bedtime Nightmares

A father who believes it is important to read to his kid bedtime stories. He takes a rather unorthodox approach to this time honored tradition. The stories he tells his kid comes right out of the history books. Believing it is vital for kids to know about their past, what is family history to his kid, would be considered fiction to most.

He starts with the heroine Ida B. Wells, a precursor to the famous muckrakers. Her courageous reporting exposed an epidemic of lynchings, mostly below the Mason-Dixon line. She was one of the only people to report o a matter most did not know, or care to know. Her stories were slightly different, but a similar running thread, be it perceived disobedience or alleged sexual violation; citizens were deprived of their rights and humanity due to the color of their skin.

The next night he tells his kid about the East St. Louis massacre. Post World War I saw many labor disputes with management reneging on promises to their workers. The workers went on strike, blacks were used as scabs just looking to make a living. American Federation of Labor leader Sam Gompers lead the striking white workers to riot against the blacks who were used as scabs. This event can serve as a parable: demagogues can divide people with common interest who should be united.

Later stories involved Rosewood, Scottsboro Nine, Lombard massacre, Tuskegee experiments, redlining and much more. These are the types of stories that are not in school textbooks. “History is the polemics of the victor,” as William F. Buckley said. This is the only way to make sure history is not lost. Unfortunately, reality sometimes lead to bedtime nightmares.

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