Monthly Archives: January 2013
During this conversation on Immigration Reform, I figured it was appropriate to talk about another “Immigration” Issue. Great thing, this research.
• Slaves built the U.S. Capitol, cast and hoisted the statue of freedom on top of its dome, and cleared the forest between the Capitol and the White House.
• Slavery fueled the prosperity of the young nation. From 1790 to 1860 alone, the U.S. economy reaped the benefits of as much as $40 million in unpaid labor. Some estimate the current value of this unpaid labor at 1.4 trillion dollars.
• Not only did the institution of slavery result in the extinguishment of millions of Africans, it eviscerated whole cultures: languages, religions, mores, and customs, it psychologically destroyed its victims. It wrenched from them their history, their memories, and When the institution finally ended, the vestiges, racial inequalities and cultural psychic scars left a disproportionate number of American slave descendants injured and without additional help.
• Although the institution of slavery in the United States was officially outlawed in 1865, it continued, defacto, until as recently as the 1950’s. National archive records reveal that in the 1920’s and 1930’s, the NAACP still received letters from African-Americans claiming to still be on plantations and forced to work without pay. Several claims were investigated and were found to be legitimate. Moreover, as late as 1954, the Justice Department prosecuted the Dial brothers in Sumpter County, Alabama because they held Blacks in involuntary servitude.
• Hence, new measures called “Black Codes” guaranteed control of Blacks by white employers. As John Hope Franklin noted in From Slavery to Freedom: the control of blacks by white employers was about as great as that which slaveholders had exercised. Blacks who quit their job could be arrested and imprisoned for breach of contract. They were not allowed to testify in court except in cases involving members of their own race; numerous fines were imposed for seditious speeches, insulting gestures or acts, absence from work, violating curfews and the possession of firearms. There was of course no enfranchisement of Blacks and no indication that in the future they could look forward to full citizenship and participation in democracy.
• The post-Reconstruction Southern practices of peonage and sharecropping which continued well into the twentieth century were direct outgrowths of slavery that continued a system of complete control by the dominant culture. Peonage was a complex system where a Black man would be arrested for “vagrancy”, ordered to pay a fine that he could not afford, and then incarcerated. A plantation owner would then pay the fine and then hire him until he could afford to pay off the fine. The peon was forced to work, locked up at night and if he escaped, was chased by bloodhounds until recaptured.
• Likewise, during the 1920’s, fortunate Blacks became sharecroppers
on land leased from whites whose grandparents had owned their fore bearers. However they were not allowed to vote, and were socially and economically relegated to the leftovers in education, earnings, and freedoms.
Land of the Free…Home of the Brave. Think About It!!!
The Struggle Continues…RLHSR.
This is the 50th year Anniversary of the Integration of the University of Alabama…
On June 11, 1963, in a ceremonial demonstration, Governor Wallace stood in front of the University of Alabama's Foster Auditorium and delivered a short speech in support of so-called states rights. Vivian Malone, and James Hood arrived at the University accompanied by United States Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, Wallace, backed by state troopers, refused them entry.
President John F. Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard later the same day, which put them under the command of the President, rather than the Governor of Alabama. Guardsmen escorted Malone and Hood back to the auditorium, where Wallace moved aside at the request of General Henry Graham. Malone and Hood then entered the building, albeit through another door.
You will never know the courage it took to integrate a heretofore white university in the Deep South in the early '60's. Isolated with virtually NO ONE to talk to or with, while being subjected to the most vile and vitriolic racism. I knew both James and Vivian. They were both ordinary persons who became extraordinary civil rights and university integration pioneers. Vivian died in 2005 and James Hood passed last week.
Every time I watch the make-up of NCAA Football Champions University of Alabama noting the number of Blacks, I cringe first…and then I ALWAYS think of Vivian and James. I often wonder if Blacks on the football team and at the University of Alabama have a clue as to the bravery and courage 50 years ago to get them where they are today.
God Bless their Spirits, and the sacrifices they made for the Struggle.
The Struggle Continues…RLHSR.
The U.S. Postal Service 2013 Rosa Parks (Forever®) stamp honors the life of this extraordinary American activist who became an iconic figure in the civil rights movement.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott took place in Montgomery, Alabama starting on December 5, 1955 following the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to relinquish her bus seat. African Americans remained off the buses through December 20, 1956, the day the system abolished segregated seating.
Of course, since boycotts were illegal in Montgomery, the term was never used by the protesters. But no matter its name, city buses running practically devoid of black passengers for 381 days are credited with inspiring the Modern Civil Rights Movement and launching the leadership of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Some action against segregation had been in the works for some time before Parks' arrest, under the leadership of E. D. Nixon, president of the Montgomery Branch NAACP and the president of the local chapter of the Brother hood of Sleeping Car Porters. Nixon intended that her arrest be a test case to allow Montgomery's black citizens to challenge segregationnon the city's public buses.
With this goal, community leaders had been waiting for the right person to be arrested, a person who would anger the black community into action, who would agree to test the segregation laws in court, and who, most importantly, was "above reproach." Parks was a good candidate because of her employment and marital status, along with her good standing in the community.
Between Parks' arrest and trial, Nixon organized a meeting of local ministers at Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s church. Though Nixon could not attend the meeting because of his work schedule, he arranged that no election of a leader for the proposed boycott would take place until his return. When he returned, he selected Rev. King to lead the boycott. Nixon wanted King to lead the boycott because the young minister was new to Montgomery and the city fathers had not had time to intimidate him. At a subsequent, larger meeting of ministers, Nixon's strategy was threatened by the clergy's reluctance to support the campaign. Nixon pointed out that their poor congregations worked to put money into the collection plates so these ministers could live well, and when those congregations needed the clergy to stand up for them, those comfortable ministers refused to do so. Nixon threatened to reveal the ministers' cowardice to the Black community. Rev. King spoke up, denying he was afraid to support the boycott. King agreed to lead the MIA, and Nixon was elected its treasurer.
381 Days: The Montgomery Bus Boycott Story offers a gripping account of the men and women whose non-violent approach to political and social change matured into a weapon of equality for all. Based on an exhibition created by Troy University Rosa Parks Library and Museum and dedicated to the memory of Rosa Parks. 381 Days was made possible through the Smithsonian Institution.
The Struggle Continues-RLHSR.