Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mama On: Are You Kidding?

"A job worth doing is worth doing right."

I just want to say that my mother (the original Mamaknologist) would not have liked this, and neither do I. I applaud the Naional Park Service for wanting to do something special, but why didn't they give the project the attention it deserves?

This February, in "honor" of Black History Month, the U.S. National Park Service Division of Interpretation and Education developed a brochure. The brochure is entitled, NATIONAL UNDERGROUND RAILROAD NETWORK TO FREEDOM. It is big and bright and glossy, 8.5" x 11", and available throughout the country. Now on the surface, it sounds like a great project, right? Offering photos and locations of historic sites of slave oppression and the road to freedom, this should be an awesome project, right?

Yeah, I thought so, too. Then I turned to page 14, and found information on the (Clarksville, TN) "STORIES FROM DA' DIRT" program. And this is what it says ...

"Stories From Da' Dirt" is a living history dramatic presentation that utilizes music, dance, and storytelling to tell the story of African American men and women who went to Fort Donelson (Dover, Tennessee) as laborers, cooks, nurses, and soldiers during the Civil War. Specifically, the play focuses on several families who lived near the Fort who still have connections to the area. Several of the soldiers from the 8th USCT enlisted at Fort Donelson as early as 1864. Though some of these soldiers escaped from nearby farms to enlist in the military, it was quite common for freedom seekers to join the Union Forces under assumed names in effort to hide their identity from slave owners who searched military camp sites for human property. Generally, the Union forces forced enslaved recruits to perform menial labor such as railroad construction and repairs, and fornications. Even more unfortunate, most freedom seekers that sought refuge at Union camps were sometimes sold back into slavery."

Okay, did YOU spot the typo? According to the NPS, the word "fornications" should have been "fortifications" . Yeah, I called them about it (404.507.5635) and of course the project coordinator was SHOCKED! She asked ME why no one else had caught the error (mind you, I don't work for the agency). When I asked her about proofing and editing, she simply got quiet. I asked if this was the result of a bad joke, and she sighed. On top of that, this was about to go into an additional print run -- Teachers are using this in classrooms around the country!

As an African-American woman who can trace her family back six generations on my father's side (yep, got the pictures, too!) and five on my mother's (yes, the tax records and sales papers are available), I am shocked and dismayed. As a taxpayer, I am ... well ... pissed. I don't have kids, but I don't want yours or anybody else's receiving this "error".

Maybe it's just me. What do you think?

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