The Hanging Place
Recently, in our local newspaper, there was a small story at the bottom of page one. Evidentally, the president of our local historical society is spearheading the memorialization of a piece of land where we live. The reason for the memorial is to pay tribute to land where "people" were once hanged... death by hanging. The further down I read, the more angry I became. The article said, the hangings took place in the early 1800's, hence... quite a while ago. Not once did this article say exactly who these "people" were who were hanged. Then, you get way down, at the bottom, of the article, and it finally mentions what I knew all along... the hanged were black men. Another part of the article I found very interesting was, a question someone from the city asked the historical society president. He asked him if it wouldn't be better to put a small plaque up on the land, saying that was the place where the last hanging here took place. The man said, he just thinks the land is historical because of what happened there! I wondered, "Why on earth would anyone be PROUD to admit- let alone publicize- the fact that these attrocities took place here?" The ONLY part of this that is remotely "historic" is the land, itself... not what happened there. Sure... it happened, but do we memorialize every, single piece of history there is? Of course not! Another thing I'm wondering (though, I already know the answer to), is... if these were white men who were hanged, would we even be discussing this? Of course not! Living in the south, I'm well aware that things like this happened. It seems to take on a much greater meaning, though, when you're right there and it's in your face. I wonder what sort of message this action, and others like it, will give to the children who live here. Will they continue to grow up as they are now, with parents and other relatives who teach them how to hate and teach them not to love? WIll there be this obvious separation, between whites and other races (namely, blacks), forcing kids to mistreat and abuse one another... the same way it is now? Will we grow old and our children mature, having been through enough racism to last a lifetime... and having weathered the damage done by hurtful names and words that cut to the core... the very same way it is now? Unfortunately, I have a sickening feeling the answer to that question is, yes. As long as the adults, the parents, the individuals who run this city, harbor such destructive ideals and thinking, the children here haven't got a chance, and that's the sad part.
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