We live in a new time, but the cause of freedom remains in our hearts. I thought about the Golden Rule today. Utilizing the Golden Rule in everyday life works wonders in improving our lives. We treat people as we would want to be treated, because it's right. Also, when we honor the humanity and dignity of fellow people, we honor the dignity that resides in our own souls. It is important to have self reflection, to honor men, to honor women, and to honor children, so society is enriched. We live our lives in perpetrating love, humane treatment, and giving glory to the one who created us. All people are created equal and we will defend the creeds of altruism, of faith, and of hope. I love Africa and I love my heritage too. We want men and women to have blessings in order for them to sufficiently live out their total human potentials. We will forever honor women too since women gave us life and women represent so much of the contributions found in the human family. In the midst of a new far right Republican President (who embraces overt extremism), we still have hope for the future. There is no timetable for another's freedom. So, freedom must be given to all without compromise, without tokenism, and without delay. The rights of black people, women, immigrants, and all oppressed people are constantly under threat today. Therefore, it is critically important for all of us to defend human rights. We have the right to dissent and resist. This progressive movement for social change is bigger than one President.
We are intersectional human begins, so our cause is wide ranging. Being activists for what we care about is very important in order for us to develop human consciousness (along with activating solutions). We aren't waiting for justice. We are committed to have justice without paternalism. Many heroes are still here being courageous along with possessing a perspicacious mentality. This is a new era. We will always embrace our convictions with an ebullient desire for freedom. Many people talk about love. We know what love isn't. Love is not compromise. Love is not tolerating injustice. Love is not condoning xenophobia and racism. Love is strong. Love is powerful and love is the realization that to make right in the word, we must fight with due diligence. Love is about going out in public and in private to stand up and speak up for the oppressed, for the sick, for the minorities, and for those who are suffering. That's love and love is not cow towing to some right wing demagogue who doesn't care for true social justice. That is the point. We resist. We dissent.
One example of a hero who stood up for black human rights and great black relationships was Sister Ida B. Wells. She defended the humanity of black women and she stood up for the human rights of black men as well. She fought against lynching courageously. She is a great example of how we should approach things. Growing our positive energy is important too. That is why I recommend anyone to exercise, focus on thinking creative thoughts, reduce conflict, read, write, help the poor, study, and eat healthy foods (along with drinking water). Those deeds are important as well. Many black folks are poor by no fault of their own, so I will forever reject poor scapegoating. We need more black institutions and more black economic power (in making more stable communities and expanding our generational wealth), but not at the expense of mocking or slandering poor people. The poor, regardless of color, should have economic justice 100 percent. I believe in equality and justice for all. In the final analysis, we want terrorist cops to be jailed and imprisoned. We want a federal living wage. We want Medicare for all or universal health care. We want education to be affordable, we want an end to imperialism, we desire pan-African unity, we definitely want the end to the mass incarceration state (as advanced by Cynthia McKinney, Angela Davis, and other human beings), we reject xenophobia, and we believe in justice. Therefore, the billionaires and corporate puppets in Trump’s cabinet prove how Trump is ally with the capitalist oligarchy. We want revolutionary change for real.
One of the greatest ways to stir up creativity and inspire great writing is music. I love music too. I listen to a diversity of it in order to concentrate, to write, and to just relax. Also, music can be used to dance and to have fun. Don't get it twisted. We live in challenging times of an overtly racist and xenophobic President. We see the CIA being caught using spy devices on cellphones and television devices as revealed by the WikiLeaks leak. There is a fight against racism and structural inequality. We know that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere as the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has eloquently said. We should always connect the reality of racism being linked to class inequality and police brutality in America. For a long time, the two major capitalist parties (i.e. the Republicans and the Democrats) have dominated American politics. One of those parties is filled with bigotry, racism, and xenophobia plus the other party in its leadership acts for elitists and neoliberals. They have never been effective to comprehensively deal with the needs and aspirations of the people. The trickled down economic view is just wrong. It has never worked in history since rich people alone can never give money to create a high standard of living for everyone else. The reactionaries utilizing policies against the oppressed and working class people must be opposed. The Black Lives Matter movement, the Standing Rock movement, the immigrant rights movement, and other movements show how progressive human beings are still fighting for social change.
We need more solidarity. Solidarity builds power and it can defeat the agenda of Trumpism. Over the course of months, we have new facts about the world. President Trump's adviser, Roger Stone admitted to having private conversations and contacts with the DNC hacker (according to the Hill). Jeff Sessions asks 46 attorneys to resign. Mike Flynn attended intelligence briefings while getting paid to lobby for Turkey. Mike Flynn resigned. Be True to you since you will feel so much better in the future. Always promote greatness while helping your neighbor.
African American History Part 2
Long journeys exemplify the African American experience. As we enter the 19th century, changes would exist in America. Black people back then (both free and enslaved) during the early 1800's dreamed of the existence of true freedom and they used social activism (from setting up organizations to enacting slavery rebellions). They did these things for the purpose of establishing justice for black people. In essence, the early to mid 19th century of America was a time of massive resistance by black Americans. More heroes fought against tyranny. Victories existed, but challenges still transpired back then too. The Gabriel Posser rebellion and the Nat Turner rebellion showed the world about how evil the tyranny of slavery is and the power of black human resistance. Also, black people back then worked in universities, they set up institutions, many were inventors, and they contributed greatly in society. As America grown in power, its power continued to grow at the expense of slavery and the genocide against Native Americans. Many racists used the concept of Manifest Destiny as a perverted excuse to plunder and steal lands all over America (and beyond). It is important to note that many Americans back then oppose imperialism, racism, and tyranny. Their names should be remembered always. When anyone studies the history of Black America, we see courage, glorious resiliency, and a sense of hope. Our ancestors were brave. They carried on despite living in conditions of oppression and overt terrorism.
The antebellum period experience and the Civil War changed American society permanently. To this very day, we are still influenced by the events of the Civil War. To this day, we celebrate the courageous black Union soldiers who defeated the Confederate enemy. Those periods of American history caused the freedom of millions of our Brothers and our Sisters who were once in bondage. Abolitionists (who were diverse ethnically and divergent ideological wise) heroically fought to end slavery. Women asserted their humanity and their sacrosanct dignity in promoting gender equality too. Mr. Walker's Appeal, Frederick Douglas's astounding actions, and Harriet Tubman's heroism outlined Black Excellence in action. From 1804 to 1865, Black America witnessed monumental changes while a long way to go still was a reality.
Still, we rise.
Religion (From B.C. to the Present)
Religion and spirituality have been expressed by people of black African descent for thousands of years. Africa back then and today is filled with many languages, cultures, ethnicities, and creeds. African religious traditions had people who believed in a Supreme Being and other traditions were polytheistic. Some of our black African ancestors believed in ancestor worship. To this very day, tons of black Americans (including myself as I am a black American from the state of Virginia) acknowledge the courage of our black ancestors. Many Africans thousands of years ago used rituals not only to celebrate, but to communicate with each other. Some black American spirituals during the 19th century were used as code in determining ways to escape from slavery into Canada. Additionally, these spiritual traditions came about to show honor to human beings, the ancestors, Nature, the stars, and other bodies of space. To many Africans, everything and every place embody God. Ancient African spirituality was heavily communal in dealing with community development; therefore a community of deities was worshiped. Some believed that the ancestors were a gateway in communicating with these deities while the common origin ultimately was created by one Supreme Being. African societies had rituals to represent the life stages from having birth, puberty, adulthood, marriage, having children, old age, death, and life after death. The church like worship of God didn’t exist uniformly in Africa. In East Africa, a common name for the Supreme Being is Mulungu, a word indicating the Almighty and ever-present creator. The thunder is said to be his voice, lightning is his power, and he rewards the good and punishes the wicked.
From the northern Kalahari through the Congo to Tanzania, the Supreme being is called Leza , perhaps from the root meaning, "to cherish," as he is the one who watches over people. Leza is said to live in heaven and is transcendent and incomprehensible. There is a diversity of ancient names for God throughout Africa. As time went on, Africans merged or mixed spiritual belief systems. Christianity came into Africa early in the 1st century A.D. According to the New Testament, Jesus Christ and his family came into Africa (in Egypt) as refugees. The reason was that Herod the Great (who established massive building projects in Judea) wanted to exterminate male newborn Jewish children in Israeli territories according to the book of Matthew. The New Testament is clear on the history of the apostles traveling worldwide to spread the Gospel. Ancient Coptic churches were in Egypt. Christianity before 600 A.D. flourished in Ethiopia, Sudan, and in Northern Africa. Islam came into Africa during the 7th century too. Islam's founder was Muhammad. Muslims view Muhammad as a prophet. Islam especially spread into Western Africa. Of course, we condemn those who claimed to be Christians and Muslims who enslaved innocent black Africans. The curse of Ham myth and other anti-black slanderous lies were used by capitalist slave owners in order for them to allow oppression to continue. There is nothing wrong with believing in spirituality, but we condemn those who exploit religion as an excuse for them to spew anti-black racist lies. The vast majority of the victims of the Maafa were those who followed traditional African religions. Many were originally Muslims and Christians too. In the Americas, more of the children and grandchildren of Africans (in America) embraced Christianity.
Likewise, many traditions from Africa continued to be expressed by the Africans. It was a transformation of cultures that impacted religious history and spiritual expression in general. In other words, Africans in America used many spiritual traditions in order for them to advocate for justice, revolutionary change, and an end to slavery. Gullah Jack or an Angolan priest cooked meals and handed out charms to protect the men involved in Denmark Vesey’s heroic rebellion. Muslim slaves in many cases could read, prayed five times a day, fasted during Ramadan, abstained from drinking, and created Arabic writings. Many Africans adopted both Christian and African practices and beliefs since we are a creative people. The Great Awakening of the 1700’s influenced many people. The movement was very emotional and many black people converted to Christianity. Many people were inspired by the Great Awakening to promote religious, class, and racial tolerance. The Great Awakening in part caused an increased amount of black Americans to convert to Christianity. By the time of the Revolutionary War, only 1-2 percent of black people in America professed Christianity. That would change. Andrew Bryan raised money to build the first black Baptist church in Georgia. Black people saw the contradiction of some whites claiming to be holy while enslaving them in bondage. Also, many white racists back then believed in the lie that God is white when the first humans on this Earth are black people. That contradiction represents the hypocrisy of the white racist hypocrites and their spiritual deceptions. Many freedom fighters of our people believed in God too. Some of our people were agnostic and atheist. As for me, I will always believe in God. Black people would always fight for freedom.
Religion in Black America has a very long history. Back during the 1770’s, about only 1% of black Americans were connected to organized churches. These numbers grew by many factors. There was the Anglican Church using a proselytize campaign especially in Virginia to try to convert black people into the Anglican Church. The Anglican Church came from Henry VIII, who broke away from Roman Catholicism out of political reasons (Henry VIII wanted to control England not the Pope). Many converts didn’t materialize. Black people merged traditional practices from African religion into the thirteen colonies. Underground practice of magic was common back then. Black religious music back and today uses dances, ring shouts, emotional displays, great oratory, and repetition of concepts. Many black Christians used their religious views back them to promote freedom. The growth of black people coming into Christianity had to greatly do with the First Great Awakening (which lasted from ca. 1730 to 1755). It was spread by missionaries. It allowed in black people including poor white farmers. Many black people converted to Baptist views by the 1760’s in Virginia. Many slaves were in Baptist congregations, yet many self-proclaimed Baptists who were white owned slaves.
The Black church was used as a means of black people to be educated on subjects, to plan social activism, and to inspire hope in the lives of black Americans. The church was an integral part of the black community. Christian black people like Bishop Richard Allen formed separate Black denominations, because of discrimination and racism found in Philadelphia (and throughout America). Free black people formed churches in the South too before 1860. Most black Christians were Baptists and Methodists. Very few black people were Catholics. The Second Great Awakening (from 1800-1820’s) caused Afro-Christianity to develop into the next level. After the Great Awakening, many blacks joined the Baptist Church, which allowed for their participation, including roles as elders and preachers. For instance, First Baptist Church and Gillfield Baptist Church of Petersburg, Virginia, both had organized congregations by 1800 and were the first Baptist churches in the city. From the 18th century and beyond, black Americans included Muslims too. Black pastors acted as the leader of the church, counselors, and comforters. In real life, I have been to a church in Boykins, Virginia which has a long history.
Also, black churches (back then and today) include conversational oratory, prose, dancing, shouting, and dancing. By the age of Reconstruction, black religious people celebrated the end of slavery. After the Civil War, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and other churches grew. Many churches worked with businesses to form infrastructure in black communities. Some black ministers were in state office like AME minister Charles H. Pearce. He said that, “A man in this State cannot do his whole duty as a minister except he looks out for the political interests of his people," over 100 black ministers were elected to state legislatures during Reconstruction. Several served in Congress and one, Hiram Revels, in the U.S. Senate. Black churches would be in urban and rural communities. Many would work with black colleges to help educate human beings. Some hosted Republican Party conventions as the Republicans of the 19th century supported federal policies to promote civil rights back then. In the 20th century, many churches promoted political activism while people like Rev. Joseph H. Jackson didn’t want civil rights activism (though Rev. Jackson supported the Montgomery bus boycott of 1956). Rev. Joseph Jackson disagreed with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s Chicago Movement. The Pentecostal and Holiness movement impacted the black community in many ways from emphasizing emotionalism of black worship to focus on spiritual experiences. African Americans have diverse religious views from Buddhists, Bahia, Mormonism, Black Hebrew Israelites, Moorish Temple Science, Judaism, etc.
"I have plowed and planted and gathered into barns, and no man could head me. And aren't I a woman?"
The Antebellum period (1783-1861)
The first sixty-five years of the 19th century are some of the most important years of human history. African Americans experienced unspeakable hardships, but our black ancestors used their audacious power to overcoming daunting odds. By the early 19th century, the racist tyranny of slavery and discrimination continued in America. The First Black Codes (or anti-black discriminatory measures) began in the early 1800’s too. In August 30, 1800, Gabriel Prosser organized a slave rebellion to end tyranny (which was slavery) in Richmond, Virginia. It was suppressed. Gabriel was born in slavery in Henrico County, Virginia. He was 6 ft. 3 or 4 inches tall. Gabriel made plans and he wanted black people to be free from bondage. His plans were leaked (by 2 slaves who were traitors to black people) before it was executed. Gabriel was captured in Norfolk, Virginia. Gabriel Prosser (who was also a skilled blacksmith), his 2 brothers, and 23 of his followers were hanged afterwards. This magnified the paranoia of racist whites, who didn’t desire true freedom and equality for black human beings. These racists in Virginia along with other state legislatures passed laws that restricted the rights of free black people. These legislatures also banned the education, assembly, and hiring out of slaves. These policies were used to attack black human rights and to attack the heroic rebellion movement in America.
In 2002, the City of Richmond passed a resolution in honor of Gabriel on the 202nd anniversary of the rebellion. In 2007, Governor Tim Kaine gave Gabriel and his followers an informal pardon, in recognition that his cause involved, "the end of slavery and the furtherance of equality for all people—has prevailed in the light of history.” Gabriel Prosser was a freedom fighter. In 1807, Congress passed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves. This makes it a federal crime to import a slave from abroad. It was urged by President Thomas Jefferson, but this law never banned slavery in American soil. By 1808 on January 1st, the importation of slaves became a felony. This was the earliest law under the United States Constitution where a restriction of slavery existed. During this time, black institutions further developed and the abolitionist movement expanded. In 1816, the first separate black denomination of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) was founded by Richard Allen. He was elected its first bishop. Sister Jarena Lee was a black woman who preached too.
There was a colonization movement too. Many people supported it as a way to connect to Africa. Others supported this movement not as a means to advance equality, but as a means to get rid of the black population in America. The American Colonization Society was started by Robert Finley in 1816. He wanted to send free African Americans to Liberia in Africa. The colonization movement in general never had wide ranging support consistently. Tensions among the North and the South involving slavery grew too. The Missouri Compromise was passed in March 6, 1820. It allowed the entry as Maine being a free state and Missouri as a slave state. It didn’t allow slave states north of the coordinate of 36°30′. The British West Africa Squadron's slave trade suppression activities are assisted by forces from the United States Navy, starting in 1820 with the USS Cyane. With the Webster–Ashburton Treaty of 1842, the relationship is formalized and they jointly run the Africa Squadron. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was formed in 1821. In July 14, Denmark Vessey’s planned slave rebellion in Charleston, South Carolina was suppressed. Denmark Vesey wanted justice. He would be murdered in 1822.
In September 1829, a new era of the abolitionist movement existed with David Walker publishing his abolitionist pamphlet Walker’s Appeal. It was unapologetic in its advocacy of ending slavery and justice for black people. It was powerful, to the point, and it inspired freedom loving people for years and decades including centuries to come. His work showed the power of Blackness and refuted the myth of white inferiority. David Walker was a great writer and he believed in black unity, self-help, and ending injustice.
His son was Edward G. Walker. Edward was an attorney and one of the first two black men elected to the Massachusetts State Legislature in 1866. David Walker’s Appeal was revolutionary and many Southern officials tried to prevent it publication from reaching the South. Henry Highland Garnet, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and other liberation theologians are influenced plus inspired by David Walker’s important legacy. David Walker passed away in 1830. As Brother David Walker has mentioned:
“Leadership is building a bridge that connects the vision with the purpose, in order to empower those who are around us.”
Josiah Henson was the slave who fled and went into Canada. He was an author, abolitionist, minister, and inspiration behind the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin. William Lloyd Garrison published the abolitionist newspaper called the Liberator in the year of 1831. He said that slavery must end immediately and that slavery is a sin. William Lloyd Garrison would be an influential abolitionist. He would support women’s rights too. Garrison wanted an immediate end to slavery via nonviolence and passive resistance. He rejected taking on holding political office out of moral reasons. He passed away in 1879 in New York City. The anti-slavery movement further increased the women’s rights movement as women fought for equality and fought against slavery at the same time. The Seneca Convention called for the equality of men and women. Angelina Grime and Sarah Grimke promoted women’s equality and they were abolitionists as well. Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman fought against slavery and desired equality among all sexes too. Sojourner Truth’s “A’int I A Woman?” speech promoted equality and exposed the misogynoir among many back then. Sojourner Truth’s heroism is inspirational. The abolitionist movement was powerful and diverse ideologically. The social gospel spiritually inspired the abolitionist movement in general.
The fight to end slavery was a long struggle in America, but it was a just cause. The number of free Black people grew during this time as well. By 1830, there were 319,000 free Black people in the United States. About 150,000 lived in the northern states. Black human beings generally settled in cities creating the core of black community life in the region. They established churches and fraternal orders. Many black people sued for their freedom and other black people escaped. During the antebellum period, black people worked as stevedores, construction workers, and grave diggers. Many were businessmen. Black women worked as teachers, nurses, medical professionals, etc. Black doctors and lawyers formed their own power structure like James Forten. Blacks organized to help strengthen the Black community and continue the fight against slavery. One of these organizations was the American Society of Free Persons of Colour, founded in 1830. This organization provided social aid to poor black human beings and organized responses to political issues. Black churches were key in fighting slavery and discrimination back then too.
In August of 1831, Nat Turner led a powerful slave rebellion in America. It occurred in Southampton County, Virginia where my ancestors are from. I have visited Southampton County too recently in December of 2016. Nat Turner wanted justice and retribution against those harming his people. The rebellion led by Turner caused up to 60 white people to die in a few days. This event was a reminder of how vicious slavery was and the courage of the resistance against such evil. There are little sources about Nat Turner’s life. Nat Turner was a very intelligent man. Even slave owners admitted to this. Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Thomas R. Gray wrote about him. His or Nat Turner’s testimony in court interrogation on October 31 showed his views. Nat Turner was born in October 1800. His mother was Nancy. He could read, write, and he studied the Bible. He was romantically involved with a young woman named Cherry. They married. Many slave families were split up and Nat Turner was split from his wife. Nat Turner met his wife from time to time, but they were separated unjustly. He used his spiritual ideas as a religious and political motivation to try to change things. He believed that God will enact vengeance against evil slave owners and he was God’s instrument in doing so. He planned his actions meticulously. According to Higginson (who was an abolitionist), he wrote that,
“Whatever Nat Turner’s experiences of slavery might have been, it is certain that his plans were not suddenly adopted, but that he had brooded over them for years.”
Turner and his men killed Joseph Travis (or a plantation owner). They went from plantation to plantation and grown to 70 fighters. Nat Turner wanted to go into Jerusalem, Virginia (or Courtland today) in order to gather weapons and fight it out. Later, militia forces defeated Turner’s forces. The State of Virginia tried and sentenced to death 56 black people after the rebellion, reimbursing slave masters. Also, white racist mobs and militias killed black people randomly after the capture of Nat Turner. These racists killed at least 200 black people. They were killed after the crushing of the rebellion. In one particularly gruesome massacre, a company of militia from North Carolina killed 40 innocent black people in one day. Those accused of participating in the Nat Turner uprising were beheaded, and their heads mounted on poles at crossroads to terrify slaves. To this day, part of Virginia State Route 658 is labeled “Blackhead Signpost Road” as a sick, disgusting mentioning of this racist bloodbath. Nat Turner was tried and convicted. He was hanged on November 11 in Jerusalem, Virginia. His body was flayed, beheaded, and quartered. Nat Turner was a man on a mission and he was the prelude of the end of the Civil War (after the Civil War, legal slavery was ended once and for all). Nat Turner was a man of his convictions and his life should never be forgotten.
The rebellion was suppressed and Nat Turner plus his allies were executed. This caused states in the South to pass more strict pro-slavery laws. Many Southern states even banned black people from owning a gun during the 19th century. The Haitian Revolution and other slavery revolts caused Southern white slave-owners to promote a harder line in favor of injustice. The growth of the cotton gin caused slavery to increase profits. These profits existed in the South and the North too as Northern industries took cotton from the South to be shipped into England. Therefore, the North in many cases benefited from the injustices of slavery economically. The Industrial Revolution was key in the expansion of American slavery and the violation of workers’ rights in Europe.
As the North focused more on manufacturing and commerce, slavery caused the South to be more dependent on agriculture. In 1832, Sarah Harris Fayerweather, an aspiring teacher, was admitted to Prudence Crandall's all-girl school in Canterbury, Connecticut, resulting in the first racially integrated schoolhouse in the United States. Her admission led to the school's forcible closure under the Connecticut Black Law of 1833. William Lloyd Garrison and Arthur Tappan formed the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. Frederick Douglas was a key member of the group. Institutions grew in the black community too. In February of 1837, there was the African Institute being formed. It was renamed as the Institute of Coloured Youth (ICY) in April of 1837. Today, it is known as Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. It was the first Institute of higher education for African Americans. In 1839, slaves revolted in the La Amistad ship. The ship illegally kidnapped black people. They landed in America and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling called United States v. The Amistad granted the black human beings their freedom. In 1840, the Liberty Party broke away from the American Anti-Slavery Society due to grievances with William Lloyd Garrison's leadership. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842), that states do not have to offer aid in the hunting or recapture of slaves, greatly weakening the fugitive slave law of 1793.
Sojourner Truth continued to preach for the end of slavery in the 1840’s. One of the most important events of the antebellum period was Henry Highland Garnet’s “Call to Rebellion” speech. It was a call for African Americans to use self-defense and resist slavery. He believed that the only method to end it was by physically defeating it, which is true. It is important to show the ideological diversity of abolitionists. Martin Delaney and Henry Highland Garnett desired emigration of black people to Africa or areas in the Western Hemisphere. After the Civil War, Garnett worked in the suffrage movement and fought for equal rights. Martin Delaney was a lifelong advocate of emigration to Africa and he was one of the founding fathers of modern Black Nationalist thinking. Garrison was a pacifist and believed in moral suasion and passive resistance to end slavery. Frederick Douglass was different than all of these men on many issues. Frederick Douglass believed in arms to fight slavery, but he believed in creating alliances with non-blacks to defeat it too. He also believed in self-defense. Unlike Garrison, Douglas believed in using political action in fighting for freedom. Frederick Douglas knew of the class components of the time. In other words, the rich suffer less than the poor from political and economic standpoints. All of these abolitionists believed in the same goal, which is the abolition of slavery completely and freedom for black people. In 1847, Frederick Douglas started his publication of the abolitionist newspaper the North Star. Douglas had a long split with Garrison on ideology. They reconciled decades later. Joseph Jenkins Roberts of Norfolk, Virginia in 1847 was the first President of Liberia. By April 27, 1848, the French Empire banned slavery in all of its territories. In 1849, Roberts v. Boston seeks to end racial discrimination in Boston public schools. Black abolitionists were courageous leaders. There were National Negro Conventions that spoke in favor of equality.
Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery to Philadelphia in 1849 too. Harriet Tubman was born in ca. 1822 in Eastern Shore, Maryland. She started to help other slaves escape via the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman was a hero who freed hundreds of human beings. One of the most historic policies of the time period was the Compromise of 1850. It allowed California to be a free state, Texas traded some territorial claims for debt relief, and New Mexico became New Mexico Territory (with slavery undecided). The disgraceful Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 required any federal official to arrest anyone suspected of being a runaway slave. That is why many black people in the North (who were born free and born lave) were kidnapped to be sent into slavery via the usage of that Fugitive Slave Act. Many black people by the 1850’s traveled into the West Coast in order to find freedom. Some worked in gold mines and others worked in civil rights like Samuel D. Burris was a key person in the early civil rights movement of San Francisco. Black communities grew in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Denver, and other places of the West during the 19th century. Oberlin College of Ohio during the antebellum helped to educate a lot of black Americans. It was created by John Shipherd and Philo Stewart in 1833. Elizabeth Greenfield was a black woman who had one of the greatest voices of all time. She sang to audiences worldwide and she was known as the “Black Swan.”
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe is published in 1852. This book inspired debate and motivated anti-slavery advocates in their causes. It also angered Southerners who believed in the evil of slavery too. Uncle Tom's Cabin tells the story of the life of a slave and the brutality that is faced by that life day after day. It would sell over 100,000 copies in its first year. The popularity of Uncle Tom's Cabin would solidify many from the North in its opposition to slavery. Lincoln would later invite Stowe to the White House in honor of this book that changed America. In December of 1852, “Clotel or The President’s Daughter” was the first novel published by an African American. Its author was United States author and playwright William Wells Brown. President Franklin Pierce signs the Kansas–Nebraska Act in 1854, which repealed the Missouri Compromise and allowed slaves to be brought to the new territories.
In opposition to the Kansas–Nebraska Act, the Republican Party is formed with an anti-slavery platform in 1854. These policies caused more tensions among slavery opponents and slavery supporters. By 1855, John Mercer Langston was one of the first African Americans elected to public office when elected as a town clerk in Ohio. In 1856, there was the Sacking of Lawrence in Bleeding Kansas. This event took place in May 21, 1856 when pro-slavery extremists attacked and ransacked the town of Lawrence, Kansas. The area was founded by anti-slavery settlers to help ensure that Kansas would be a free state. This incident caused guerrilla warfare. John Brown retaliated against this incident in the Pottawatomie event. John Brown was a vociferous opponent of slavery and gave his life in martyrdom (including Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, and so many other black people) in order for our ancestors to be free. Wilberforce University is founded by collaboration between Methodist Episcopal and African Methodist Episcopal representatives in 1856. In 1856, Charles Sumner was assaulted by House member Preston Brooks of South Carolina. Sumner was an anti-slavery leader and a Massachusetts congressman who was nearly killed. Sumner was praised in the North. He was a leader of the Radical Republicans and fought to end slavery and promote equal rights for black people.
One of the greatest abolitionist, suffragist, poet, and author in American history was the black woman Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland in September 24, 1825. She worked her whole life to promote freedom and justice. She worked in the Underground Railroad to help people go into Canada. She was a great public speaker too and a political activist. He joined the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1853. She was raised by her maternal aunt and uncle, who was Rev. William Watkins, who was a civil rights activist. She was educated at his Academy for Negro Youth. She wrote great literature. She wrote Forest Leaves, published in 1845 when she was 20. Her second book, Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects (1854), was extremely popular. She wrote short stories and poetry. In 1859, her story of “The Two Offers” was published in the Anglo-African Magazine. She was the first black woman to publish a short story. In 1858, she refused to give up her seat or ride in the segregated section of a segregated trolley car in Philadelphia (which was almost 100 years before Rosa Parks). In 1866, Harper gave a moving speech before the National Women's Rights Convention, demanding equal rights for all, including Black women. During the Reconstruction Era, she worked in the South to review and report on living conditions of freedmen. She desired racial and sexual equality. She wanted the federal government to protect rights, and to promote the general welfare. She and Mary Church Terrell helped to create the National Association of Colored Women in 1894. She was elected vice President in 1897. Frances Watkins passed away on February 25, 1911. She was 85 years old.
Rest in Power Sister Frances Ellen Watkins.
One of the most evil Supreme Court decisions in history was the Dred Scott decision. Dred Scott was a slave who escaped from bondage. He fought for his freedom in the court system. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld slavery in the decision. This is one of the reasons of why the American Civil War existed in the first place. After the decision, Dred Scott and his family would be free. He worked in St. Louis and he passed away in 1858. Harriet E. Wilson wrote the autobiographical novel “Our Nig” in 1859. In Ableman v. Booth the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state courts cannot issue rulings that contradict the decisions of federal courts; this decision upheld the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. As the antebellum period ended, the North and the South had economic, political, culturally, and social tensions. Many people wanted slavery to maintain a racist, caste system. Other human beings heroically opposed slavery to fight for freedom and human justice. John Brown and his allies used a raid on Harpers Ferry in October 16, 1859. This was done by abolitionists who wanted to get weapons, cause a massive rebellion, and end with the end of slavery in America. It was a brave move. Many people wanted to talk John Brown out of it, but he persisted. Harpers Ferry is located in West Virginia. He had 22 people with him. The raid failed as U.S. Marines defeated Brown. The Marines were led by First Lieutenant Israel Greene. Colonel Robert E. Lee was in command of the operation to retake the arsenal. He asked Tubman to join him, but Tubman had an illness. Frederick Douglas didn’t join Brown since he thought that it would fail. John Brown and others would be hanged. John Brown’s martyrdom inspired the abolitionist cause and further shown that Brown wasn’t afraid to die for the cause of human freedom. Many people who were involved in the raid escaped and were never captured like Barclay Coppock, Osborne Perry Anderson (he was a black man who wrote about his experiences in the raid too. He fought as a Union soldier and he lived until 1872 when he passed away in Washington, D.C.), Owen Brown, Francis Jackson Meriam, and Charles Plummer Todd.
One of the greatest black heroes of the 19th century was William Still. He was an abolitionist from Philadelphia and he was part of the Underground Railroad, which helped slaves to escape into freedom. He lived from October 7, 1821 to July 14, 1902. Before the American Civil War, Still was chairman of the Vigilance Committee of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, and directly aided fugitive slaves and kept records to help families reunite. After the war, he remained an important businessman and philanthropist, as well as used his meticulous records to write an account of the underground system and the experiences of many refugee slaves, entitled The Underground Railroad Records(1872). He helped to free as many as 800 slaves. He has been called the Father of the Underground Railroad. He fought for equal educational opportunities for all African Americans. He loved his family and he cared for the poor. He was a great man. Rest in Power Brother William Still.
In 1860, Abraham Lincoln won the Presidential election. He was a President who changed history forever. His views on race was reactionary, his views on slavery have been debated, and he, as time went onward, would be more progressive on the issue on slavery in 1865 than in 1860. President Abraham Lincoln, in essence, represents the views of many. Also, he was pushed to be more strident in the cause to defeat the Confederates by progressive black people and progressive white people. The Southern supporters of slavery were so extreme, that they seceded from the Union from 1860 to 1861. The Confederacy would begin in the cause of their promotion of evil and oppression against black people. President Abraham Lincoln thought about what to do about these developments and the Civil War was plainly inevitable.
*On another note: The trailer of the 2nd season of Underground is very emotional and powerful. It certainly gives many audiences a glimpse of the profound history of the antebellum period of America. That period changed not only America, but the world. During that era, heroes opposed the unjust Fugitive Slave Act, saved lives, and rescued many victims of slavery. Black men, black women, and black children back then experienced bondage and tyranny at the hands of evil, ruthless criminals. Yet, our ancestors used determination and strength to fight back against evil. It is false to say that our ancestors didn't have hands. Nat Turner had hands. Harriet Tubman had hands. Frederick Douglas had hands too. All of these human beings opposed the unspeakable abuse of black human beings. The cast in this season has shown grit, power, and great seriousness in conducting their acting. The courage and the solidarity of black people are in full display. The gorgeous Sister Aisha Hinds playing Harriet Tubman is great news. She is a magnificent actress. This series also gives people more of an opportunity to research the history of that time from abolitionists, black freedom fighters, and black people who escaped slavery to go into Oberlin College (and other former black slaves who enacted great institutions in a firm fashion). So, the series Underground outlines the power of Blackness and the necessity of action. We believe in action and that show truly has very powerful, inspirational qualities. Like always, our goal is freedom and justice. Our cause is right and just.
The Civil War and Emancipation (1861-1865)
The American Civil War started in April 12, 1861. During this war, thousands of African Americans (both free and enslaved) would join the Union cause. Many people escaped from slavery to just join the Union to fight for justice. Many black people learned to read and write in contraband camps. Back then, many black people would escape the South and treated as contraband by Union forces. They shouldn't be treated a contraband, but as total human beings. Many traveled with the Union army. By the end of the war, more than 180,000 African Americans fought with the Union Army and Navy including members of the U.S. Colored Troops and sailors. Most African American soldiers came from the South. In the early part of the war, General Benjamin Butler refused to extradite 3 escaped slaves. He declared them contraband of war in May 24, 1861. In August 6, 1861, there was the Confiscation Act of 1861. This policy authorized the confiscation of any Confederate property. It called for all slaves to be held, who fought or worked for the Confederate military. The Fremont Emancipation took place in Missouri in August 30, 1861. This is about Major General John C. Fremont to place the state of Missouri under martial law and it all slaves would be declared free. Lincoln eventually ordered Frémont to rescind the edict on September 11, 1861. In 1862, African Americans fought in the Union side, but it wasn’t part of official policy until 1863.
African American slaves were freed in Washington, D.C. by April 16, 1862. General David Hunter of the Union declared emancipation in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. It was rescinded by Lincoln in May 19. At September 22, 1862, Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation to go into effect at January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in Confederate territories. It affected 3 million black human beings, but the South wasn’t going to enforce such a policy. In January 31, 1863, the U.S. Army commissions the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, a combat unit made up of escaped slaves. Black soldiers were brave in the war. Black men and Black women fought in the Union side with valor, courage, and sacrifice. By May 22, 1863, the U.S. Army recruits United States Colored Troops. (The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment would be featured in the 1989 film Glory).
Black men and Black women courageously worked together to defeat the evil Confederacy.
In June 1, 1863, Harriet Tubman led the 2nd South Carolina Volunteers to liberate 750 people with the Raid at Combahee Ferry.Mary Touvestre was a black woman who fought against the Confederate as a pro-Union spy. Her heroism should be noted. After obtaining a copy of the Confederate plans for the creation of the ironclad ship CSS Virginia (in Norfolk, VA), she daringly crossed enemy lines to take this information to Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, which caused the Union to crank up construction of its own ironclad warship, the U.S.S. Monitor. Mary Elizabeth Bowser was a black woman who fought for the Union as well. She was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1839. One of the worst events of the Civil War era was the New York Draft Riots in NYC from July 13-16, 1863. Many ethnic Irish immigrants scapegoated black people because of draft rules and many of them murdered many black people, burned down orphanages, and used outright terrorism in black neighborhoods in New York City. It was so bad that a compensation fund existed to help the black victims of terrorism. The Second Battle of Fort Wagner begins in July 18, 1864 when the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, an African-American military unit, led by white Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, attacked a Confederate fort at Morris Island, South Carolina. The attack on Fort Wagner by the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry failed to take the fort and Gould was killed in the battle. However, the fort was abandoned by the Confederates on September 7, 1863, after many could not stand the constant weeks of bombardment. In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln won reelection for the Presidency. The Battle of Fort Pillow and its massacre of April 12, 1864 was one of the most brutal events of African American history. When people surrendered, Confederates murdered black soldiers and others in cold blood. Nathan Bedford Forrest (who was a founder of the wicked Ku Klux Klan) was involved in the massacre of black men. By October 13, 1864, emancipation existed in Maryland.
1865 would be the year of the end of the Civil War. By January 16, 1865, the Sherman's Special Field Orders, No. 15 allocated a tract of land in coastal South Carolina and Georgia for Black-only settlement. This is where the concept of "40 acres and a mule" came from. The United States Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in January 31, 1865. This meant that the states must ratify it. In March 3, 1864, Congress passed the bill which formed the Freedman’s Bureau. It mandated distribution of "not more than forty acres" of confiscated land to all loyal freedmen and refugees. In May 29, 1865, Andrew Johnson gave an amnesty proclamation that initiates return of land to pre-war owners. Andrew Johnson later would be not only one of the most racist Presidents in history, but a bad President in general. The Civil War ended by April of 1865 and Lincoln celebrated. Yet, he was brutally assassinated in April 14, 1865. The murderer was John Wilkes Booth, who hated how Lincoln wanted to give some black people voting rights. By June 1865, the Union Army controlled the entire Confederacy and liberated all of the designated slaves. Shaw Institute is founded in Raleigh, North Carolina, as the first black college in the South would exist in December 18, 1865. Atlanta College was founded in the same day. In the date of December 18, 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment was passed. Emancipation existed in Delaware and in Kentucky by 1865. Juneteenth is a celebration found in Texas and all over America (by black Americans) on the end of the Civil War and the end of overt, legalized slavery in America. The Civil War era was over by this time and the era of Reconstruction for black Americans begins. Reconstruction would change society forever indeed. Cultural power was shown during this time too. Mary Edmonia Lewis was a famous African American sculptor, who is very famous in the 19th century as making art describing the black experience. The antebellum period and the Civil War have shown the greatness of black people. It outlines our beauty, our intellectual power, our resistance to slavery, and our courage.
Soon, part 3 of this series will include Reconstruction, early Jim Crow, and the civil rights movement of the late 19th century and the early 20th century.
Black is Beautiful and We still rise.