Blacks Were SLAVES
Brutality should never be forgotten
Slavery is very real to me
One night I was in a wine bar having dinner when a guy I know to be racist made some statements that he thought would get my attention. He said that the State of California had given taken from him President’s Day and given him Cesar Chavez Day and Martin Luther King’s birthday instead. Obviously, that is a lie because I work for the state and we still celebrate President’s Day and no one has ever given me Cesar Chavez Day off. However, it illustrates the new revisionist’s attitude of people such as Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell who declared, recently, that April was Confederate History Month. Several Southern governors have done this, but none have ever made the gaffe that McDonnell made. He did not mention slavery in his proclamation because he said it was insignificant in Virginia history. There is a new movement afoot to deny the evils of slavery as a cause for the Civil War. They want to deny the history of my ancestors as if it never happened. It makes me sad, but what it really does is cut me to my core.
After my daughter was born, I thought that I would like to provide her with her heritage in written from. She is African, we believe Cherokee, and Guatemalan of Spanish heritage. It really came home to me when started looking on the web for information about slaves in East Texas. It took me about an hour to come upon this narrative by my great-great-great uncle, Abe Bean, where he describes his life as a slave during the Civil War.
He talks about his master and then he mentions his father, Phil Bean, who happens to have the same name as my grandfather. I plugged the information he gave into Ancestry.com and anyone who knows about this site knows about the little green leaves that lead you to other people in my family. I was able to go back to 1870, which is the first census where my Grandfather Phil Bean was able to give his name and the name of his children. Sure enough, there was Abe, the youngest. My grandfather gave his year of birth as 1830. Abe reports that he belonged, most likely a Cherokee, named Jack Bean. As far as I can surmise, Jack traveled with my Grandfather from Jasper, Tx to the small towns around East Texas and Louisiana. He had two families, one in Jasper and one in Woodville. My great grandfather, who was also named Phil was an adult when the war ended. However, before 1870, my grandfather is just a number who is counted as 3/5 of a human being. I cannot pinpoint him among the many slaves that Jack Bean owned. That is where my trail ends for the African-American side of my family. To complete my task, I am going to have to do my daughter’s and my DNA.
My Uncle Abe talks in his narrative about how one of his master’s twin sons dies in the war and I understand the tragedy that is war. However, it amazes me that in this day and age people can try and deny the importance of slavery in American history. I bet if Mr. Mcdonnell looks up his family history, he can follow it back to the old countries of Europe. His children will always have that ability. For my daughter, there are no such records because her ancestors were brought here on ships as chattel property and bought and sold for over 400 year. In my lifetime, we had to fight for the right to be equal in a country that we have fought and died for.
Slavery is a very personal matter to me as it is to most African Americans. Denying our history is apart of American history though and we understand that. It has allowed us to be brutalized and marginalized for centuries. The denial of our humanity has always been justified in one manner or another. Mcdonnell is just carrying on that legacy and no apology will ever fix that.