In a PBS interview with Charlie Rose, Al Sharpton demanded that the federal government halt funding to Washington, D.C.’s Jefferson Memorial, saying that people who owned slaves should not receive public funds.
The iconic domed memorial sits on the edge of Potomac River – the first of several monuments lining Washington’s Ohio Drive.
The Daily Caller reports that Sharpton offered an emotional and personal case why America’s third president, and the author of the Declaration of Independence should not receive federal funding.
“People need to understand that people were enslaved,” Sharpton told PBS‘ Charlie Rose.
Sharpton feels that because his great-grandfather was a slave, who coincidentally, was owned by an ancestor of former Sen. J. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.).
“Our families were victims of this,” he said. “Public monuments [to people like Jefferson] are supported by public funds.”
“You’re asking me to subsidize the insult to my family,” Sharpton said, adding that private museums were preferable to federally-funded monuments to slaveholders.
“When you look at the fact that public monuments are supported by public funds you’re asking me to subsidize the insult of my family. I would repeat that the public should not be paying to uphold somebody who has had that kind of background,” Sharpton told CBS host Charlie Rose.
“You have private museums, [to put them in] you have other things that you may want to do there,” he added.
Apparently Sharpton has never seen the Jefferson memorial – you cannot put it in a museum, it’s a monumental structure.
Sharpton said that because Jefferson “had slaves and children with his slaves, that it does matter,” he continued.
“I think that people need to understand when people that were enslaved and robbed of even the right to marry, and had forced sex with their slave masters, this is personal to us.”
“This is personal,” Sharpton exclaimed. “This is not some kind of removed discussion from us, our families were victims of this. Certainly they ought to be removed.”
The Federalist Papers has more:
Yes, Thomas Jefferson owned slaves (whether he had children with them is disputed). He also, like most of the Founders, wanted to see slavery abolished, writing extensively of its evils and even intending to list the slave trade in the Declaration of Independence as one of the British Empire’s offenses:
He [the king of Britain] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.
Of course, there were numerous practical challenges preventing slavery from being simply ended at America’s Founding. But Jefferson was instrumental in ultimately setting it on a path to extinction via the Declaration. As Abraham Lincoln observed:
The assertion that “all men are created equal” was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration, nor for that, but for future use. Its authors meant it to be, thank God, it is now proving itself, a stumbling block to those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism.
Confederacy VP Alexander Stephens fully recognized that Jefferson meant eventual equality for blacks, and explicitly framed the Confederacy of a rejection of that principle.
Do you think we can expect Sharpton to brush up on any of that history? Of course not.