Hannah-Jones: Thomas Jefferson ‘Failed to Live up to His’ Majestic Ideals

‘That’s a narrative I think we can all be proud of’


HANNAH-JONES: “Of course. I mean, look, my daughter used to always ask me, is this person good or bad, mama? And I would have to tell her, most people can do really great things and most people are capable of doing bad thing, and we can’t think of history as all good or all bad, and we can’t think about our founders or any one person as all good or all bad. Thomas Jefferson wrote down some majestic ideals. He failed to live up to them. And what we argue is that black Americans read those majestic ideals, ideals matter, and they said, 'We're going to fight to make those true.' That’s a narrative I think we can all be proud of. And we have to be able to teach our children and ourselves a complicated history about a complicated nation. And I just think the belief that if we are more honest about our history, if we are more honest about some of the really terrible things that have happened in this country, that it will somehow destroy the fabric of our country. But I actually think that you can’t have reconciliation until you reconcile with the past. And once we are honest about our history, I think that’s when we can start to move forward and repair.”

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