“Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.”
By: Marchell Norris
Philosopher, essayist poet and novelist. (16 December 1863 – 26 September 1952)
Since the onset of the computer revolution in the early 1960s, early modern business and government records have allowed historians to retrieve information on 35,000 slave voyages from Africa to the Americas and make the information available on the internet. For many of these voyages, we have rich detail on the slave ship itineraries, as well as who was put on board, who survived and how they traveled.
Within the United States, we now know that slave voyages left from almost every port and that although Rhode Island might be well-known as a slave trading region, it was far from synonymous with the U.S. slave trade. New York and Charleston, South Carolina, were also major centers.
The first slaves arrived in Virginia around 1619, and slavery existed in America for the next 250 years. Africans made up the largest number of migrants to the New World during the colonial era, especially during the eighteenth century. During the four centuries of the Atlantic slave trade, an estimated 11 million Africans were transported to North and South America.
In the United States, slaves had no rights. A slave could be bought and sold just like a cow or horse. Slaves had no say in where they lived or who they worked for. They had no representation in government. Slaves could not own property and were not allowed to learn or be taught how to read and write.
Fearing that black literacy would prove a threat to the slave system whites in the Deep South (the states which were most dependent on plantation type agriculture during the pre-Civil War period) passed laws forbidding slaves to learn to read or write and making it a crime for others to teach them. For example, in 1740 South Carolina passed the following legislation:
“Whereas, the having slaves taught to write, or suffering them to be employed in writing, may be attended with great inconveniences; Be it enacted, that all and every person and persons whatsoever, who shall hereafter teach or cause any slave or slaves to be taught to write, or shall use or employ any slave as a scribe, in any manner of writing whatsoever, hereafter taught to write, every such person or persons shall, for every such offense, forfeit the sum of one hundred pounds, current money.”
The Emancipation Proclamation:
The Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863. Reconstruction policies were implemented when a Confederate state came under the control of the Union Army. President Abraham Lincoln set up reconstructed governments in several southern states during the war, including Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
Black Codes was a name given to laws passed by southern governments established during the democrat president Andrew Johnson. were legal statutes and constitutional amendments enacted by the ex-Confederate states following the Civil War that sought to restrict the liberties of newly freed slaves, ensure a supply of inexpensive agricultural labor, and maintain white dominated hierarchy.
the “Jim Crow” laws were a whole series of measures indented to keep blacks and whites apart, living lives that were “separate but equal” in all kinds of ways. They were not, as Wasserman Schultz inferred, simply about keeping blacks from voting.
the U.S. Supreme Court began to chip away at them in its landmark 1954 decision in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the “Jim Crow” laws were a stain on our national character, one put there by the Democrats.
The Democratic Party’s longtime love affair with segregation is undeniable. It was a Democrat, Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who famously proclaimed “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever
The first African Free School was opened in New York City in 1787. The school’s mission was to educate black children to take their place as equals to white American citizens. It began as a single-room schoolhouse with about forty students, the majority of whom were the children of slaves. This school and six others in the city began receiving public funding in 1824.
In 1849 Charles Sumner helped Sarah C. Roberts to sue the city of Boston for refusing to admit black children to its schools. Their case was lost but in 1855 the Massachusetts Legislature changed its policy and declared that “no person shall be excluded from a Public School on account of race, colour or prejudice.”
“I assert then that poverty, ignorance, and degradation are the combined evils; or in other words, these constitute the social disease of the free colored people of the United States. To deliver them from this triple malady, is to improve and elevate them, by which I mean simply to put them on an equal footing with their white fellow countrymen in the sacred right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I am for no fancied or artificial elevation, but only ask fair play. How shall this be obtained? …………. What can be done to improve the condition of the free people of color in the United States? The plan which I humbly submit in answer to this inquiry …………. is the establishment in Rochester, or in some other part of the United States equally favorable to such an enterprise, of an Industrial College ……”
“Our school begun – in spite of threatenings from the whites, and the consequent fear of the blacks – with twenty-seven pupils, four only of whom could read, even the simplest words. At the end of six weeks, we have enrolled eighty-five names, with but fifteen unable to read. In seven years teaching at the North, I have not seen a parallel to their appetite for learning, and their active progress… Their spirit now may be estimated somewhat, when I tell you that three walk a distance of four miles, each morning, to return after the five hours session. Several come three miles, and quite a number from two and two-and-a-half miles.”
In the aftermath of the Civil War, African Americans adapted to life as free people with the help of Black church leaders as well as a federal organization known as the Freedmen’s Bureau. The Bureau helped freedmen establish schools, purchase land, and legalize their marriages, however, funding limitations and deeply held racist attitudes forced the Bureau to close in 1872. African Americans were largely abandoned to contend on their own with persistent racial attitudes and discrimination. Many continued to work for their former masters as sharecroppers or tenant farmers in a vicious cycle of debt peonage.
In the twentieth century, the modern civil rights movement put pressure on the courts to address discriminative practices, especially segregation in public facilities and in the nation’s public schools.