When I was a child in public school in Ohio, and later in high school in Iowa, we learned almost nothing real about Jim Crow or slavery. All the really horrible details got glossed over. Shamefully, I remember thinking about Jim Crow that separate drinking fountains were bad but surely not that bad, even though I was glad that problem was corrected.

Almost everything we learned about Columbus was romanticized and wrong.

Of course we grew up not caring about racism. We never learned about its true horrifying toll.

In Iowa, I lived in a small bedroom community north of Des Moines. If I remember correctly, there were two Black students in my high school class, and both of them were thoroughly upper middle class.

So did my classmates and I internalize anything true about American racism? Not likely.

Americans desperately need real stories about American racism. We need the visceral sense of the smell of burning flesh. We need to feel the rope burn.

I’m so glad to read about this project.