Tag Archives: Underground Railroad

Why Do We Celebrate America

What To The Slave Is The 4th Of July?
Independence Day Speech at Rochester, 1852

Frederick Douglass (A former slave himself, he became a leader in the 19th Century Abolitionist Movement) This speech courtesy of The Freeman Institute™.

fd1Fellow citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that the dumb might eloquently speak and the “lame man leap as an hart.”

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine.

You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me by asking me to speak today? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn that it is dangerous to copy the example of nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can today take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people.

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! We wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.”

Fellow citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! Whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, today, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorry this day, “may my right hand cleave to the roof of my mouth”! To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world.

My subject, then, fellow citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave’s point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine. I do not hesitate to declare with all my soul that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting.

America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate, I will not excuse”; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, shall not confess to be right and just….

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not as astonishing that, while we are plowing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, and secretaries, having among us lawyers doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators, and teachers; and that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hillside, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives, and children, and above all, confessing and worshiping the Christian’s God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!…

“What To The Slave Is The 4th Of July?” And Thanks my Thought Provoking Perspective…


The Story Of The Great Conductor

1-When you think of great women the great conductor has to be at the top or the list. Early in the life of Harriet Tubman, she suffered a traumatic head wound when she was hit by a heavy metal weight thrown by an irate overseer, intending to hit another slave. It struck Tubman instead, which she said “broke my skull.” She later explained her belief that her hair, which “had never been combed and stood out like a bushel basket” might have saved her life.

Bleeding and unconscious, Tubman was returned to her owner’s house where she remained without medical care for two days at which time she was immediately sent back into the fields to work. The injury caused disabling seizures, headaches, powerful visionary and dream activity, and spells of hypersomnia which occurred throughout her entire life.

In 1849, after escaping to Philadelphia she immediately returned to Maryland to rescue the rest of her family. Slowly, one group at a time, she brought relatives with her out of the state and eventually guided dozens of other slaves to freedom. Traveling by night and in extreme secrecy, Moses never lost a passenger.

“There was one of two things I had a right to,” she explained later, “liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.” Slaveholders in the region never knew that “Minty,” the petite, five-foot-tall, disabled slave who had run away years before and never come back, was behind so many slave escapes in their community.

She also carried a revolver and was not afraid to use it. Once a slave agreed to join her expedition there was no turning back – and she threatened to shoot anyone who tried to return. Tubman told the tale of one voyage with a group of fugitive slaves, when morale sank and one man insisted he was going to go back to the plantation. She pointed the gun at his head and said: “You go on or die.”

One of her last missions into Maryland was to retrieve her aging parents. Her father, Ben, had purchased Rit, her mother, in 1855 from Eliza Brodess for twenty dollars. But even when they were both free, the area became hostile to their presence. Two years later, Tubman received word that her father had harbored a group of eight escaped slaves and was at risk of arrest. She traveled to the Eastern Shore and led them north into Canada.

In fact, by the late 1850’s they began to suspect the white abolitionist John Brown was secretly enticing their slaves away from the Eastern Shore before his ill-fated raid on Harper’s Ferry. Tubman was introduced to the insurgent John Brown who advocated the use of violence to destroy slavery. Although she never advocated violence against whites, she agreed with his course of direct action and supported his goals.

Like Tubman, he spoke of being called by God, and trusted the divine to protect him from the wrath of slaveholders. She claimed to have had a prophetic vision of meeting Brown before their encounter. Tubman did help Brown as he began recruiting supporters for an attack on slaveholders and referred to her as “General Tubman.”

Her knowledge of support networks and resources in the border states of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware was invaluable to Brown and his planners. Unlike other abolitionists like Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison who did not endorse his tactics, Brown dreamed of fighting to create a new state for freed slaves, and made preparations for military action. After he began the first battle, he believed slaves would rise up and carry out a rebellion across the south. He asked Tubman to gather former slaves then living in Canada who might be willing to join his fighting force, which she did.

Tubman was busy during this time, giving talks to abolitionist audiences and tending to her relatives causing her to be unaware of the actual attack. So in the autumn of 1859, as Brown and his men prepared to launch the attack on Harpers Ferry, Tubman was not present. The raid failed; Brown was convicted of treason and hanged in December. His actions were seen by abolitionists as a symbol of proud resistance, carried out by a noble martyr. Tubman herself was effusive with praise. She later told a friend: “He done more in dying, than 100 men would in living.”

She was the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the Civil War. She guided the raid on the Combahee River, liberating more than seven hundred slaves. In addition, during the war she worked as a cook and nurse, and then as an armed scout and spy. After the war, she retired to the family home in Auburn, New York, where she cared for her aging parents. She was active in the woman’s suffrage movement until illness overtook her and she had to be admitted to a home for elderly African-Americans she had helped open years earlier.

Tubman returned to Auburn at the end of the war. During a train ride to New York, the conductor told her to move into the smoking car. She refused, explaining her government service. He cursed at her and grabbed her, but she resisted and he summoned two other passengers for help. While she clutched at the railing, they muscled her away, breaking her arm in the process. They threw her into the smoking car, causing more injuries. As these events transpired, other white passengers cursed Tubman and shouted for the conductor to kick her off the train.

Her constant humanitarian work for her family and former slaves, meanwhile, kept her in a state of constant poverty, and her difficulties in obtaining a government pension were especially taxing for her. Tubman spent her remaining years in Auburn, tending to her family and other people in need. She worked various jobs to support her elderly parents, and took in boarders to help pay the bills. Tubman’s friends and supporters from the days of abolition, meanwhile, raised funds to relieve her poverty.

As Tubman aged, the sleeping spells and suffering from her childhood head trauma continued to plague her. By 1911, her body was so frail that she had to be admitted into the rest home named in her honor. A New York newspaper described her as “ill and penniless,” prompting supporters to offer a new round of donations. Surrounded by friends and family members, Harriet Tubman died of pneumonia on March 10, 1913. Just before she died, she told those in the room: “I go to prepare a place for you.”

 

And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


History’s Most Courageous Harriet Tubman

1Harriet Tubman, in my opinion, was the most courageous woman who ever lived, and my personal hero. Hidden in the tiny “dash” on her marker is her life’s work of being the great conductor of the Underground Railroad, a scout, spy, and nurse during the Civil War.

Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross sometimes referred to as “Moses.” The date of her actual birth is suspect because as a slave accurate birth records were not kept. Therefore, no one can say for sure as to the actual date. She always proclaimed her birth as 1825 but most historians believe she was born around 1820 or 1821.

After escaping from the slavery into which she was born, she made thirteen missions to rescue over seventy slaves using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She once remarked that she could have saved a lot more if they had only known they were slaves. Her courage was that of unimaginable proportion because death was the penalty for such work.

Early in her life, she was told that she was of Ashanti lineage from what is now Ghana where her grandmother was captured. Her mother, Rit, struggled to keep their family together as slavery tried to tear it apart. Edward Brodess sold three of her daughters separating them from the family forever.

Once a trader from Georgia approached Brodess about buying Rit’s youngest son Moses; she hid him for a month, aided by other slaves and free blacks in the community. At one point she even confronted her owner about the sale. Finally, Brodess and “the Georgia man” came toward the slave quarters to seize the child where Rit told them: “You are after my son, but the first man that comes into my house I will split his head open.” Brodess backed away and abandoned the sale.

Because Tubman’s mother was assigned to “the big house” and had scarce time for her own family, as a child Tubman took care of a younger brother and a baby. At the age of five or six, she was hired out to a woman named “Miss Susan” as a nursemaid. Tubman was ordered to keep watch on her baby as it slept. When it woke or cried, Tubman was whipped.

She told of a particular day when she was lashed five times before breakfast. She carried these scars for the rest of her life. Threatened later for stealing a lump of sugar, Tubman hid in a neighbor’s pig sty for five days, where she fought with the animals for scraps of food. Starving, she returned to Miss Susan’s house and received a heavy beating.

Tubman was beaten and whipped regularly by her various masters to whom she had been hired out. She learned to protect herself from such abuse by wrapping herself in layers of clothing but cried out as if she was not protected. Tubman also worked as a child for a planter where her job was to go into nearby marshes to check the muskrat traps.

Even after contracting the measles, she was sent into waist high cold water. She became very ill and was sent back to her master. Her mother nursed her back to health, whereupon she was immediately hired out again to various farms. As she grew older and stronger, she was assigned to grueling field and forest work: driving oxen, plowing, and hauling logs.

Tubman’s father Ben was released from slavery at the age of forty-five, as stipulated in a former owner’s will, though his real age was closer to fifty-five. He continued working as a timber estimator and foreman for the Thompson family, who had owned him as a slave.

Several years later, Tubman contacted a white attorney and paid him five dollars to investigate her mother’s legal status. The lawyer discovered that a former owner had issued instructions that Rit, like her husband, would be manumitted at the age of forty-five. The record showed that a similar provision would apply to Rit’s children and that any children born after she reached forty-five years of age were legally free, but her owners ignored this stipulation.

Around 1844, she married a free black man named John Tubman. Although little is known about him or their time together, the union was complicated due to her slave status. Since the mother’s status dictated that of her children, any children born to Harriet and John would be enslaved. As a result of her master’s death the likelihood that Tubman would be sold increased and the family would be broken apart as their master’s widow would sell the family’s slaves. Tubman refused to wait for her owner’s family to decide her fate, despite her husband John’s efforts to dissuade her.

She escaped to Philadelphia and returned to Maryland to find her husband. However, John had married another woman named Caroline. Tubman sent word that he should join her, but he insisted that he was happy where he was. Tubman at first prepared to storm their house and make a scene but decided he was not worth the trouble. Suppressing her anger, she found some slaves who wanted to escape and led them to Philadelphia. John and Caroline raised a family together until he was killed sixteen years later in a roadside argument with a white man.

It is said, that she freed hundreds but when asked she said I could have saved many more if they only knew they were slaves. I don’t know what it says on her final marker but it should contain a simple inscription that says – “Servant of God”. In my opinion, she was the most significant black woman in our history!  And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Just a Season

AMAZON


The Underground Railroad: The Invisible Rails

462_160I have repeatedly expressed the evils of slavery, in spite the fact that white folk tries to claim “it wasn’t that bad” or claim those living today had nothing to do with it. We know they have changed history to make it appear as if they are Christian and not of the devil. Malcolm told us they were devils and most would call them savages.

Try to imagine how horrible slavery was, being beaten, raped, and sold. Thankfully, during those times there were slaves brave enough to create the Underground Railroad, which was a network of secret routes and safe houses established during the early-to-mid 19th century, and used by African American slaves to escape into free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause.

The term is also applied to the abolitionist movement were both black and white, free and enslaved, who aided the fugitives on their journey. Most don’t know that there were various other routes that led to Mexico or overseas. An earlier escape route running south toward Florida, then a Spanish possession, existed from the late 17th century until shortly after the American Revolution. However, the network generally known as the Underground Railroad was formed in the early 1800s, and reached its height between 1850 and 1860. Estimates suggest that by 1850, 100,000 slaves had escaped via the “Railroad”.

Canada, where slavery was prohibited, was a popular destination, as its long border gave many points of access. More than 30,000 people were said to have escaped there via the network during its 20-year peak period, although U.S. Census figures account for only 6,000. Numerous fugitives’ stories are documented in the 1872 book The Underground Railroad Records by William Still, an abolitionist who then headed the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee.

At its peak, nearly 1,000 slaves per year escaped from slave-holding states using the Underground Railroad – more than 5,000 court cases for escaped slaves were recorded – much fewer than the natural increase of the enslaved population. The resulting economic impact was minuscule, but the psychological influence on slaveholders was immense. Under the original Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, officials from free states were required to assist slaveholders or their agents who recaptured runaway slaves, but citizens and governments of many free states ignored the law, and the Underground Railroad thrived.

With heavy lobbying by Southern politicians, the Compromise of 1850 was passed by Congress after the Mexican–American War. It stipulated a more stringent Fugitive Slave Law; ostensibly, the compromise addressed regional problems by compelling officials of free states to assist slave catchers, granting them immunity to operate in free states. Because the law required sparse documentation to claim a person was a fugitive, slave catchers also kidnapped free blacks, especially children, and sold them into slavery. Southern politicians often exaggerated the number of escaped slaves and often blamed these escapes on Northerners interfering with Southern property rights.

The law deprived suspected slaves of the right to defend themselves in court, making it difficult to prove free status. In a de facto bribe, judges were paid a higher fee of $10 for a decision that confirmed a suspect as a slave than for one ruling that the suspect was free. Many Northerners who might have ignored slave issues in the South were confronted by local challenges that bound them to support slavery. This was a primary grievance cited by the Union during the American Civil War, and the perception that the Northern States ignored the fugitive slave law was a major justification for secession.

The Underground Railroad inspired cultural works. For example, “Song of the Free”, written in 1860 about a man fleeing slavery in Tennessee by escaping to Canada, was composed to the tune of “Oh! Susanna”. Every stanza ends with a reference to Canada as the land “where colored men are free”. Slavery in Upper Canada was outlawed in 1793; in 1819, John Robinson, the Attorney General of Upper Canada, declared that by residing in Canada, black residents were set free and that Canadian courts would protect their freedom. Slavery in Canada as a whole had been in rapid decline after an 1803 court ruling and was finally abolished outright in 1834.

With the outbreak of the Civil War in the U.S., many black refugees left Canada to enlist in the Union Army. While some later returned to Canada, many remained in the United States. Thousands of others returned to the American South after the war ended. The desire to reconnect with friends and family was strong, and most were hopeful about the changes emancipation and Reconstruction would bring.

Black History Month is designed for you learn and know your history! So as our ancestors did keep you eye on the north star and free you mind and your ass will follow! And that is my thought provoking perspective…


The Making Of A Slave

3I wrote this piece some time ago, and as I look at the state of black America today, I found myself wondering, if as some proclaimed that a slave is born. I am not sure if I agree with this notion because a slave is made using a defined calculated method and a well thought-out plan devised for the purpose of being a beast of burden for reasons of economics. Frankly, that is what continues to happen in the lives of black people today.

We know the reasons for the un-Godly atrocity of slavery, which was to build a nation on the backs of human beings to obtain wealth. But what is not understood, en mass, is how it was designed to be sustainable, or that slavery did continue in varying forms over time and the relevance of the plan at work today is barely noticed and the root-cause has become little more than a footnote in history that seems to go unnoticed. For example, today’s prison system does the same thing to black people; who are over-represented in the prison system.

This reminds me of the powerful words Harriet Tubman expressed succinctly concerning the effectiveness of this system of mental conditioning. She was asked shortly before her death if she knew how many slaves she freed while conducting the Underground Railroad. She did not think about it, replying quickly, “I could have freed a lot more if they had only known they were slaves.”

From that infamous day in 1619, when it is believed the first Africans were dragged onto the shores of Jamestown to today where we’ve witnessed the first man of color elected President of these United States. Or as Jesse would put it – from the outhouse to the White House, there is no doubt that our story is the greatest story ever told.  As it was said in Scripture, “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” But let’s understand that there was a plan, a sinister master plan, conceived at some point to ensure that people of African descent remain the least of thee.

As the story goes, a British slave owner from the West Indies was invited to Virginia sometime during the year 1712 to teach his methods to slave owners. Willie Lynch was the name of the man credited with a speech delivered on the banks of the James River. It is noteworthy to mention that the James River was named for the diabolical King of England, who was ironically the same guy responsible for the twenty-eighth version of the cherished Holy Bible.

Lynch brought with him, as he put it, a foolproof method for controlling black slaves that will last for a thousand years. Consequently, it is believed the term “lynching” was derived from his last name as a way to pay homage to him for delivering this ingenious approach. The name Willie Lynch is interesting because it may be a simple play on words. For example, Will Lynch or Will he Lynch. Whatever the reason, it no doubt had significant psychological implications that played heavily on a naive race of people.

Lynch began his historic presentation with a warm greeting:

“Gentlemen, you know what your problems are; I do not need to elaborate. I am not here to enumerate your problems. I am here to introduce you to a method of solving them. In my bag here, I have a foolproof method for controlling your black slaves. I guarantee every one of you that if installed correctly it will control the slaves for at least three hundred years. My method is simple…The black slave after receiving this indoctrination shall carry on and will become self-refueling and self-generating for hundreds of years, maybe thousands….”

The seeds of devastation were fertilized, and the process of destruction was underway for making an entire race slaves for many generations to come. In the speech, Lynch outlined a number of differences among the slaves. He stressed to his audience that they should take these differences and make them bigger. These differences included such things as age, color, intelligence, fine hair vs. coarse hair, tall vs. short, male vs. female. These tactics were not new; however they were more than likely put together collectively for this specific purpose for the first time as keys to control.

This short eight paragraph speech was profound in that it was the embodiment of the cruelest demoralizing agenda ever imposed upon a people since the days when the Romans crucified our Lord. As Lynch closed his speech that day, he said, “They must love, respect, and trust only us.” This is the key to producing a successful strategy. Whether this story is true or not is cause for much speculation. However, as history demonstrates, a manufactured plan was developed by someone to achieve these results that continue to this day.

The Willie Lynch letter first appeared in the early 1970’s but gained widespread notice during the nineties, when it began appearing on the Internet. Since then, it has often been promoted as an authentic account of slavery during the 18th century, but its inaccuracies and anachronisms have led historians to conclude that it is a hoax. But let’s be honest, I don’t think any reasonable person would think that those persons present, if there was a meeting, took written notes. However, the same reasonable thinking person can see that there was a designed plan created by someone in order to sustain such division. It may have been something as simple as “divide and conquer.”

So let’s suppose the Willie Lynch story is a modern creation; either the concept was ingenious or the biggest urban myth ever. Either way, it begs the question, why are we still fighting amongst ourselves. Further, how can the ruling people, or anyone for that matter, justify a philosophy for building and maintaining a government that sanctioned murder, among other atrocities, to enslave human beings?  This I know, and mind you, I was not taught this in school nor did anyone explain that the government, through legislative sessions, passed laws to ensure that our bondage was sustained.

This wicked system was sanctioned by the church in the name of God. Therefore, it is important to understand, when the church endorsed slavery and the vehicle that drove it, this meant in the eyes of the system that God himself authorized this immoral agenda. If this was the mentality of the church, and it is a historical fact that religion sanctioned and justified enslaving people for centuries. It also begs the question, does that mentality still exist?

When I look at the uneven mass incarceration rate and overpopulation in the prison systems with mostly people of color; I don’t see much difference than the chains around one’s neck or on the wrists during slavery. It is important to note that you do not have to be in jail to be incarcerated in your mind. Therefore, I would ask, are you still a slave? And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Media Kit


Never Forget The Horror of Slavery

1

This is the sad horrible history the confederate flag lovers want to hold onto – slavery. The despicable history began on a August day in the year of our Lord 1619, a day that will live in infamy. It was the day the horrors of a particular heart-wrenching event that cemented black life into bondage and unimaginable struggle that lasted centuries. We must teach our children and never forget! So let’s journey back to the scene of the crime.

The Jamestown Colony, England’s first permanent settlement in North America, was a marshy wasteland, poor for agriculture, and a breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The settlement was such a harsh environment that only thirty-two of the estimated one hundred original settlers survived the first seven months. HIS-Story describes this as the “starving times,” but all would change.

On August 20, 1619, the first African “settlers” reached North America as cargo onboard a Dutch man-of-war ship that rode the tide into the shores of Jamestown, Virginia, carrying Captain Jope and a cargo of twenty Africans. It seems strange to me, but history cannot tell us why this mysterious ship anchored off Jamestown. It is believed the captain needed food and in exchange for food he offered his cargo of Africans as payment.

When the deal was consummated, Antoney, Isabella, and eighteen other Africans disembarked. Although they were not the first Africans to arrive in North America, they were the first African “settlers.” They were regarded as indentured servants rather than slaves; fifteen were purchased to serve their redemption time working for Sir George Yardley, the Governor of Virginia and proprietor of the thousand-acre Flowerdew Hundred Plantation. In ten years, by the 1630’s, the colony, through the use of the Africans, had established a successful economy based on tobacco.

Slavery was born, and the slave trade became big business. These human souls were acquired in Africa for an average price of about twenty-five dollars each, paid primarily in merchandise. They were sold in the Americas for about one hundred fifty dollars each. As the price of slaves increased, so did the inhumane overcrowding of the ships.

This was the beginning of the worst crime ever inflicted upon a people and the most morally reprehensible agenda the world has ever known. Adding to this injustice and more horrifying was that the perpetrators believed their actions were sanctioned by God with a religious manifestation that justified slavery. The next two-hundred years were a designed systematic effort to destroy millions of lives through indoctrination, brutality, savagery, and terror.

I am always struck by the use of the word civilization in this matter because the root word is “civil” and there was nothing civil about the institution of slavery. To be clear, a slave is chattel – a human being considered property and servant for life. The business of slave trading had one purpose – profit. The process would begin with an African being paid to venture into the interior of the continent, captured other Africans, put them on a death march to the coast and sell these captives to Europeans. Now, if stealing and capturing the victims was not misery enough, what was to follow surely was in every sense of the word.

This horrible journey, known as the “Middle Passage”, ended with a lifetime of bondage awaiting the captives at the end of the voyage. A typical slave ship traveling from Gambia, the Gold Coast, Guinea, or Senegal, would take four to eight weeks to reach New England, Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, or the West Indies. Women, men, and children were crammed so tightly in the cargo ships that out of a load of seven hundred, three or four would be found dead each morning. Africans from Senegal were the most prized commodity because many were skilled artisans. Ibos from Calabar were considered the most undesirable because of their high suicide rate.

Most ships had three decks with the lower two used for transporting slaves. The lowest deck extended the full length of the ship and was no more than five feet high. The captives were packed into tomb-like compartments side by side to utilize all available space. In the next deck, wooden planks like shelves extended from the sides of the ship where the slaves were chained in pairs at the wrists and ankles – crammed side by side. Men occupied middle shelves and were most often chained in pairs and bound to the ship’s gunwales or to ringbolts set into the deck. Women and children were sometimes allowed to move about certain areas of the ship.

A typical slave ship coming directly to the American mainland from Africa weighed about one to two hundred tons, although some were slightly larger. Slave ships were eventually built especially for human cargo. These slave ships could carry as many as four hundred slaves and a crew of forty-seven, as well as thirteen thousand pounds of food. They were long, narrow, fast, and designed to direct air below decks. Shackling irons, nets, and ropes were standard equipment.

The competition at slave markets on the African coast grew so exceptionally that historians estimate that as many as 60 million human souls were captured and taken from the continent of Africa to be sold into bondage. It is estimated that as many as one-third of that number did not survive the “Middle Passage” to reach the shores of a place like Jamestown.

Did you know the first registered slave ship was named “The Good Ship Jesus,” and in the name of God the greatest crime the world has known began in this place called Jamestown? The devastating effects of bondage would have an effect on the race of people for centuries.

I will continue to pray that we will be able, one day, to join hands and sing that old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


An American Shame

“Disclaimer: This piece is long but it is knowledge everyone should know.”

2There have been many ways to suppress people over time; unfortunately, African Americans have endured the brunt of these efforts. As we know, the history of America reports that it was not only African American’s who were subjected or affected by these efforts. What I can report is that it was always a minority affected by these laws meant to ensure a permanent underclass.

This ideology began as indentured servants, then slavery, segregation, and now could it be conservatism. In each of these classifications there was a design called laws Black Codes, which I suppose make these immoral sanctions sound gentler. The truth is the sole purpose was to suppression rights. Kinda like the agenda behind the States Rights dog-whistles we hear today.

Black Codes were laws passed designed specifically to take away civil rights and civil liberties of African American on the state and local levels. This is the reason Conservatives desire a return to “States Rights” and speak of taking back their country because at the state level they can be unimpeded in turning back the hands of time.

Although, most of the discriminatory legislation, in terms of Black Codes, were used more often by Southern states to control the labor, movements and activities of newly freed slaves at the end of the Civil War. But as Malcolm X once said, “Anywhere south of Canada was south” meaning wherever you were in America you were subjected to discrimination in terms of the “separate but equal” laws, which was the law of the land.

The Black Codes of the 1860’s are not the same as the Jim Crow laws. The Black Codes were in reaction to the abolition of slavery and the South’s defeat in the Civil War. Southern legislatures enacted them during Reconstruction. The Jim Crow era began later, nearer to the end of the 19th century after Reconstruction, with its unwritten laws.

Then there were sundown laws, which meant Blacks, could not live or be caught in certain towns after dark. In some cases, signs were placed at the town’s borders with statements similar to the one posted in Hawthorne California that read “Nigger, Don’t Let The Sun Set On YOU In Hawthorne” in the 1930’s. In some cases, exclusions were official town policy, restrictive covenants, or the policy was enforced through intimidation.

After the abolition of slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prior to that African Americans were considered 3/5’s human. Therefore, all former slave states adopted Black Codes. During 1865 every Southern state passed Black Codes that restricted the Freemen, who were emancipated but not yet full citizens. While they pursued re-admission to the Union, the Southern states provided freedmen with limited second-class civil rights and no voting rights. Southern plantation owners feared that they would lose their land. Having convinced themselves that slavery was justified, planters feared African Americans wouldn’t work without coercion. The Black Codes were an attempt to control them and to ensure they did not claim social equality.

The Black Codes outraged public opinion in the North because it seemed the South was creating a form of quasi-slavery to evade the results of the war. After winning large majorities in the 1866 elections, the Republicans put the South under military rule. They held new elections in which the Freedmen could vote. Suffrage was also expanded to poor whites. The new governments repealed all the Black Codes; they were never reenacted – OFFICALLY.

Many of these things are unknown to the generations of today because these injustices have been erased from our history and very little of it is taught in today’s classroom. For example, a sundown town was a town that was all white on purpose. The term was widely used in the United States and Canada in areas from Ohio to Oregon and well into the South. Even in Canada many towns in Southern Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec, were sundown towns prior to 1982, when it was outlawed. The term came from signs that were allegedly posted stating that people of color had to leave the town by sundown. They were also sometimes known as “sunset towns” or “gray towns”. Let me ask if you have ever been to a million dollar community – sound familiar.

The black codes that were enacted immediately after the Civil War, though varying from state to state, were all intended to secure a steady supply of cheap labor and all continued to assume the inferiority of the freed slaves. The black codes had their roots in the slave codes that had formerly been in effect. The premise behind chattel slavery in America was that slaves were property, and, as such, they had few or no legal rights. The slave codes, in their many loosely defined forms, were seen as effective tools against slave unrest, particularly as a hedge against uprisings and runaways. Enforcement of slave codes also varied, but corporal punishment was widely and harshly employed.

Let me highlight this example: In Texas, the Eleventh Legislature produced these codes in 1866. The intent of the legislation was to reaffirm the inferior position that slaves and free blacks had held in antebellum Texas and to regulate black labor. The codes reflected the unwillingness of white Texans to accept blacks as equals. You do remember “Juneteenth”? In addition, the Texans also feared that freedmen would not work unless coerced. Thus the codes continued legal discrimination between whites and blacks. The legislature, when it amended the 1856 penal code, emphasized the continuing line between whites and blacks by defining all individuals with one-eighth or more African blood as persons of color, subject to special provisions in the law.

Minorities were systematically excluded from living in or sometimes even passing through these communities after the sun went down. This allowed maids and workmen to provide unskilled labor during the day. Sociologists have described this as the nadir of American race relations. Sundown towns existed throughout the nation, but most often were located in the northern states that were not pre-Civil War slave states. There have not been any de jure sundown towns in the country since legislation in the 1960’s was inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, although de facto sundown towns and counties, where no black family lives – still exist.

Therefore, we see hints of it in the racism that has raised its ugly head and risen to the surface of society’s consciousness, particularly in this political climate. Since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and especially since the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibited racial discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing, the number of sundown towns has decreased.

However, as sociologist suggest it is impossible to precisely count the number of sundown towns at any given time, because most towns have not kept records of the ordinances or signs that marked the town’s sundown status. It is important to note that sundown status meant more than just African Americans not being able to live in these towns. Essentially any African Americans or other groups who came into sundown towns after sundown were subject to harassment, threats, and violent acts; up to and including lynching.

As one historian has noted, “Racial segregation was hardly a new phenomenon because slavery had fixed the status of most blacks, no need was felt for statutory measures segregating the races. These restrictive Black Codes have morphed in one form or another to achieve its desired effect to maintain a superior status by the powers that be. I am only suggesting that we know and understand history for it will open the mind to what the future may present.

Frankly, if you don’t know where you came from you will never get to where you are going. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective!!!


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