Slavery is Challenge to Disney's History

As a teacher and descendant of slaves, I find it highly ironic, paradoxical and extremely contradictory that Disney can sponsor the American Teacher Awards celebrating excellence in teaching, but is afraid to offend by accurately and realistically depicting slavery and the Civil War in its proposed American history theme park ("Disney Unsure How It Will Organize New Theme Park," March 9).

Is this Disney's way of saying they're afraid of criticism, so they knuckled under to critics' objections to their plans for portraying slavery so realistically that visitors could "feel" what it was like to be a slave? Or is Disney more worried about the bottom line than they are about fostering students' educational understanding of society? How did these "critics" get enough clout to make a multimillion-dollar business "run scared"?

Being able to show slavery for the mistake it was in a setting and manner accessible to everyone is a necessity and would provide an opportunity to teach everyone "true American history." An accurate portrayal of slavery and the Civil War could also go a long way toward healing the lingering animosity and rage many blacks feel toward white American society.

Shouldn't Disney be embracing this opportunity as a challenge for making a well-done, historically accurate theme area that serves both social necessity and the bottom line? Or does Disney think that this kind of teaching is not their responsibility?

ELIZABETH J.SAWYER-CUNNINGHAM

Altadena

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