Episode 2



When the “Founding Fathers” declared independence from British rule in 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” But at that time, half of the 2.5 million people living in the colonies were enslaved. How did the Revolutionists reconcile their notions of equality with the widespread system of slavery. And what about the enslaved people in the 13 colonies? What were they thinking, feeling and doing during this time? Surprisingly, over 15% of the Revolutionary Army was made up of enslaved Black people. Why did they risk their lives for a cause that denied them those very same rights? Fast forward to modern time, and the question still reverberates of why so many people of color and indigenous folks risk their lives for a country, that some would argue, denies them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In 2017, over 43% of the United States’ active duty military were minorities. That same year, the Enlist Act was introduced in Congress which would automatically give Dreamers a lawful entry status and a pathway to citizenship, if they enlisted in the military. Was that a noble concession or an exploitation of Dreamers’ desperation and fear? Is slavery abolished or are we still in bonds today? And lastly, what is the obligation of a grateful nation to its soldiers, especially when those soldiers are not even citizens? 

Experts: Professor Andrew Delbanco, Alexander Hamilton Professor of American Studies at Columbia University and the author of The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America's Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War; Felicia Escobar, Former Obama Administration Official; Manisha Sinha, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs; Dr. Nneka D. Dennie, Assistant Professor of History at Washington and Lee University; Milteri Tucker, Milteri Tucker Concepcion, Founder and CEO of Bombazo Dance Co, Inc


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