Parents' Guide to

Lincoln's Dilemma

By Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Insightful docu debunks myths about the end of slavery.

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This interesting and insightful docuseries challenges the myths surrounding Abraham Lincoln and his role in ending slavery in the United States. It highlights how, despite being known as the Great Emancipator, he did not start his presidency with the goal of of ending slavery, and discusses the political dilemmas he faced as he attempted to unify the severely divided nation -- dilemmas that kept him from immediately seeking to end a system that most argue he found morally reprehensible. Meanwhile, it addresses the misconception that the political emancipation of enslaved people, which guaranteed their freedom under federal law, also somehow guaranteed systemic equality for Black and African American people, and how this misconception is still being fueled today.

Lincoln's Dilemma addresses Abraham Lincoln with respect and acknowledges what he realistically accomplished during his presidency, as well as the fact that the long-held myths about him were not of his own making. But these discussions, coupled with the acknowledgement of the role Black and African American people played in the overall emancipation process, such as the work of escaped slaves who became abolitionists, Union soldiers, and statesmen like Frederick Douglass, point to the need for debunking the folklore surrounding Lincoln's work if we are to have an accurate picture of U.S. history. These conversations aren't always easy to listen to, but they provide the necessary context for constructive, present-day dialogue about racial divides in America.

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