Slater Lecture Examines Relationship Between Freedom and Slavery

April 17, 2009

Dr. RaaflaubDr. Kurt Raaflaub and Dr. Seth Rockman examined slavery and freedom during the Mount Union College Slater Classics Lecture on Thursday, April 16 in Presser Recital Hall.

Raaflaub, professor of classics and history and chair of the program in ancient studies at Brown University, began his presentation Slavery in Ancient Greece by comparing the relationship between slavery and freedom.  “Greeks did not invent slavery; they invented liberty,” said Raaflaub, adding that all people want is to be free, as in the “exemption from obligation.” He also emphasized that the political dimension of liberty should be as widespread as the social dimensions.

Dr. RockmanRockman, assistant professor of history at Brown University presented Slavery and Capitalism.  He began by pointing out the relationship between slavery and freedom.  Rockman explained that you can’t have freedom without slavery, and vice versa.  “A society of slaves that defines itself as being free” was the way he described economic freedom.  Rockman emphasized how Americans have the freedom to buy and sell and transcend their past with the use of luck and skill.  “People who apply themselves can succeed,” he said. “Freedom is not defined by political status, but by the ability to go ahead and get ahead.”

Mount Union English professor Dr. Michelle Collins-Sibley and other representatives of the local Haines House, a local underground railroad historical site, presented a slideshow depicting life in Alliance during the nineteenth century.  The presentation included recent pictures of local children learning what it would have been like to grow up during that time.  “Hands on History,” an annual event that takes place in July, provides students with the opportunity to participate in activities that were popular during the nineteenth century such as jumping rope, stenciling, knitting, making applesauce and other period games.

The Thelma Tournay Slater Classics Lecture is made possible through a gift of Thelma E. Tournay Slater, a 1942 Mount Union College graduate. Her lifelong passion for the classics began while a student at Mount Union. Her gift supports student enrichment through an increased appreciation of the civilization and cultural achievements of ancient Greek and Rome that stand at the core of a liberal arts education.

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