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| Donald Worster on: Powells Father
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Donald Worster on: Powells Father
Donald Worster Q: Tell me about his father.

DW: His father joined the anti-slavery movement in the United States, after immigrating--partly through the influence of John Wesley, the greater founder of Methodism, who was anti-slavery--and lined up with some of the most radical, political groups in the United States -- the Liberty Party, other organizations fighting to emancipate blacks. When Wes was growing up, his family experienced persecution, community ridicule, his father stood on the steps of the courthouse and denounced the slave owners, in the midst of a community full of southern sympathizers. I think that left a life long impression on Wes about taking moral stances, strong moral stances in the community, even against critics. He himself went to Oberlin College, which was racially integrated. This was unheard of, before the Civil War, except at Oberlin, that blacks and whites would sit in classes together. I think it probably helps explain some of these attitudes toward American Indians later on, in his life. That is, he did not believe in the biological inferiority of one group of people, in contrast to another. He believed that all people were essentially, you know, equally human, even though they might be culturally inferior. He did believe that but, I think, he took, from his father and from that anti-slavery movement, a sense of human equality.

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