I was brought to my knees in tears as I saw the photograph of an escaped slave, Gordon, taken by McPherson and Oliver in New Orleans on April 2, 1863, 10 days after he escaped his enslaved life. As an educated, white, middle-class woman, I thought I had a grasp on the horrors of slavery and, thus, the continual tensions emerging today exemplified by the continual disenfranchisement of African-Americans.

I was wrong. I hope that everyone was humbled, as I, and saw the outright torture of a fellow human being depicted in ‘The Scourged Back.’ The same is occurring today in Ferguson, Missouri, in Baltimore and countless other cities in America. Have we not learned anything, grown, expanded our awareness? I thought I had. ‘The Scourged Back’ proved me wrong.

As a wealthy, privileged nation, is this is the “back” we built our fortunes on, the back we want to exhibit to the world? Think about it. Think about Gordon. The issues are the same.

Cammie Lapenas

retired clinical social worker

Baton Rouge