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The Southern Myth – How Slavery Became Pleasant

I remember this from my segregated primary school 3rd Grade textbook, which is the one mentioned in the article below. When I first attended an integrated school in 7th Grade, the textbook in the previously all white school quoted almost verbatim the Southern Myth about slavery. My refusal to be tested and graded on anything which was gross historical lie, or to sit in class while it was being taught caused a bit of an uproar. I actually remember one white girl saying in class how well the slaves were treated, and how happy they were…That lasted up until I mentioned Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner (We didn’t know about Gabriel Prosser yet as much of what would become Black History had been erased from the textbooks and had to be rediscovered). and The teacher challenged me to provide material which contravened the information in the “official” Virginia History Book. My Dad, a historian had just completed a book on black history, replete with all the research and documentation from places like the Library of Congress…

I provided said information.

The Daughters of the Confederacy weren’t the last to attempt to rewrite History…Right wingers in Texas have even tried to erase figures like Cesar Chavez and the existence of black contributions to America. So the battle is ongoing.

Welcome to America. I now own your ass.

How Dixie’s History Got Whitewashed

The United Daughters of the Confederacy were once a powerful force in public education across the South, right down to rewriting history: slaves were happy, y’all.

Earlier this week Vanderbilt University announced that it would remove the word “Confederate” from the stone pediment at the entrance to a campus dormitory known as Memorial Hall. The decision brings to a close a long-standing dispute between the university and the Tennessee division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which provided the funds for the construction of the building and claimed naming rights in 1933. As part of the agreement, the school will pay the UDC $1.2 million or the present value of their initial $50,000 donation. This decision is the latest in a string of high-profile moves to remove Confederate iconography from public and private places as well as a reflection of the UDC’s long decline.

The women who founded the UDC in 1894 were committed to preserving and defending the memory of  Confederate soldiers and their cause. By World War I, membership in the UDC had reached roughly 100,000. While chapters were eventually established throughout the country, they remained most influential in the South, where they organized Decoration Day ceremonies, monument dedications, and raised money to support veterans in their old age. Their most important function, however, was the overseeing of how history was taught to the next generation on the high school and college levels. Students were expected to assume the responsibility of defending their ancestors once the generation that lived through the war had died. They did this primarily by authorizing textbooks for classroom use and rejecting those they deemed to be a threat to the memory of the Confederate soldier.

The UDC promoted histories that celebrated the Confederate cause by praising leaders like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and ignoring or re-interpreting the central cause of the war, namely slavery. Consider Susan Pendleton Lee’s 1895 textbook, A School History of the United States, in which she declared that although abolitionists had declared slavery to be a “moral wrong,” most Southerners believed that “the evils connected with it were less than those of any other system of labor.” “Hundreds of thousands of African savages,” according to the author, “had been Christianized under its influence—the kindest relations existed between the slaves and their owners.” It should come as no surprise that in her account of Reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan was necessary “for protection against . . . outrages committed by misguided negroes.”

By the first decade of the 20th century and with the encouragement of the UDC, most Southern states established textbook commissions to oversee and recommend books for all public schools that provided a “fair and impartial” interpretation. These committees worked diligently to challenge publishers who stood to threaten the South’s preferred story of the war: “Southern schools and Southern teachers have prepared books which Southern children may read without insult or traduction of their fathers. Printing presses all over the Southland—and all over the Northland—are sending forth by thousands ones which tell the true character of the heroic struggle. The influence . . . of the South forbid[s] longer the perversion of truth and falsification of history.”…

…The effort made by the UDC to control history textbooks paid off immeasurably and continued to shape how Americans remembered the Civil War well into the 20th century. As late as the ’70s, the state of Virginia still used the popular textbook Virginia: History, Government, Geography by Francis B. Simkins, Spotswood H. Jones, and Sidman P. Poole, first published in 1957. Its chapter on slavery—“How the Negroes Lived under Slavery”—featured a well-dressed African-American family on board a ship shaking hands with a white man, who is presumed to be the family’s new owner. Here is how it describes slavery:

A feeling of strong affection existed between masters and slaves in a majority of Virginia homes . . . The house servants became almost as much a part of the planter’s family circle as its white members . . . The Negroes were always present at family weddings. They were allowed to look on at dances and other entertainments . . . A strong tie existed between slave and master because each was dependent on the other …  The slave system demanded that the master care for the slave in childhood, in sickness, and in old age. The regard that master and slaves had for each other made plantation life happy and prosperous.  Life among the Negroes of Virginia in slavery times was generally happy. The Negroes went about in a cheerful manner making a living for themselves and for those for whom they worked . . . But they were not worried by the furious arguments going on between Northerners and Southerners over what should be done with them. In fact, they paid little attention to these arguments.

My Dad always argued that black folks were the first non-Asian people to reach the Americas from Africa. He had visited Mexico and seen the statues of the Olmecs who ruled parts of what is now Mexico and Central America in 1700 BC. It is only about 1,000 miles by sea at the closest point between Africa and South America aided by the “Westerlies”. He believed that the great trading period starting about 7th Century was actually the second or third rise of trade and exploration in West Africa. Indeed it is now known as a result of that second/third trade period that the first known African migrated to live in England in the 13th Century, and there may have been trade between North Africa and Europe as early as the Vikings.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2016 in Black History, The New Jim Crow

 

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Black Chumph “Historian”

Its hard out there for even black, well educated folks to get work. The fall of the white middle class, folks who presumably are the core of Chumph’s ever shrinking “legions”, was bad for white folks…But devastating for the black middle class.

I mean – if there is any group in America who should be angry and start blowing isht up…It ain’t the inbred white cretins who slavishly follow the Chumph.

The Washington, DC area has been a mecca for black folks for generations. The area supports what is probably the largest black middle class in the country.

For some reason the region also seems to attack that sub-fractional subset of morally repugnant, mentally deficient, Lawn ornament, black conservatives. Uncle Wally “confederate” Williams, Crystal “Wrong” Wright, Snidely Whiplash AKA  Peter N. Kirsanow who sits on the scurrilous US Civil Rights Commission, the infamous neurosurgeon who filled the Herman Cain seat for racism denial on the Presidential Primary platform…And this chump – Derek Boyd Hankerson.

Mythical Black Confederates have been a hot topic for slavery denial types and neo-confederate racists for a while.

Mythical…Because there quite simply weren’t any.

Prior to the Civil War, there were three areas of the country with large free black populations. Those would have been Virginia, the area around New Orleans, and North Carolina – where 80% of the free black folks lived.

So…Since Slavers (AKA confederates) weren’t real keen on giving guns to slaves (geez…I wonder why) – If there were to be any Black confederates, they would have had to come from the “free” population. Problem with that is, starting about 1840 all of the slave states started passing laws, called the Black Codes – in an attempt to drive free blacks out. The area I live in currently, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia had one of, if not the largest free black landowning populations in the country in 1840…By 1860, they were all gone. Part of the Black Codes prohibited free black folks from owning guns.

Some of these Laws –

1840 –  “Black Codes” are established in South Carolina. Under these codes, enslaved African-Americans are unable to gather in groups, earn money, grow crops independently, learn to read and own high-quality clothing.

1841 – Residents of Texas are given the responsibility of catching runaway slaves and then, alerting local law enforcement.

1842 – Georgia lawmakers declare that they will not consider freed African-Americans as citizens.

1844 – North Carolina pass a law declaring it will not recognize freed African-Americans as citizens.

Almost every slave state made it illegal for a free black to move into the state, and all of the slave states with ocean ports passed laws requiring the incarceration of any free black sailor who entered the state while serving on a ship. South Carolina set the standard for such laws in 1822 by requiring that ship captains bring their black sailors to the local jail, where they would be held for a fee until the ship was ready to set sail. If the fees were not paid, the black sailor would be auctioned off for temporary service and then expelled from the state. Similar rules applied to emancipated slaves. By 1860 most of the eleven states that formed the Confederacy prohibited the emancipation of slaves within their jurisdiction. Thus, if a master wanted to free his slaves he had to remove them from the state, either before emancipating them or immediately afterwards.

Southern states also prohibited free blacks from engaging in professions that might enable them to foster or aid slave revolts. Thus free blacks could not be pharmacists, gunsmiths, printers or publishers, or operate taverns or places of entertainment. Mississippi made it a crime for blacks to even work for printing offices. Georgia prohibited free blacks from being masons or mechanics, or from contracting to build or repair houses. Most of the slave states prohibited free blacks from learning to read or write. They could also be severely punished for owning antislavery literature. Under a Mississippi law of 1830, whites who circulated “seditious pamphlets,” which would have included antislavery pamphlets, could be jailed, but free blacks were to be executed for the same offense. In 1842, Virginia made it a felony for free blacks to receive abolitionist material in the mail….

The point being – unarmed, prohibited from crossing state borders, locked out of numerous professions, and liable to be re-enslaved at any moment…

Yeah – those free black folks were highly motivated to fight to perpetuate a cause, and a bunch of folks who didn’t even recognize them as citizens.

Now I am a published amateur historian, who focuses on the Virginia North Carolina area. After years of research, uncovering a lot of interesting stuff about life in the Antebellum South, myself, and my far more established and educated compatriots have only ever been able to find one (1) so called Black confederate in the State of Virginia. And we aren’t even terribly sure he was actually…

Black. He shared a surname with a large black family in central Virginia, which led to the assumption by some early researchers (Uncle Wallie Williams) that he was black. However, further research, including DNA shows no relationship, and the family whose surname was besmirched does not, and never has claimed him as kin. Indeed, when the super-racist Walter Plecker conducted a campaign of racial terrorism in the 1930s to positively identify who was actually black, white, or Native American in Virginia – said “black confederate’s” family came up as white.

Ooops!

With that in mind..On to the Chumph’s Lawn Jockey (And Lawn Ornament of the Month) – Know your enemy.

Meet the historian and civil war ‘truther’ responsible for helping Trump win the Florida primary

Derek Boyd Hankerson is an African American university lecturer, filmmaker, author, and political operative. He’s also a Donald Trump supporter. Pledging his support for Trump last year, Hankerson served as Trump’s Northeast Florida Field Director. He helped Trump win “sixty-six of sixty-seven counties in Florida,” he told HNN.

Just who is this African American who backs Donald Trump?  The media have identifiedhim as a historian in their accounts, though he lacks a degree in history.  He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science in 1991 from the University of Maryland College Park. In 2007 he earned his Masters in Business Administration from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.

But he has co-authored a history book, Belonging: The Civil War’s South We Never Knew.  The book makes the astonishing claim that blacks in large numbers fought for the South during the Civil War, a myth advanced by white racist groups that long ago was debunked by historians. Hankerson is the descendant of slaves.  His coauthor, Judith Shearer, is the scion of a family that owned slaves.

So who is Derek Boyd Hankerson?

Raised in Prince Georges County, Maryland, Hankerson developed a strong passion for history at the early age of ten years old. When he was young, he frequently took trips to the South with his family, where he visited historical sites and learned history about his West African Gullah Geechee ancestry and the Underground Railroad.

One trip to Saint Augustine forever changed his outlook on history, making him question the accuracy of conventional learning he received from textbooks. He had been taught that St. Augustine was founded in 1513, but a historical sign he saw on his visit listed the city’s founding year as 1565. In the history books he had read neither St. Augustine nor Florida had been mentioned in connection with the founding of European settlements. He was taught the first settlements were in Jamestown and Plymouth.

The Confederate Flag Conspiracy:

Is this Chumph’s boy?

He began to wonder – “What else are people hiding?”

In his twenties he was a political operative in the Reagan administration. His political resume includes working in the White House under both President George Herbert Walker Bush and George W. Bush.  In one stint he served in the White House Office of Public Liaison for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  He also worked on campaigns for governors and senators.

Which brings us back to Donald Trump.  For all the officials he’s worked for, Hankerson says no one has had quite the same appeal for him as Trump. What drew him to Trump is the candidate’s background as a businessman and his stance as an outsider. A Washington insider himself, Hankerson said he is tired of self-seeking politicians. Ideologically, he strongly identifies with Trump’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Common Core and the outsourcing of jobs.

Hankerson is currently in Wisconsin working on the campaign of a businessman who’schallenging House Speaker Paul Ryan in the GOP primary. In the political off-season Hankerson devotes himself to teaching, filmmaking, and writing.

His book, Belonging: The Civil War’s South We Never Knew, is on sale on Amazon, but has received no reviews.  There are also no blurbs.  In an interview with HNN over email he insisted that blacks fought for the South:

“I’ve personally had 30 members of my family who are native to the south and fought to protect their homes and farms. I also have family members who fought for the north to include the family’s 54th Mass. These relatives in the south were part of Calvary units, sharp shooters, officers (mulatto), infantry and reserves. It’s a misnomer or incorrect history in believing blacks didn’t fight for the south when the majority or 80 percent of black people are originally from the south and most arrived pre-1800 or pre-mass immigration. To classify them as coward is false.”

Those who believe blacks fought in the Confederacy (at least voluntarily) are in a small minority. Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University and an expert in African American history, dismisses claims like Hankerson’s, which rest on the belief that slavery wasn’t the cause of the Civil War:

This is a picture of the 1st Louisiana Guard.They were actually founded as a confederate militia by free blacks to protect the City of New Orleans…Until the confederate General refused to recognize them as legitimate troops. They promptly changed sides and became the the foundation of the 1st US Colored Troops fighting for the Union in the West.

“Slavery, as Southern Vice President Alexander Stephens put it, was ‘the cornerstone’ of the Confederacy. This does not mean that it was the only issue contributing to the coming of the Civil War. Nor does it suggest that the hundreds of thousands of men who fought under the Confederate banner, most of them non-slaveholders, were motivated exclusively by the desire to keep blacks in bondage. Yet to claim that Confederate soldiers went to war to protect their ‘way of life’ conveniently forgets that this way of life was founded on slavery.”

“Slaves fully understood this,” says Foner. “A few light-skinned blacks may have passed for white and joined the Southern Army. But the regiments of black Confederate troops one hears about of late exist only in myth or in the willful confusion of the Army’s black servants and laborers–slaves impressed into service by their masters–with combat soldiers. The reality is that hundreds of thousands of slaves eagerly sought their freedom by fleeing to Union lines and enlisting in the Union Army.”

Scholars have conceded that up to 50,000 slaves labored for the Confederacy and that some blacks actually fought for the Confederacy.  Harvard’s John Stauffer says the number of black soldiers was somewhere between 3,000 and 10,000. But he points out that that would have been less than 1 percent of the black men living in the South of military age.  Even this modest admission, he says, has gotten him into hot water with other scholars….Read the rest here

Black Conservative Jock Strap Award

Lawn Jockey black Republican of the Month Award – Derek Boyd Hankerson

 

 

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On Black Lives Matter and Israel

WhatTF is going on at BLM?

While Israel isn’t anyone but Israel’s friend – why take this on?

I seems to be a diversion which does more damage than good.

I am an old-timer – so let me put it this way. WhereTF has ANY Arab/Muslim Country stood up for any oppressed minority other than fellow Muslims ANYWHERE in the world? During the First Civil Rights struggle (we are now in the second) which of same countries said a damn thing?

I mean, the first thing every Arab group did immigrating to this country was have themselves declared “white” by law. That scheme fell apart badly with the response to International terrorism, and it has only been in the last 15 years or so that anyone from the Arab world gave a fuck about black and brown people dying in the streets here…After racism and bigotry made them “other”, and the same guns and bullets began killing them as unwanted brown people.

I mean…Thank You for the efforts over the last 15 years, by those who have immigrated here and become Americans.

The rise of the Chumph and his right wingdizzies is in part a full-on effort to rescind Jewish people’s “white cards” as part of their scheme to “Make America White Again”.

So why step toe in that foreign water full of sharks – none of whom give a single fuck about American black folks.

This one was written by Alan M. Dershowitz, who besides having been one of the top Lawyers in the country,  is professor emeritus of law at Harvard University and author of “Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law.’’

Black Lives Matter must rescind anti-Israel declaration

It is a real tragedy that Black Lives Matter — which has done so much good in raising awareness of police abuses — has now moved away from its central mission and has declared war against the nation state of the Jewish people. In a recently issued “platform,” more than 60 groups that form the core of the Black Lives Matter movement went out of their way to single out one foreign nation to accuse of genocide and apartheid.

No, it wasn’t the Syrian government, which has killed tens of thousands of innocent people with barrel bombs, chemicals, and gas. Nor was it Saudi Arabia, which openly practices gender and religious apartheid. It wasn’t Iran, which hangs gays and murders dissidents. It wasn’t China, which has occupied Tibet for more than half a century. And it wasn’t Turkey, which has imprisoned journalists, judges, and academics. Finally, it wasn’t any of the many countries, such as Venezuela or Mexico, where police abuses against innocent people run rampant and largely unchecked. Nor was it the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, where the police are a law unto themselves who act as judge, jury and executioner of those whose politics or religious practices they disapprove.

It was only Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people and the only democracy in the Middle East. The platform accuses the US of being “complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people” by providing aid to “an apartheid state.”

To be sure, Black Lives Matter is not a monolithic organization. It is a movement comprising numerous groups. Many of its supporters have no idea what the platform says. They cannot be faulted for supporting the movement or its basic mission. But the platform is the closest thing to a formal declaration of principles by Black Lives Matter. The genocide paragraph may well have been injected by radicals who are not representative of the mainstream. But now that it has officially been published, all decent supporters of Black Lives Matter — and there are many — must demand its removal.

Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic. Like other democracies, including our own, it has faults. Criticizing Israel’s settlement and occupation policies is fair game. But singling Israel out and falsely accusing it of “genocide” can be explained in no other way than blatant hatred of Jews and their state.

In defending its citizens against terrorism since before its establishment as a state in 1948, Israel has killed fewer Palestinians than did Jordan and Syria in two much shorter wars. The relatively low number of civilian deaths caused by Israeli self-defense measures over the past 68 years compares favorably to the number of civilian deaths in other conflicts. This is because, as Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, put it: There has been “no time in the history of warfare when an Army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties…than [the Israel Defense Forces].” Though Kemp was specifically referring to the wars in the Gaza Strip — which are also the apparent focus of the Black Lives Matter Platform — his conclusion is applicable to all wars Israel has fought.

Genocide means the deliberate extermination of a race, such as done by Nazi Germany to Jews and Sinti and Roma or by the Hutu against the Tutsi in Rwanda. It has no application to deaths caused by self-defense measures taken to protect citizens against terrorism. To falsely accuse Israel of “genocide” — the worst crime of all, and the crime whose very name was coined to describe the systematic murder of 6 million Jews — is anti-Semitic.

Until and unless Black Lives Matter removes this blood libel from its platform and renounces it, no decent person — black, white, or of any other racial or ethnic background — should have anything to do with it. We should continue to fight against police abuses by supporting other organizations or forming new ones. But we must not become complicit in the promotion of anti-Semitism just because we agree with the rest of the Black Lives Matter program.

To support an organization or movement that promotes anti-Semitism because it also supports good causes is the beginning of the road to accepting racism. Many racist groups have also promoted causes that deserve support. The Black Panthers had breakfast programs for inner-city children, while advocating violence against whites. And the Ku Klux Klan organized summer camps for working-class families, while advocating violence against blacks.

There must be zero tolerance for anti-Semitism, regardless of the race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation of the bigots who promote, practice or are complicit with it. Being on the right side of one racial issue does not give one a license to be on the wrong side of the oldest bigotry.

To give Black Lives Matter a pass on its anti-Jewish bigotry would be to engage in racism. Black anti-Semitism is as inexcusable as white anti-Semitism or white racism. There can be no double standard when it comes to bigotry.

I write this column both in sorrow and in anger. In sorrow because I support the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement — I have long been involved in efforts to expose and prevent police abuses — and worry that this obnoxious and divisionary platform plank may destroy its credibility with regard to police abuse in America by promoting deliberate lies about Israel. It is also alienating Jewish and other supporters who could help them achieve their goals here at home — as many such individuals have historically done in actively supporting all aspects of the civil rights movement.

I write it in anger because there is never an excuse for bigotry and for promoting blood libels against the Jewish people and their state. It must stop. And those who engage in it must be called out for condemnation.

Black Lives Matter should rescind the portions of the platform that falsely accuse Israel of genocide and apartheid. If it does not, it risks ending in the dustbin of history, along with other discredited bigoted groups.

It would be sad if the good work done by Black Lives Matter were now to be sidetracked by the mendacious and irrelevant accusation of “genocide” and “apartheid” against one foreign democracy — Israel.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2016 in Black History, BlackLivesMatter

 

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Black Folks Built the White House…And the Capital Too!

Michelle Obama mentioned that slaves built the White House  and the Fu News Moron crew goes crazy!

Fox host has white hot meltdown because Michelle Obama said slaves built the White House

Michelle Obama may have spoken Monday night, but Fox News Radio host John Gibson was so overwhelmed he had to unleash his rage in a blog post this afternoon.

During her speech, Obama addressed the “shame of servitude,” referencing the history of American slavery. “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves — and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn. And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters — and all our sons and daughters — now take for granted that a woman can be President of the United States.”

Gibson couldn’t take it, according to Fusion. “A couple relevant facts,” he began. “It was 1792. The land for the District of Columbia was ceded to the federal government by two slave states. Slaves lived in the area and were employed in building much of the capitol. What, then, is the purpose of appropriating the construction of the White House to black slave workers, neglecting to mention other workers?”

Slaves, of course, were never “workers” in the sense that they were paid a living wage, allowed to quit whenever they want, had rights and could go home at the end of a long day. The history of America was built on the forced migration and forced labor of people of color that were enslaved by wealthy whites. To associate it with free white workers diminishes the horror they faced.

Gibson says that there were just as many white workers as slaves working on the White House when it was constructed. That’s outright false. The White House Historical Association verifies that there were indeed white workers, but the vast majority of the workers were black people, who were both slave and free. This was in large part due to problems finding enough white workers willing and able to do the work.

Bad News Fau Moron…Slaves indeed built the white House, the Capital Building, and a number of other Government buildings in Washington, DC. Most of the skilled workers at that time were slaves.

The White House Was, in Fact, Built by Slaves

Along with the Capitol and other iconic buildings in Washington, D.C.

…Up until a few decades ago, little attention was paid to looking into who actually laid the foundations and put up the walls of the White House. But what documentation exists today shows that many of Washington, D.C.’s most iconic government buildings, including the White House, were built by slaves.

In 2005, Congress put together a task force to shed light on the subject. After months of research, the commission announced that while it would never be able to tell the full story of the slaves who built these buildings, there was no doubt that they were intricately involved in the work, Alexander Lane reported for PolitiFact.

“Indifference by by earlier historians, poor record keeping, and the silence of the voiceless classes have impeded our ability in the twenty-first century to understand fully the contributions and privations of those who toiled over the seven decades from the first cornerstone laying to the day of emancipation in the District of Columbia,” Senate Historian Richard Baker and Chief of the House of Representatives Office of History and Preservation Kenneth Kato wrote in a foreword to the report.

From a geographical standpoint alone, it should come as no surprise that slave laborers were used to build the nation’s capital. Washington, D.C., was built on landed ceded to the federal government by Virginia and Maryland, and at the time the Potomac region was home to almost half of the country’s 750,000 slaves, Lane reports.

While the White House Historical Association reports that the D.C. commissioners originally tried to bring cheap workers over from Europe to build the new capital, their recruitment efforts fell short. As a result, they forced local slaves to provide the labor, often renting workers from their masters for year-long periods of time.

“Slaves were likely involved in all aspects of construction, including carpentry, masonry, carting, rafting, plastering, glazing and painting, the task force reported,” Lane writes. “And slaves appear to have shouldered alone the grueling work of sawing logs and stones.”

image: http://thumbs.media.smithsonianmag.com//filer/34/bd/34bd3b1b-c277-4f41-9a79-75e17bd66bb3/african-americans-1790s.jpg__800x450_q85_crop_upscale.jpg

The payroll to slaveowners shows that the government did not own slaves, but that it did hire them from their masters. Slave carpenters Ben, Daniel, and Peter were noted as owned by James Hoban.

The payroll to slaveowners shows that the government did not own slaves, but that it did hire them from their masters. Slave carpenters Ben, Daniel, and Peter were noted as owned by James Hoban. (National Archives and Records Administration)

In addition to constructing the buildings, slaves also worked the quarries where the stones for the government buildings came from. Ironically, the Statue of Freedom that sits atop the Capitol dome was made with the help of Philip Reid, a man enslaved by sculptor Thomas Crawford, who was commissioned to build the statue. According to the Architect of the Capitol, Reid was paid $1.25 a day by the federal government for his contributions.

“There is no telling how many stories that have been lost because, as a country, we didn’t value these stories,” historian and reporter Jesse J. Holland tells Smithsonian.com. “We’re always learning more about the presidents as we go forward and we’ll also learn more about the people who cooked their meals and dressed them.”

 

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2016 in Black History

 

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Those Forgotten Lyrics in the Star Spangled Banner

Few people know that there are other verses to the National Anthem. One of those verses is quite racist and belies the idea of Freedom for All Men.

In the War of 1812, the British, as they had done in the Revolutionary War, recruited black soldiers with the promise of freedom. Many of these soldiers were slaves, who escaped from the Plantation to fight for their freedom. IN the War of 1812, one of those groups specifically were the Royal Marines, who kicked regnant colonial ass across Maryland to sack the Capital, Washington, DC. Among the recipients of said butt kicking was a Lieutenant in the Colonial forces at The Battle of Bladensburg, Maryland…One Francis Scott Key.

An American depiction of the Battle of Bladensburg, all the black faces in Redcoat are erased.

Star-Spangled Bigotry: The Hidden Racist History of the National Anthem

Most people don’t know there’s more than one verse to the national anthem, and it’s the third that’s a doozy.

Aericans generally get a failing grade when it comes to knowing our “patriotic songs.” I know more people who can recite “America, F–k Yeah” from Team America than “America the Beautiful.” “Yankee Doodle”? No one older than a fifth-grader in chorus class remembers the full song. “God Bless America”? More people know the Rev. Jeremiah Wright remix than the actual full lyrics of the song. Most black folks don’t even know “the black national anthem.” (There’s a great story about Bill Clinton being at an NAACP meeting where he was the only one who knew it past the first line. Bill Clinton: Woke in the ’90s.)

In the case of our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” perhaps not knowing the full lyrics is a good thing. It is one of the most racist, pro-slavery, anti-black songs in the American lexicon, and you would be wise to cut it from your Fourth of July playlist.

“The Star-Spangled Banner,” as most Americans know it, is only a couple of lines. In fact, if you look up the song on Google, only the most famous lyrics pop up on Page 1:

Oh say can you see,
By the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed,
At the twilight’s last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched,
Were so gallantly streaming.

And thy rocket’s red glare,
Thy bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through thee night,
That our flag was still there.

Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

The story, as most of us are told, is that Francis Scott Key was a prisoner on a British ship during the War of 1812 and wrote this poem while watching the American troops battle back the invading British in Baltimore. That—as is the case with 99 percent of history that is taught in public schools and regurgitated by the mainstream press—is less than half the story.

To understand the full “Star-Spangled Banner” story, you have to understand the author. Key was an aristocrat and city prosecutor in Washington, D.C. He was, like most enlightened men at the time, not against slavery; he just thought that since blacks were mentally inferior, masters should treat them with more Christian kindness. He supported sending free blacks (not slaves) back to Africa and, with a few exceptions, was about as pro-slavery, anti-black and anti-abolitionist as you could get at the time.

Of particular note was Key’s opposition to the idea of the Colonial Marines. The Marines were a battalion of runaway slaves who joined with the British Royal Army in exchange for their freedom. The Marines were not only a terrifying example of what slaves would do if given the chance, but also a repudiation of the white superiority that men like Key were so invested in.

All of these ideas and concepts came together around Aug. 24, 1815, at the Battle of Bladensburg, where Key, who was serving as a lieutenant at the time, ran into a battalion of Colonial Marines. His troops were taken to the woodshed by the very black folks he disdained, and he fled back to his home in Georgetown to lick his wounds. The British troops, emboldened by their victory in Bladensburg, then marched into Washington, D.C., burning the Library of Congress, the Capitol Building and the White House. You can imagine that Key was very much in his feelings seeing black soldiers trampling on the city he so desperately loved.

A few weeks later, in September of 1815, far from being a captive, Key was on a British boat begging for the release of one of his friends, a doctor named William Beanes. Key was on the boat waiting to see if the British would release his friend when he observed the bloody battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore on Sept. 13, 1815. America lost the battle but managed to inflict heavy casualties on the British in the process. This inspired Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” right then and there, but no one remembers that he wrote a full third stanza decrying the former slaves who were now working for the British army:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

In other words, Key was saying that the blood of all the former slaves and “hirelings” on the battlefield will wash away the pollution of the British invaders. With Key still bitter that some black soldiers got the best of him a few weeks earlier, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is as much a patriotic song as it is a diss track to black people who had the audacity to fight for their freedom. Perhaps that’s why it took almost 100 years for the song to become the national anthem.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2016 in Black History

 

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Black History of the Revolutionary War

Only took about 200 years to recognize that Crispus Attucks as one of the first to fall at the brewing revolution to form America. SO why are we surprised it has taken another 50 to recognize the contribution of black folks, both slave and free to the Revolution?

The Secret Black History of the Revolution

As we know all too well, the Revolutionary War was not fought so that all men could be free, but its role in creating the seeds of abolition should not be forgotten.

The 1st Rhode Island Regiment was a Continental Army regiment during the American Revolutionary War. The 1st Rhode Island Regiment became known as the “Black Regiment” due to its allowing the recruitment of African Americans in 1778.

A central myth of American history teaching is that the American Revolution was fought for the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” of each person. By each, Jefferson sadly meant mainly white farmers. This patriotic myth—what I call a Founding Amnesia—drove Frederick Douglass, in 1852, to declare that the Fourth of July was not for slaves. 

But perhaps in contrast to its long history of racist exclusion, the Daughters of the American Revolution should first honor black Patriots. As Georg Daniel Flohr, a German private who fought at the decisive battle Yorktown with the French Royal Deux-Ponts for the Patriots, noted while walking around the field of battle the next day: “all over the place and wherever you looked, corpses… lying about that had not been buried; the larger part of these were Mohren [Moors, blacks].”

And as I emphasize in Black Patriots and Loyalists (2012), the acme of freedom in the American Revolution was the gradual emancipation of slaves in Vermont (not yet a state) in 1777, in Pennsylvania in 1780, in Massachusetts in 1782, in Connecticut and Rhode Island in 1784, in New York in 1799, and in New Jersey in 1804. If we ask the central question in American history: how did there come to be a free North to oppose bondage in the Civil War, the answer is, surprisingly: gradual emancipation during and just after the American Revolution. Thus, black Patriots and their white abolitionist allies played a central, undiscussed role both in battle and in the deepening of American freedom.

Finally, why did the man believed to be the first martyr of the American Revolution, Crispus Attucks, an escaped slave of black and Native American parentage who became a sailor, fiercely take on the Redcoats in the Boston Massacre? Attucks is part of a complex history that reveals how much the Revolutionary War and the Fourth of July are a day that belongs to African Americans.

1.  The violent fight against Imperial press-gangs

The first part of this story is the emergence of a violent revolutionary movement of self-defense among sailors in the 18th century. The Imperial Navy needed bodies for its expanding empire. But the crown had never relied on volunteers. Instead, it sent armed gangs to kidnap people at sea or in the street. But people did not go willingly. All around the Atlantic—in Antigua, Jamaica, Halifax, and Boston, for example—there were 604 uprisings against these royal gangs in the 18th century. 

Sailors often defended themselves with pikes or muskets. Soldiers and sailors were killed in such raids.

The greatest of these uprisings was a three day battle in Boston against Admiral Knowles’s gangs in 1746. In the Independent Advertiser in 1747, Sam Adams wrote that multiracial, multinational movement against press-gangs was a driving force in making a free regime: “All Men are by nature on a Level: born with an equal Share of Freedom, and endow’d with Capacities nearly alike.”

 Whole communities rebelled against the gangs. Women, left behind, were called “Impressment widows.” Mary Jones, an Irish teenager, and her children starved after her husband was taken during the Falklands war scare of 1770. Mary was arrested for shoplifting a small piece of muslin.  Suckling one of her children even as the noose was put around her neck, she was hung. British “law” meant hanging and it was used depravedly against the poor. And in the colonies, it was worse.

Agrippa Hull was a free African-American patriot who served as an aide to Tadeusz Kościuszko, a Polish military officer, engineer and nobleman, for five years during the American Revolutionary War.

Merchants and members of the Boston House of Representatives feared revolutionary crowds. They denounced “a tumultuous riotous assembling of armed Seamen, Servants, Negroes, and others… tending to the Destruction of all Government and Order.” The phrase, “Armed Seaman, Servants, Negroes, and others” became almost a formula in such denunciations. They would be echoed by many later historians.

But a vast, Atlantic-wide succession of rebellions against Impressment was the key feature of the run up to the Revolution. These rebellions mobilized sailors against the crown, motivated them to participate vigorously in other demonstrations about taxes, and taught them, their relatives and communities, in Lockean terms, the need for violent self-defense. In America, press-gangs made revolutionaries.

Now black escapees, like Crispus Attucks, often found freedom at sea. Sailors, notably blacks, would lead revolutionary crowds against press-gangs and other abuses.

Colonel Tye was an escaped slave who became one of the most respected leaders of the Loyalist troops during the American Revolutionary War.

In 1760 in Jamaica, Tacky’s Rebellion, the largest uprising against bondage until that time, lasted for 4 months. Between 1760 and 1775, the outbreak of the American Revolution, some 20 slave uprisings took place in Bermuda, Nevis, Surinam, British Honduras, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Vincent, Tobago, St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. Kitts.

Seized without compensation, forced to abandon their families, sailors on British ships often identified with slaves. They took the word to London and Boston. In 1760, J. Philmore talked with mariners on London docks, and wrote the memorable Two Dialogues concerning the Man-Trade. In the broad abolitionist movement in England and America, Philmore’s 1760 pamphlet marks the most thorough transition politically from fighting for the basic “rights of an Englishman” to natural, universal or what we name today human rights. Unlike non-abolitionist authors, Philmore replaces the commonly labeled “slave trade”—a pro-bondage appellation which falsely legitimizes owners, merchants, and hunters—with the shocking but true name: the Man-trade. James Otis wrote a similar pamphlet in Boston. These ideas would be discussed in every poor people’s tavern in the 11 years leading up to the Revolution and shape rank-and-file abolitionism.

Integrated riots against press-gangs marked the pre-Revolutionary period as well as protest against taxes on tea or stamped paper. In Newport in June 1765, 500 “seamen, boys, and Negroes” rioted after five weeks of impressment. In Norfolk in 1767, Captain Jeremiah Morgan retreated, sword in hand, before a mob of armed whites and Negroes. “Good God,” he wrote to the governor, “was your Honour and I to prosecute all the Rioters that attacked us belonging to Norfolk there would not be twenty left unhang’d belonging to the Toun.” According to Thomas Hutchinson, the Liberty Riot in Boston in I768 was as much against impressment as against the seizure of John Hancock’s sloop. To understand this militancy, we might say that a second and deeper emancipatory revolution against bondage surged from the Caribbean via sailors into the U.S. and London, and shaped the revolution for independence from Britain.

In 1776, the crown authorized large numbers of press warrants in London for bodies to fight the American Revolution. But sailors, armed, marched together “having resolved to oppose any violence that might be done to them, and rather die than assist the Royalists in shedding the Blood of their American Brethren.” This was a startling example of democratic solidarity or internationalism from below, anti-patriotic, despising the Royalists’ haughty colonialism.  Read the Rest Here including the level of Black Toryism, and Black Patriots who fought in major battles…

Portrayal of the Royal Ethiopian Regiment. One of my ggg-grand-sires fought in this regiment and gained his freedom

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2016 in Black History

 

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Slavery’s Legacy Remembered

It has been 150 years, but the legacy lives on…

How close we are to slavery: America’s horrible legacy still deeply runs through the nation’s veins

For Lula Williams, America’s worst period isn’t ancient history — her grandmother was a slave

How close we are to slavery: America's horrible legacy still deeply runs through the nation's veinsAs a child growing up in South Carolina, I was keenly aware of how close I was to the history of slavery. It was all around me — in the fact of my ancestors owning slaves and fighting for the Confederacy, in the presence of black people who shared my last name, and in the Confederate battle flag that flew on my state’s capitol.

In many ways, the war for white supremacy was not over. It was simply being fought by other means.

I’ve been trying to understand and account for this history and my own privilege as a white male by writing and teaching about the nexus of race and violence in America. I mostly encounter white people who are embarrassed and angered by the violence of slavery and lynching or white people who don’t think it has any relation to them or to the present.

When Dylann Roof murdered nine black people last June at Emmanuel A.M.E., a church with deep roots in the freedom struggle, the proximity of our present lives to our nation’s slaving past resonated once again especially as photos surfaced of Roof posing before the Confederate flag.

Then Nikki Haley, the governor of my home state, did something I never imagined happening in my lifetime—she signed the order to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s state house grounds.

The backlash from the pro-flag contingent was swift. The Southern Poverty Law Center counted 346 pro-flag rallies in the months after South Carolina furled the flag.

Even in Ohio, where I live now, I noticed a spike in Confederate flags. Giant Confederate battle flags, fluttering in the wake of jacked-up trucks. Just two weeks ago, I saw one on a red GMC the very same day I interviewed a woman named Lula Williams who will turn 95 years old this month.

Lula’s grandmother, Eliza Jane Smiley, was a slave.

In a story that is in step with the terrifying realities of slavery, Eliza Jane’s father was also her master. As she grew up, Eliza Jane became the personal slave of her master/father’s young daughter. In fact, Eliza Jane slept on the floor next to her bed.

I repeated aloud what Lula said just be clear. “So she was a slave to her sister?”

Lula looked at me knowingly and said, “Weird. Sick minds.”

After Emancipation, Eliza Jane remained on the plantation, either because she lacked better opportunities or because she was coerced. Then she met a man named Charles Smiley who had been born a “free black.” Charles worked on a riverboat and the captain was friends with Eliza Jane’s father/master.

Charles took her away from the plantation and the two were married in 1873.  Charles, Lula’s grandfather, founded Hill Street Baptist Church in Louisville in 1895 and pastored there for over forty years. When Eliza Jane died, he came to live with Lula and her mother in Coshocton, Ohio.

Lula has fond memories of her childhood and her “loving close family,” but those memories are framed by stories of violence and barriers erected by both personal and institutional racism. She grew up knowing that the Klan was in her community, that a black man named Henry Howard was lynched on the courthouse square in 1885, and that a local jeweler kept one of Howard’s toes on display in his store.

There weren’t many black people, but the town, situated in the Appalachian foothills, was small enough that “most everybody knew everybody.” And yet some businesses still wouldn’t serve black people. Barbers wouldn’t cut their hair. Restaurants wouldn’t serve them. And some area towns were off limits to black people after sunset.

Lula said that some of her siblings had trouble in school because of their race. “They would call us names, and then we’d fight them,” she said. “But the others who were raised a little better, they ignored us, but at least they didn’t call us names.”

When her grandfather died, Lula traveled with her mother to Louisville for his burial. Once there her mother’s white aunt—Eliza Jane’s sister — contacted her and asked to see her. She was living in the Brown Hotel in Louisville.  Lula accompanied her mother to this meeting, but when she got there was told that she would have to sit in the hallway. Lula never did meet her.

“Is there any part of you that’s ever wanted to meet those people?” I asked.

“Not really. I was always kind of bitter about it. I can’t say that I hated them, but to me they just didn’t exist.”

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2016 in Black History

 

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