College Cancels “Happy Slaves” Class

ARCHDALE, N.C.

Community college officials cancelled the final
class of a Civil War history course that featured controversial claims
by its instructors that most slaves were happy in captivity.

“We would never intentionally set up any class that is offensive to
anyone in our community … and obviously this class has done that,”
said Larry K. Linker, president of Randolph Community College.
“Therefore, we are going to step back and take a close look at it …
and at Our process of approving courses.”

Linker’s decision to cancel the final class came one day after
civil rights leaders announced plans to hold a public forum in North,
Carolina so historians and other Civil War experts could counter the
claims.

Linker also said there were no plans to offer the class next semester.

“At this time it is not scheduled again,” he said.

The instructors in the nine-week course entitled “North Carolina’s
Role in the War for Southern Independence” are members of a Confederate
heritage group.

Lead instructor Jack Perdue did not join Linker at the news
conference at the school’s main campus in Asheboro. The instructor has
avoided the media since the story broke.

“I don’t know if he was invited,” said Linker, who earlier
acknowledged that he had never met Perdue face to face and had-spoken
with him only once.

Perdue is High Point post commander of the heritage group, Sons of
Confederate Veterans and a confederate history buff who has served on
historic-properties commissions in the Greensboro area.

While the school president said he felt the decision to cancel the
final class was correct, he said his mind was still open on the
question of whether the allegations were entirely true.

“Let me stress that we have not confirmed whether this course
contains the kind of content that is alleged,” Linker said. “But there
is the perception that it does, and that perception is damaging our
fine reputation.”

North Carolina NAACP chairman Melvin “Skip” Alston said he met with
Linker last month and was satisfied that the school would do the right
thing once it learned about the course.

“If someone is teaching these kinds of things in the basement of
their home, it’s one thing,” Alston said. “But it has no place at a
community college that is supported by public funds.”

Members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said they planned to
hold a public meeting so that Civil War experts, Black leaders, and
school teachers could talk about the controversial course — which also
espoused teachings that tens of thousands of slaves fought
patriotically for the South and that the Civil War was not a battle
over slavery.

“Although we remain committed to the ideals of academic freedom,
that freedom should not allow any course that hurts the people we are
trying to serve,” Linker said. “While we do not know whether this
course does that, there is enough question about it that we cannot
allow it to continue without a second look.”

COPYRIGHT 1998 Cox, Matthews & Associates



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