Deniers of History
We Cannot Erase the Past
Perception becomes fact in the mind of a person who allows their philosophy to trump documented events in history. The danger occurs when those with skewed vision and blinded by ideology, wish to erase and rewrite the past.
The Price of Ignorance
Naysayers come out of the woodwork when discussing topics of creationism, evolution, global warming, the holocaust, genocide of the North American Indian and slavery. The annals of time should neither be forgotten nor altered. Individuals and groups are relentless in their attempts to rework actual events to fit their own agendas. Ignorance carries an astronomical price and blurring the vision of future generations by misleading information is definitely not the road we should travel down.
Dutch Slave Ship Arrives in 1619
Captain John Smith led an expedition of English colonists in 1607. These settlers landed in Cape Henry, Virginia and established the first English settlement in the Western Hemisphere. Within 12 years (In 1619) a Dutch ship arrived in Jamestown, Virginia and sold 20 African slaves to the European settlers in order to toil in the tobacco fields. Thirty-two years later (1641) Massachusetts became the first colony to legalize slavery. Yes, the bondage of Africans in North America had its onset and the evil stain of bigotry, racism and slavery had begun, as this land bled for centuries.
Presidents and Slaves
Interestingly, many of our founding fathers owned, sold and even traded slaves.
George Washington - At one point, he owned 216 slaves.
Thomas Jefferson - Had as many as 141 slaves.
James Madison - Owned 100 slaves.
James Monroe - Owned between 30 to 40 slaves.
Andrew Jackson - Had possession of approximately 160 slaves.
Martin Van Buren - Had 6 slaves.
William Henry Harrison - Did own slaves, but the numbers are vague.
John Tyler - Although he owned slaves he did not allow their families to be broken apart and refused to let his overseers whip his slaves.
James K. Polk - Had 15 slaves.
Zachary Taylor - Owned around 100 slaves.
James Buchanan - Wanted to make Kansas a slave state. He also felt the Constitution should be amended to permit slavery to remain in the states where it already existed.
Andrew Johnson - Had 8 slaves.
Shackles of a Slave
Chained and Naked 1.5 to 2 Million Died
It has been estimated when the slave trade ended in the 1860s that at least 12 million Africans had been transported to the Americas. Chained, naked, living in rancid filth and crammed into ships men, women and children would spend two to three months on the journey across the Atlantic Ocean. A cycle of insanity occurred when European ships would trade agricultural products, farmed by slaves in the Americas with Africa in exchange for more slaves to be bought and sold. Reports of 1.5 to 2 million African deaths occurred during the horrendous journey across the ocean. With the invention of the cotton gin came an explosion of new southern cotton plantations. Based on Federal census, by 1850 there were 1.8 million slaves laboring in the cotton industry as the total number of slaves in North America totaled 3.2 million.
Humans For Sale
Indentured for Life
It is unimaginable to comprehend what went through the minds of people being bought and sold on an open market. How does one live knowing they will never be free and that their loved ones can be snatched from them at any given time? Women, men, children and the elderly were forced to work in the fields from the time the sun rose in the morning until the time the sun set in the evening, wearing rags for clothing and surviving off of a basic diet. Conversely, it is beyond comprehension to fathom what went through the minds of a slave dealer. How does one justify the buying, selling and trading of human life?
Sold to the Highest Bidder
Today tourists flock to the beauty and architecture of Alexandria, Virginia and in particular Old Town. King Street is the main scene for shopping and sightseeing as travelers marvel at the magnificent buildings and brick and cobblestone walkways that lead down to the Potomac River. Two blocks over from King Street and running parallel to it is Duke Street where a small, unassuming three-story brick home stands. The building was known as the Franklin and Armfield Slave Pen and was operated by Isaac Franklin and John Armfield as a “Negro Jail” and subsequently exported more than 3,750 slaves to the Deep South. Not too far away and still on Duke Street was the Bruin Slave Jail. Joseph Bruin partnered with Henry Hill in the sale of slaves to other slave dealers or individuals. Bruin and Hill placed an advertisement in the Alexandria Gazette in December 1845 which read: "NEGROES WANTED: All persons having Negroes to sell will find ready sale and liberal prices for them by calling at the new establishment of BRUIN & HILL."
Please Master Don't Sell My Family
In an ideal world, everything would be equal and racial inequality would end once President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Sadly, that has not been the case and it seems as though each day brings on a new wave of hatred to groups who are non-caucasian.
African Americans Targeted By Hate
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has issued some alarming, but not surprising statistics on hate groups that specifically target African Americans:
Ku Klux Klan (163)
White Nationalist (128)
Racist Skinhead (126)
Hate Crime Statistics
According to the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990, hate crimes are “crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.” States with the highest numbers of hate groups are:
New Jersey (44)
New York (42)
Clothes of a Slave
Human Bondage Is Not The Answer
Although this article focused on African Americans, it should be noted slavery was not race based. Athens and Sparta used serfs back in the 7th century BC. Rome began the practice of overseers who beat and whipped their slaves for 200 years beginning in the 2nd century BC. From the 6th century to the 15th-century slaves were used all over the world. Due to geography, the Mediterranean region served as the epicenter for slave trading. The Germans and Russians had rounded up so many Slavs that they coined the generic word slave. The Muslim and Arab world also embraced slavery in their households. Finally, from the 15th to the 17th-century European ships deliver slaves to Portugal and Brazil in what appears to be the never-ending business of human bondage.
Oklahoma Wants to Rewrite History
It is 2015 and Oklahoma's Republicans want to rewrite American history. Seriously, Oklahoma! Apparently, the right wing conservatives in Oklahoma are attempting to skip over factual events that helped change and shape this country. These politicians no longer want the Advanced Placement U.S. History classes showcasing such things in our dark past as genocide, oppression, exploitation of humans, and of course, slavery. In the limited scope of the conservative right they claim all that is taught now is "What is bad about America," and there isn't enough emphasis on "American exceptionalism." They dislike America's Founding Fathers being portrayed as "bigots." Well, to these Oklahoma republicans all I can say is, "If the shoe fits, then wear it!" I am appalled by their behavior.
The Evils of Suppression
It is astonishing that there are some who are on the lower end of the economic scale and with limited education who still have the audacity to think they are superior to others. To suppress, demean, belittle and despise another race of people is unconscionable and incomprehensible. Will equality ever be achieved or will we continue to repeat the evils of the past? Only time will hold the answer to this question, but time has shown the superior gene is in our DNA.
Written By: Dennis L. Page