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History Textbook by Weston Writer Draws Fire

Did African-Americans fight for the Confederacy during the Civil War? Weston resident Joy Masoff thinks so, and she published her controversial findings in the fourth-grade textbook, "Our Virginia: Past and Present." The book was adopted statewide as part of the public school curriculum in Virginia.

In an interview with CNN, Carol Sheriff, a professor at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., blasted Masoff's assertion and said it was "equivalent to saying that the Jews helped the Holocaust."

Masoff has said she obtained her information from Internet research. Dr. Leonard Haynes, an African-American professor and executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, has been quoted online as saying, "When you eliminate the black Confederate soldier, you've eliminated the history of the South."

Renowned statesman Frederick Douglass is also quoted online, saying, "There are ... many colored men in the Confederate Army doing duty not only as cooks, servants and laborers, but as real soldiers, having muskets on their shoulders and bullets in their pockets. " Douglass, however, served as a Union Army recruiter during the war.

But most scholars say these quotes are taken out of context, and that they are the result of individuals from the South who are still bitter about the defeat of the Confederacy 150 years ago.

Black men who served in the Confederate Army were personal servants or brainwashed slaves, according to accepted history. Five scholars vetted Masoff's book after the controversy arose about blacks in the Confederacy. They say her book is also full of other errors, such as inaccurate dates and sovereignty records.

The book was published by Five Ponds Press , which is reportedly owned by Masoff's husband, Louis Scolnik.

What do you think? Is it possible that African-Americans willingly fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War? Or is the notion pure propaganda?

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