THE SALLY HEMINGS CONTROVERSY

Seems everyone was talking about Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson
When I arrived as a doctoral student in 1986 at Thomas Jefferson’s

University of Virginia

White Virginians could not abide the meaning if Thomas Jefferson
Had engaged in sexual relations with an African-American woman

Miscegenation horror

White Virginians could not abide the thought that living African-Americans’
Great-great grandfather is—Lordy!—the Founding Father Thomas Jefferson

Horror

Enslaved, Sally Hemings was incapable of consenting to Thomas Jefferson
Ordinarily, American law has language for sexual relations without consent

Monticello horror

I bristled when I heard our Monticello tour guide refer to enslaved persons,
The enslaved persons Jefferson owned, as “servants.”  Yet, I said nothing.

Expensive property

Our tour guide said further that owners treated their enslaved persons well
In order to protect their investment and to get a good return from their property

Country clubs

My African-American department head was barred from Virginia country clubs
Yet held two endowed chairs at the University of Virginia, he was that important

Historic restaurant

I gave my girlfriend a ring in the most expensive restaurant in Charlottesville
All the servers were African-American, liveried, standing backs against the wall

Waiting

I returned to Monticello in 2014, now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Language developments revised the experience of Monticello in a tour entitled

Slavery at Monticello

A Y-chromosome proved Jefferson’s paternity of Sally Hemings’ descendants
I don’t know if Virginians still talk about this, having relocated upon graduation

DNA evidence

I watched the Charlottesville Unite the Right riot with swastikas, KKK, volknuts 
Confederate flags and a white supremacist drove his car into the mob and killed

Heather Heyer

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