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Bob Dylan Slavery Comment Creates Controversy, Singer Says It ‘Ruined America’

bob dylan slavery

Singer Bob Dylan’s slavery remarks in a new interview have sparked controversy in today’s heated political climate, as the music legend remarked that the shameful slave-owning history of this country “ruined America.”

Bob Dylan’s slavery remarks were destined to be impactful, given the heated nature of the discussion about race in America at the current moment. Back on July 4th, comedian Chris Rock tweeted that the holiday was “White People’s Independence Day,” and much of the internet did not take the comment lightly.

While Bob Dylan’s slavery remark acknowledged the legacy of the slave-owning past of the US, many Americans feel (wrongly) that focusing on history is the problem, and complain of black people “dredging up” the past when it is over and done with. (Which, one might point out, didn’t exactly wash as a criticism of Rock given that the event he mentioned preceded slavery by nearly 100 years — why talk about one and not the other?)

The New York Times quotes the interview Bob Dylan gave to Rolling Stone during which he basically says that much of America’s achievements are moot given the fact they were gained on the blood and sweat of slave labor, and the paper quotes Dylan in part:

“Mr. Dylan — whose new album, ‘Tempest,’ was released on Tuesday — did not sound optimistic about the current state of race relations in the country, saying people are ‘at each other’s throats just because they are of a different color,’ adding that ‘it will hold any nation back.’ Blacks know that some whites ‘didn’t want to give up slavery,’ he said.”

After Bob Dylan made the slavery remarks, he was asked if having a black president improved the situation, to which he replied:

“I don’t have any opinion on that. You have to change your heart if you want to change.”

Do you agree with Bob Dylan, that slavery is a legacy from which America may never fully recover?

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51 Responses to “Bob Dylan Slavery Comment Creates Controversy, Singer Says It ‘Ruined America’”

  1. Joe Mosley

    Bob Dylan needs to keep his damn mouth shut.He's nothing but a bleeding heart Liberal trying to fan the flames of Racism. The Negroes blame White folks.Yet it was their own people, that captured and sold them, and the Arab slave traders, that kept the slave trade going.Yes, there were White people involved, but if not for their own people, there would have been no product.Slavery has been over since 1865.The Negroes need to get over it.

  2. June Sheppard

    Joe, Mr.Dylan has always been a pacifist and I don't take his statements as inflamatory at all. I do hold alot of racist views but he has none.

  3. Anonymous

    UMMM…WHO is joe mosley? do I care what he thinks about anything? Especially Bobby? not really! however..so much of what makes America the Greatest country on the Planet….has come from the African? American HOSTAGES.
    African Americans were NOT originally SLAVES, They were captured and hauled across many waters and sold as slaves,
    much like The Children of Israel, enslaved 400 years and emerged from a unimaginable plight to "possess the gates of their oppressors" as predicted….however it should be noted that African/Americans were the foundation of the Creative Force that has shaped a Culture that makes America GREAT, Blues, Jazz and must I add Rock and roll..ALL have their ROOTS in The African/American diaspora. African/Americans….not negroes.. which I believe is dated and obviously ignorant, but it is the ignorant, uneducated and racist mentality that separates Americans and focuses upon our differences as opposed to highlighting our commonality, Personally I agree with them both.

    for the record, Slavery as we know it did not exist in Africa, Conquered tribal enemies were often sold to distant tribes, and did no remain Slaves for life, eventually they were freed and allowed an equal status. Unlike the inhumane.
    treatment that is still happening today.READ A BOOK, MOSLEY! AND take off that Hood!

  4. Dolores Aquadro

    there have been slaves through out all of history. There were slaves back in Roman times and even before then. So don't go blaming America's ills on slavery, Bob Dylon is fanning the flames of racism and he knows exactly why, because of politics and the elections coming up! America is a great country and yes we are going through some really hard times, but talk like this will not help solve anything. We need to work together to help build our country.

  5. Kim Swiger

    Hmmm, let's see my last album only sold a few and I am needing more money what can I do? Maybe I'll say something incredibly stupid and get some attention. Yeah that'll work since my music stinks I'll give it a try.

  6. Daniel Lawson

    is this guy serious? The whole world is build on the back of slaves… Slavery being socially unacceptable is a rather new concept in the world considering the history of man. It' is not as if all ethic groups have not been enslaved at some point.

  7. Anonymous

    As usual Dylan like most celebrities doesn't know the facts and is wrong on most all accounts here. He also says blacks know that some whites "didn't want to give up slavery." What he is not mentioning as always is that BLACKS didn't want to give up slavery either. Not the blacks that were slaves of course—and the blacks that were providing the slaves to the trade.Also black slave owners in Africa, the Caribbean, South American and the CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA! White people didn’t go there and run thru the Jungle and catch black people for slaves. They bought them from BLACK people-Slave sellers)! in Africa. The Mandingos and others from the African coast.

    The African and Muslim slave trade had been going on for hundreds of years BEFORE any American white people showed up with a boat on the African coast. Americans LEARNED the slave trade from Negro Africans who practiced tribal SLAVERY FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS. Both white and black people have been sold a bullshit bill of goods about when, how, and where it started and ended. It’s all soooo very handy and comforting to the black people now to wrap themselves in indignity and fake anger at ‘WHITEY’ because we’re so stupid as to let this massive dis-information campaign continue. (To our and THEIR detriment by the way) And they can extract so many goodies as a result they aren’t going to give it up any time soon.

    All people, Black and white need to be informed about the truth and facts of slavery in America and the world. Black people (actually American black people) are Negros not “blacks”. There are black people from other societies who are just as black as any Negros in the US. India and the the mid-east to name two, India for example where the skin color cast system is harsher today than segregation ever was here.
    That term they dreamed up to hide from the fact that they are exactly that- NEGROS. And there’s NOTHING wrong with being that—if they would just accept it and move on to better things.
    Everybody (especially Dylan) should know that several Caribbean countries continued slavery for decades after the U.S. abolished it. These countries were (and are) predominately Negro population. YES! The Negro population (or black if you insist) OWNED NEGRO SLAVES! Tens of thousands of them at the least).

    Dylan did get one thing right ( a broken clock is right twice a day syndrome) "If slavery had been given up in a more peaceful way, America would be far ahead today."
    Don’t believe it? Look it up. And don’t waste your time replying with name calling and other insults because, number one— these are the FACTS. Number two–when the facts can’t be disputed then ignorant people resort to name calling because they have nothing else. Number three I’m not going to read any replies because I already KNOW the facts. I took the time to find out. You can too—start your research here. Of course there will always be those that just can’t stand the truth that they don’t like, so will twist, turn, manipulate, justify and stretch logic to the point of absurdity to deny the facts, which simply are, Negros had more to do with slavery than any other group except Muslims and particularly white America..
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrxmdjaK7Cs
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrxmdjaK7Cs
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1V3S5vpZcY&feature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9X8r_lD9xRk

  8. Alim Bashir Nurradin

    Kudos to Dylan! How can a country be founded on ideas of freedom and still have slaves? This country has always contradicted itself when it comes to race and religion. Even today we see the remnants of old Jim Crow trying to shove a black man out if office because one group of people feel they can't win fairly. While slavery has been over since 1865, racism still exist. A certain amount of Amerucans have aided in destroying the black community who only wanted to be left alone. The klan, Tulsa Oklahoma,1923, Rosewood, 1921, and Jim Crow. Look into it! By the way, the use of the word negro in 2012 shows that people haven't come far in their thinking. So it's not Dylan who needs reflection. Peace

  9. Jorge Angelo Redmond

    I agree with his statement, and although slavery has existed throughout the existence of creation, what is correct is the way USA handled the transition out of slavery

  10. Jorge Angelo Redmond

    I agree with his statement, and although slavery has existed throughout the existence of creation, what is correct is the way USA handled the transition out of slavery

  11. Amenti Sujai

    The shed blood of ancestral Natives and Africans soaked in the soil of America's heartland will always, always cry out for justice. You and your slaveholding ancestors may want to get over it, but you and your chilldren are destined never to be allowed to forget it. Now, get over that.

  12. Stephanie White Fontana

    I could not agree with dylan more. it's just far past time for someone to speak the truth out loud. chris rock said….wait, who cares what c.r. says?

  13. Richard Seyman

    Mr. Mosley, if you don't like negroes continued complaining, get the hell out of our liberal nation. Black Americans have better earned a right to be here than you and your racist, slaver family ever did. Your ignorant attempt to shift blame for US slavery to blacks is absolutely classic Southern-fried bullshit. Slave trade was banned in 1807 BECAUSE the noble founding fathers of Virginia and elsewhere made most of their living off of breeding and selling slaves to cotton growers and they didn't want the competition from importers. Oh, and you say it all ended 1865, huh? Oh yeah? When did lynching niggers end down there where your folks come from? Around 1965. And how did it end? Only at the point of a gun held by federal troops. Likewise, school de-segragation and voting rights for black citizens required federal enforcement. It was a mistake for the Unionists to "get over" the treason and atrocities committed by the South so soon. The culture of the white South is in every respect un-American and dishonorable. I am sick and tired of your kind of pathetic, ignorant defense of it. If there is a damn mouth that needs to keep shut it is yours. If you can't manage that, then get out–that is, if you can find any other nation on the face of the earth fool enough to take you in, which you likely cannot. You and your kind are what holds this nation back.

  14. Anonymous

    We the people are not at each other's throats. It's the politicians & self appointed "saviors" who keep the pot stirred up. Unless we forgive each other and move on, the problem will keep being just that, a problem. We are all Americans & all of us have made mistakes. The same people who try to tie us down by our past sins are the same people that defend Islam, which as far as I know, the only culture left in the world that practices not only slavery, but child prostitution & drug trade, opium from poppies. If America isn't Chris Rock's country, let him move to the place that is, but none of these people ever leave, even though they say they will.

  15. Junior Gong

    fugg Joe "devil/cracker" Mosley! All because something was done all throughout history doesn't make it correct.I will tell you one thing though, This country is going to hell in a handbasket,(this country can be great , truly great! if it practiced what he but on paper.) and alot of that has to do wih the biggoted, racist, prejudiced sons and daughters on slave masters.I hear alot of talk about telling people to forget about slavery – do you tell the jews to forget about the holocaust? Do you tell bosnia to forget about all the women that was raped? Probably not! I don't see anyone getting upset about money going to isreal.or nazi restitution payments to jews in america when no jews were killed by hitler here. America will pay for her sins whether you like it or not.This type of foolish thinking only breeds more attacks.Blacks who have foolishly fought for this country, died and bleed never get their respect due.This country needs another civil war.You crackers hate blacks and other ethnic groups so much.Remember this is stolen land you are on.The white race has, raped , robbed, stolen from everyone and everything on the planet.That is your legacy.You make mockery of every religion.You are the worlds greatest hypocrites.Just remember at some point the victim gets tired and fights back because they realize their is nothing to lose.Stop blaming slavey on others and take deed of your sins.Just remember all these terrorist on not in this country.If all the other races that you hate so much did that you guys would be in trouble.
    Stop being cowards if you are that hateful claim it and stop hiding so you can be dealt with properly.You crackers keep talking about about blacks cant et it together but everytime blacks do for self you burn it down.you terrorize! kkk – so you history proves time and time again you are an evil race and do not want africans to succed at anything.SO A race war is needed.Who is willing to die? are you? hmmm Like I said all you crackers need to think about it.The world is passing you by and as Bob said your racist-biggoted views is holding the USA back.Only thing the united States leads in is entertainment and military might – that is it! So joe I hope you have daughters they probably get banged by some black guy on some college campus…………..hahahahah – thank god white girls have big butts now! lol damn drunked slorebags…….hahahh think about it pastie..until you do right – america is in a land of shit..don't believe me travel overseas.

  16. Zenobia Braxton

    There's nothing we can do about it now, but he's right – there are still a number of white people who wish they did not have to pay me for doing my job. They can't help it – they are raised that way, whether they realize it or not. We just have to ignore them, because we still have to live and work in this world, but I see that attitude in certain faces every single day. You don't look for it, but unfortunately, they put it in your face, and what am I supposed to do, not see it? Every now and then, when someone in the media uses the "n" word, and everyone wants an apology, I do not. They said what they meant, and as far as a I'm concerned, they've done me a favor by not letting me foolishly think that they respect me. Now that I know how they feel, we ARE equal, so no one needs to hide how they feel, not from me anyway. Anywhoo, like it or not, there are a certain number who wish slavery was still here. We just have to rise above them and know that the righteous shall prevail.

  17. Coalhouse Walker

    Its amazing when a white man comes forward and has an opinion on the history of slavery in America, white folks get upset and angry like "Keep your mouth shut!" If someone black said it the comments it would be "Get over it." What's interesting is that white folks never let anyone forget the "Holocaust" in Nazi Germany. That fact the Mr. Redneck Mosley uses the word "negroes" only shows that there is still a considerable ways to go in race relations regardless if America has a black president or not. What's also interesting is white folks bringing up everyone else's past history with enslavement in other countries further proving that white Americans still don't want to deal with the ugly smear/stain on the American conscious. Deal with it! He was talking about America not other countries. Cop outs left and right on all the pages regarding this issue.

  18. Don Adair

    For Joe and anyone else who believes the racism of slavery is behind us, I suggest you consider the abnormally high incidence of executions in states whose histories include lynching. Then there's the "war on drugs," which was implemented as part of the "Law and Order" response to black unrest in the '60s and to this day punishes blacks more harshly and in greater numbers than it does whites. Dylan is exactly right; slavery is a wound on the nation's soul that continues to fester.

  19. Don Adair

    For Joe and anyone else who believes the racism of slavery is behind us, I suggest you consider the abnormally high incidence of executions in states whose histories include lynching. Then there's the "war on drugs," which was implemented as part of the "Law and Order" response to black unrest in the '60s and to this day punishes blacks more harshly and in greater numbers than it does whites. Dylan is exactly right; slavery is a wound on the nation's soul that continues to fester.

  20. Anonymous

    …….i love dylan..The truth is, what he's saying goes beyond slavery, it's about how humans can treat others if given legal rights to do so…….we're all born with love and hate, it's our genetics. Genetics will never change,,,,, but laws are the only thing that changes our society. But we don't ever acknowledge that, it took me years to acknowledge myself.

  21. Wendy Stupka

    African American slavery did not end with the Civil War…it continued quietly in the South up to World War 2. Look into it.

  22. Ralph Barnette

    This is the richest country that didn't just build itself on the backs of slaves but shipped them almost halfway around the planet to exploit them. It was also one of the last societies to officially give up the practice, only to re-install it in another form – that is sinister. And please qualify the 'all ethic groups have not been enslaved at some point' remark; it has the ring of made-up nonsense.

  23. Ralph Barnette

    Anh-Minh Nguyen, do you tell your Jewish friends and acquaintances to 'just get over' the Nazis, or the murders at the '72 Olympics, or the families of the 9/11 victims the same? I didn't think so. What's your problem? Total and absolute blindness I think.

  24. Ralph Barnette

    Kim, I've followed Dylan's politics since the mid sixties and he was as on-target then and in the same vein. I never met the man but I consider him to have solid integrity.

  25. Ralph Barnette

    Jorge, what transition? You have some studying to do. try googling 'Reconstruction' and then '1877 Compromise.' You will find that the transition out of slavery was cut short, then Jim Crow was installed as a result of political horse-trading away what would have been a transition from slavery. What we have left today is the continued grinding of the slavery machinery left in place in American institutions like the Sanford police department and redlining banks. Ask Trayvon Martin and any black person paying more for less house.

  26. Ralph Barnette

    Dolores, you seem to be among those who I think are the biggest part of the problem. Like most Americans you want to act like slavery never happened, pretend that the US is oh-so-right in every way and any critical analysis is unfounded. Get a grip. Pretend that 9/11 never happened and don't teach the truth of it in history classes – how does that strike you. This is what is done with American slavery by a populace that wants to believe a fairytale and replace facts with poppycock. Like I mention to some of the people I meet, the Moors ruled half of Europe for 300 years; they did not enslave whites, nor did they force them to abandon their cultures and religion; they did build many of the mosques still around in Europe. These facts are mostly not taught in American schools either. There is a better way of doing things and America did not take that route. DYLAN has it right.

  27. Rastus Hill

    Old Joe We are not negroes that shows you intellect and discredit what you have to say, just because a person looks like a Arab doesn't mean they are one, you need to check your facts, how about first reading the book the secret relationship between blacks and jews, that will open your eyes to who really perpetrated the slave trade and for what motives. So old Joe let me put your kids and your kids kids, and their kids kids under great stress and mistreatment and see where your family end up at. And then let me throw in jim crow and all the redlining and miseducation and wow look what we have gangster rap, guns and drugs. It's not just a coincedence the jails are populated with non violent offenders…or is it the new cotton fields Joe

  28. Dorothy Johnson

    Joe Mosley but the so called Christians(whites) didn't have to make slaves out of my people.

  29. Joe Mosley

    Dorothy Johnson,your own people didn't have to sell you into slavery.But they did.You are blaming the wrong people. Personally,I don't owe you anything.Nor do I care what happens to you.You are not my problem.

  30. Joe Mosley

    Reading some of these comments just proves my point. The Negroes are never going to accept the fact that their own people sold them into slavery. They are never going to quit blaming the White man , nor are they going to accept responsibility for their own lives and actions.You people have your freedom, and the same opportunities that anyone else has.You are not my responsibility. When a person shows me they deserve respect, they will get it.But until then, I don't really care.

  31. June Sheppard

    I subscribe to Rolling Stone Magazine, Joe. Tha statement was taken out of context and twisted.

  32. Joe Mosley

    Coalhouse Walker,I believe Negro,is the proper name for your Race. You people keep blaming the White man for your problems, As far as your Negro President,the only thing he knows how to do is lay the Race card and blame someone else for his shortcomings.Since I've never owned any of you,nor do I ever want to,I don't believe I owe you,or any other Negro ,a damn thing.

  33. Joe Mosley

    June,I don't read Rolling Stone Magazine. Whether the statement was taken out of context or not,I don't know.I do know that I do get tired of the Negroes blaming the Caucasian Race,of which I am proud to be a member of,for what happened in the past.Slavery has been over since 1865. We are stll being blamed by the Negroes for their shortcomings. The Negro is not ,nor has ever been my responsibility or pronlem. I respect anyone the shows me that he or she deserves respect.But I respect no one that constantly blames someone else ,including Obama,for his or her problems.And a bleeding hear Liberal ,deserves nothing but contempt.

  34. Coalhouse Walker

    Haha then Dylan pulled that card not me. Negro means mentally dead not a name giving to a particular race. Hue-man means "of color" but you wouldn't know that. Did you know white isn't even a color? Ha. People like yourself prove my point. So to go even further since you think we're so inferior, my father was a cardiovascular surgeon, retired Colonel in your white mans Army, served in Vietnam; mother a nurse practitioner. We've traced our family history/name back to the late 1700's so far and there's no proof that the Walker family were never slaves or property. Brown eye dominant, blue eye recessive. Name calling doesn't hurt me Mr. Mosley, but your ignorance really hurts you. You know what the real problem is? White folks like you are mad b/c you ain't me.

  35. Coalhouse Walker

    Joe Mosley Haha then Dylan pulled that card not me. Negro means mentally dead not a name giving to a particular race. Hue-man means "of color" but you wouldn't know that. Did you know white isn't even a color? Ha. People like yourself prove my point. So to go even further since you think we're so inferior, my father was a cardiovascular surgeon, retired Colonel in your white mans Army, served in Vietnam; mother a nurse practitioner. We've traced our family history/name back to the late 1700's so far and the Walker family were never slaves or property. Brown eye dominant, blue eye recessive. Name calling doesn't hurt me Mr. Mosley, but your ignorance really hurts you. You know what the real problem is? White folks like you are mad b/c you ain't me. Ha

  36. Liz-marie Luvnmyheelzz Parlow

    Due to OUR HISTORY(BLACK HISTORY) it will always be a problem….As long as they're RACISM IN AMERICA THEY WILL ALWAYS BE AN ISSUE

  37. Liz-marie Luvnmyheelzz Parlow

    To:Don
    Ignorant Black Person:Don suck my ancestors DICK..
    Intelligent Black Person: God bless you…
    Right now imma go with the ignorant one…get it ;')

  38. Liz-marie Luvnmyheelzz Parlow

    @Don the racist ASSHOLE fyi… my "negro president" is also your PRESIDENT!!!!! So get over it because "OUR PRESIDENT IZZZZZZ BLACK..KMSL

  39. Liz-marie Luvnmyheelzz Parlow

    JOE Mosely the comment I made to Don is also for U an yo fam;')

  40. Frank DiCristofano Sr.

    I have been a fan of Bob Dylan's music since I discovered him as a teenager. He and other musicians during that time helped me form and expand on my leftist political beliefs. As a teenager, I felt like an outcast because I grew up surrounded by conservatives. I was afraid to say anything because of the wrath that would come back at me. Listening to Dylan helped me to feel I was not alone in my beliefs. I agree totally with what Bob said. He wrote a song in the 1980's called Blind Willie McTell. Please Google it and listen to the song. It is the foundation of what Bob recently said.