The Founding Fathers of the United States of America are often celebrated as heroes of democracy, but their contributions to the nation also included the enshrining of slavery in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. This controversial history was recently brought to the forefront in Virginia, where Anne Holton, wife of U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), denounced the Founding Documents for their role in enshrining slavery.
The comments came as Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) new history standards were approved 5-3 by the Commonwealth’s Board of Education, on which Holton sits. She said that to an audience as inclusive as Virginia, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution cannot be referenced as “remarkable documents” without acknowledging that they were fundamental in enshrining slavery and limiting protections to white property-owning men.
The history standards were written to correct disinformation and anti-America propaganda injected into the curriculum through the use of critical race theory, which Youngkin ran on during his campaign. The initial revision of the standards faced severe backlash and was rejected by the school board, but the new standards were approved to move toward a public comment period.
Virginia is a key part of the Founding story, as many of the Founding Fathers were Virginians and the state was home to a significant number of slaves. The Youngkin administration has sought to truthfully tell the history of the nation, both the good and the bad. This includes an examination of eras when America did not live up to its founding ideals, such as the dispossession of native nations, slavery, the Jim Crow era, and the race-based exclusion of Asian immigrants.
However, some on the left have used heavily embellished language to describe the standards, such as Loudoun County NAACP chapter president Michelle Thomas, who described the new standards as “the new Massive Resistance.” As the standards move into the public comment period, it will be interesting to see how they develop and how the Virginia community responds.