I’ve spent my morning emailing people and putting things on my calendar and I have many people I want to email this post to, just because I want to hear their thoughts, but I think all y’all read here. So, instead, I’m linking to it right here.
I am, obviously, not a professional historian, but it seems to me that this approach to history, in which we openly ask questions whose answers have been either lost or deliberately kept from us and acknowledge the spaces caused by lack of knowledge really appeals to me.
The glossing over, the closing off of avenues, as if we already know or as if we can’t know, that’s a lie to me. I would rather, a million times over, that, for instance, Henry Brown had no occasion to watch his wife being sold away from him. I wish that were not true. And yet, I truly believe that the debt the living owe the dead is not to create a sanitized place in which Brown’s story is never told, where it is as if it did never happen, but to hear it and know it is true.