The PBS documentary “Slavery By Another Name” will seen chills through in freedom-loving person. While slavery in America technically ended shortly after the Civil War, southerners know bondage continued in one form or another until the 1960s.
This documentary tells the story of Blacks and some Whites who were put in jail or prison for nonsensical reasons and later had their services sold to private parties by the local or state government. As we have said over and over on this blog, you can’t really trust or depend on the government.
The financial chains of sharecropping didn’t end until the 1970s; it’s called the Dirty South for a reason. During Black History Month, young people should watch these hard to view stories and learn that they have it so much better. But as they say, you study history because it has a way of repeating itself. Debt, addiction and blatant ignorance are the modern chains and these restrictions are often self-inflicted. Some wondered if we run the risk of moving forward at a slower rate while I content that we actually could go backwards. Freedom should be precious.
Slavery By Another Name: Full program http://video.pbs.org/video/2176766758
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Henrietta Lacks’ contributions to medical research are amazing but were unknown to her when she died in Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951. Taken without her permission, her cancer cells or HeLa cells have growth in lab settings better than any cell lines and are central to many medical breakthroughs while her family is uninsured.
“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is part Black history book, part biology book and part spiritual book. Rebecca Skloot wrote a fine novel and I hope that money from the movie rights will fund Lacks’ grandchildren’s education. Henrietta gave in life and continues giving to this day. Can you imagine a biology student working with living cells that belong to his grandmother.
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Posted in politics, tagged black history on February 26, 2009 |
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The term “Black history” is not only the study of Blacks in history but also the study of Blacks in American and international history. At my Black college, we said Black is not a chapter in American history; America is a brief chapter in Black history.
History is not reserved for names and events we can easily recite. The schools and churches that toiled selflessly to keep the Black family strong and composed during bleak periods in our past belong to history.
History is often revisited, revised and rewritten. Does history change or do we change? I want to admit now wrong I was about a local piece of history in South Georgia.
An often forgotten aspect of American history is the toil in agriculture of slaves, former slaves and sharecroppers until the early 1970s. We must remember the sons and daughters of the South and their contributions to building the economy of this nation.
As a child, a mural of Blacks farm workers in field covered the wall of the local post office—White bosses were keeping records and “supervising.” When the new post office open after I was an adult, the mural found its way into the new building. The want-a-be radicals among us considered going covert be cooler heads prevailed.
Chester J. Tingler did the mural in 1939 as part of the New Deal Post Office Artwork project commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Department. It is my understanding that many of the artists were attempting to record the efforts and importance of the Black workers rather than subjugate them/us. So, I appreciate that art from a different perspective—it’s indispensable Black history to me.
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Posted in politics, tagged black history on February 16, 2009 |
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MLK and Summer Farm work in Connecticut
My friend Walt is a Morehouse Man as was his father, a recently passed Black surgeon in South Georgia. As the community remembered this prominent physician’s service in medicine and the military, many people learned that “Doc” and Dr. King worked together on farms in Connecticut during their Morehouse College years. They enjoyed the freedom of dining and seeing movies without the Jim Crow restrictions of the South so much that many of the students were sadden when their train back to Georgia reached D.C. and they had to return to the Negro section.
Since my father was an agriculture teacher from North Carolina A&T and Tuskegee (and a fraternity brother of Doc and Dr. King,) I heard this story many times as a child. I spent some summers doing hard farm work in the south Georgia sun and was extreme motivated to achieve academically the next school year. Oldheads in the fields would say, “You boys are here for pocket money and muscles; and you white boys get to work on your tans but can you image working like this for someone else for forty years.”
A little hard work during the formative years can really help with perspective today but it did other things for Dr. King back in the day.
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