To the Catholic Sentinel:

Of course, Southern slaveholders demanded that Jesus be depicted as white, as mentioned in your review of the book The Color of Christ, because to do otherwise would have denied white superiority supporting the slave system.

Religion was a stumbling block, however.

When I attended an advanced American history course in college, a professor who was blind yet held a doctorate degree, pointed out the the slave-holding South faced a dilemma. On one hand, it denied the humanity of black slaves. Yet it was persuaded by white Southern ministers that slaves needed the gospel.

The big problem was that slave law forbade anyone from teaching a black slave how to read. The solution was that ministers read the gospel to the slaves who chanted hymns easy to recall.

But if black slaves really weren’t human, why did the masters allow Sunday services at all?

Bob Podesfinski, Portland