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Collective Amnesia: American Apartheid, African Americans’ 400 Years in North America 1619-2019, is a comprehensive study of the treatment African Americans have encountered since arriving in Virginia in 1619. Documenting a saga of racism and white supremacy, this history is seldom taught in school. Numerous tables, photographs, maps, charts and extensive footnotes make the study easy to read and provide documentation.
Chapters cover white supremacy and racism, slavery, US Colored Troops’ major contribution ending the Civil War, devastation of the South, evolution of the process of Emancipation, and Reconstruction. Other chapters address the Freedmen’s Bureau, “Redemption” and the “Lost Cause,” Jim Crow, blacks’ significant military contributions in both world wars, the Great Migration of blacks from the South, the civil rights movement, and the backlash that continues today. The twelve chapters are chronological but stand-alone, making the 502-page study a compelling read.
The book also addresses contemporary issues, including white supremacy, Confederate statuary, and the status of blacks compared to other groups. Note is taken of Professor James Whitman’s observation that Hitler adapted our Jim Crow and anti-miscegenation laws as a basis for the Holocaust, and of Richard Rothstein’s study of federal and local housing law, documenting whites’ responsibility for creating inner-city ghettos.
There are two appendices, one detailing the thirty recommendations made by a United Nations Commission after their 2016 visitation, the other documenting an illicit lynching in Virginia in 1932.