Posted by Ricky Riley
White Abolitionists Ran the Movement
According to Amherst College Black Studies professor David Blight, the issue of race carried over into the abolitionist movement. While white and Black abolitionists wanted to get rid of slavery, they often disagreed on how. In many cases, white abolitionists dominated the movement.
“And it was also especially frustrating to Black abolitionists to deal sometimes with the kinds of abstract debates that abolitionists would have, that white abolitionists would have, over doctrine,”Blight said in a PBS interview. “In the 1850s, Black abolitionists were about the business of building their own communities, and trying to organize real strategies against slavery in the South.”
William Lloyd Garrison
White Abolitionists Belittled and Silenced Black Freedom Fighters
Journalist and suffragist William Lloyd Garrison became a stalwart in the abolitionist movement and an ally to former enslaved man and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. According to Blight, their relationship in the 1840s and 1850s could be described as parental and demeaning.
The Garrisionians — white abolitionists who modeled themselves after Garrison — only wanted Douglass to get up and tell his story. Douglass wanted to discuss the various issues of racism in the North as well as the South but was recommended not to. Blight believed that “there was a struggle among white and Black abolitionists about just what the proper role of a Black abolitionist was in this movement.”
Segregation in the North: Boston, Massachusetts
Garrison was one of a few white Christians who spearheaded the abolitionist movement, but many whites in the North did not believe racial equality was possible. Black abolitionists funded many white abolitionists groups but did not get the credit or opportunity to be the face of the movement. The Garrisonians were one group that took donations from free northern Blacks but refused to allow them to speak on the segregation they encountered.
After the Civil War, the abolitionist movement and the women’s movement, which was once inseparable, split over the 15th Amendment. The last Reconstruction Amendment was ratified on February 3, 1870. The federal and state government could not prevent anyone from voting based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
However, this new right made white feminists belligerent and uneasy. Despite the early support of Black abolitionists such as Douglass, suffragists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton could not fathom the idea that Black men might get to vote ahead of white women. This minor victory for Black people created newfound enemies.
The Strange Case of Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Author and historian Lori Ginzberg discussed Stanton’s blatant racism in 2009’s “Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life.” According to Ginzberg:
“Asked straight out whether she were ‘willing to have the colored man enfranchised before the woman,’ she answered ‘no; I would not trust him with all my rights; degraded, oppressed himself, he would be more despotic with the governing power than even our Saxon rulers are.’ ”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony
The Racism of White Feminism
The women’s suffrage movement was dominated by women from the upper class of 19th- and 20th-century American society. While their male family members ran society, they were stuck at home in subservient roles tending to children. Stanton and her contemporaries appeared at first to want to take down white supremacy.
However, after the passage of the 15th Amendment, it was revealed that they wanted to be a part of it. Author Barbara Andolsen pointed this out in her 1986 book, “Daughters of Jefferson, Daughters of Bootblacks: Racism and American Feminism.”
“They did not adequately identify ways in which that political power would not be accessible to poor women, immigrant women, and Black women,” she wrote.
As lynching and racial terror happened to Black people after the Civil War, white feminists were nowhere to be found. They benefited from their privilege.
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By Elliot Booker — 4 years agoThe Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative is building a memorial to lynching victims. The group estimates more than 4,000 African-Americans were lynched in the South between 1877-1950. Among those targeted were black veterans. These men returned from war abroad having experienced something unfamiliar to them: being treated with dignity and respect –– something they didn’t receive at home in the U.S. Many black veterans challenged the racial hierarchy of the South and were seen as threats to white supremacy. WBHM’s Esther Ciammachilli spoke with Bryan Stevenson, EJI’s founder and executive director, to learn more about the legacy of lynching and the history of racial inequality in America.
Ciammachilli: Why were white people concerned about the African-American veterans who were returning from war?
Stevenson: When World War I comes along and the country needs black people to help win this war and tens of thousands of African-Americans sign up to fight for the government, there’s a new threat to racial hierarchy. There’s a new threat to the sort of white supremacy that dominates political, social, and economic life because when these soldiers return after World War I and then certainly after World War II, they’ve now been exposed to a world outside of the emancipated South. They’ve been treated in many ways with dignity and respect. They’ve been armed, they’ve been trained, they’ve been disciplined, they’ve had success on the battlefield. And when you come back like that, you do pose a threat to people who are trying to create and sustain this world where black people only submit to whites, that they live in the margins, they get off the sidewalk when white people walk by. They don’t talk back. They don’t ask questions. They are subordinate. And so, targeting veterans and challenging any sense that freedom or autonomy or equality is something that they could expect meant that black veterans were experiencing racial violence at a much higher rate than other people, and the lynching of African-American veterans after World War I, after the Spanish-American War, after World War I, and then after World War II really points that out.
Ciammachilli: And of the thousands of blacks that were lynched in the South between 1877 and 1950, how many of them were veterans? Do we know that number?
Stevenson: It’s a hard thing to determine definitively because the reports about lynchings would almost always provide almost no information about who the person was and what their background was. Our research is increasingly suggestive that as many as 10% were people who had some prior military experience.
Ciammachilli: And did this violence against black veterans only take place in the South or was it more widespread?
Stevenson: It was more widespread. I mean the states that had the highest number of lynchings were all in the American South, but you would find you know these threats all over the country. I mean in the north and the west where millions of black people were fleeing to from the South in response to lynching. There were these growing numbers of African-Americans which of course created challenges and tensions in those communities. So, you would certainly see this and in the Midwest and Ohio and Michigan and Illinois in Indiana. You would see it in the far west –– California Arizona, the northwest, you’d see it in the northeast. It was more concentrated in the American South because the American South, of course, had a rigid legalized system of Jim Crow and of segregation. And black soldiers would be tempted to step across those lines. They no longer thought that it was appropriate that they have to drink out of a colored fountain, or go to an inferior bathroom, or to get out of the way just because a white person was walking down the street.
Ciammachilli: They challenged the white supremacy.
Stevenson: Exactly. That’s right. This narrative of racial differences, ideology of white supremacy, was something that I think black soldiers felt obligated to challenge having fought for American freedom and equality.
Success abroad was also enhancing that. You know black battalions fought valiantly in France during World War I and were highly decorated and recognized. The same was true of World War II. And to be embraced by these these embattled European communities and treated as heroes to then be treated as less than human as inferior and not worthy of any dignity or respect when they got back to the American South was very difficult to accept. And so there were tensions and conflicts emerging from that.
Ciammachilli: And you know I want to talk about actually what it was like for these men who enlisted to fight for the American freedom that they did not enjoy as civilians. What was life like for these men while they were in the military? Were they seen as equals by their white counterparts?
Stevenson: Well even in the military there was segregation, and that’s why this was a national problem, not just a southern problem. The United States military did not permit black people to serve alongside of white people. You know during World War I or World War II, but they fought so valiantly and effectively that it became harder and harder for the American government to justify this kind of segregation. But there’s no question that even during their military service they had to deal with racial segregation and racial separate separation. But I think there was still an affirming experience because they were armed they were trained they were empowered to do things that they could not do on domestic soil and then they had success. And I think that success really created a consciousness that, you know, we cannot continue to accept this white supremacy, this ideology that we’re somehow less capable. And you know there were many leaders in the African-American community that were urging black people to fight during World War I and certainly during World War II on the hope that valiant service, successful service, would then create payment from the American government of freedom of equality. It would ensure that the American government would do more to eliminate Jim Crow and segregation and to end the terrorism and violence that black people had endured since emancipation.
Ciammachilli: And you know speaking of emancipation and following the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868, which states that all those born in the United States regardless of race are subject to the same “privileges and immunities” of citizens, following the passage of the 14th Amendment, several states actually made moves passed laws that essentially stripped certain rights from black veterans. Can you talk about some of those laws?
Stevenson: I mean, I do think that one of the challenges that we have in American society is that we haven’t really come to grips with how burdened we are by our history of racial inequality. I really don’t believe we’re free in this country. I think we’ve all been compromised. We’ve all been infected by this narrative of racial difference. I think our history of racial inequality has created a kind of smog that we all breathe in and it creates problems for us even today. It doesn’t take much to create distrust or offense or conflict. And I think that’s a product of our failure to deal honestly with this history.
I think we are a post-genocide society in America. I think what happened to native people when white settlers came to this continent was a genocide. And we haven’t done the things you’re supposed to do to recover from genocide, we had millions of native people slaughtered through famine and war and disease and we haven’t really addressed that. What we did instead was create this narrative of racial difference. We said, “Oh no, those native people, they’re savages. We don’t have to worry about their victimization.” And that narrative shaped the legacy of slavery. And as I’ve said, I don’t believe the great evil of American slavery was involuntary servitude or forced labor. I think the great evil of American slavery was the ideology of white supremacy. It’s the narrative we created to make ourselves feel comfortable owning other people we said black people aren’t the same as white people that got these deficits. They’re not fully human. And that problem wasn’t addressed with the constitutional amendments. They don’t talk about ending the narrative of racial difference or the ideology of white supremacy and because of that, you see states –– as you suggest –– creating local statutes and ordinances that are designed to prevent enforcement of rights under the 13th and 14th Amendment. And because of that, I don’t think slavery end in the 1860s, I think it just evolves. And the era of lynching and terrorism and violence that we witnessed in this country between the end of Reconstruction and World War II is dramatic evidence of that. There’s never been a time when you could see thousands of people gathering to witness a black man or woman or child being burned alive, being mutilated, being brutalized and murdered in the public square with no risk of prosecution.
Ciammachilli: As if it’s entertainment.
Stevenson: It was like a carnival. And the people didn’t wear a mask. People tend to think that this was violence committed by hate groups and the Klan. No these were unmasked leading citizens. It was often the elites, the teachers, the doctors, the writers, the people who were the business leaders of a community that participated in this violence and these mass atrocities were devastating to our commitment to the rule of law. And I don’t think we’re going to be a healthy nation until we acknowledge and recognize this legacy. When you go to South Africa, you can’t spend time there without being confronted with the history of apartheid. If you go to Rwanda they will make you listen to the stories of the genocide. Germany has created a new identity for itself by memorializing and marking the legacy created by the Holocaust. You can’t go a hundred meters in Berlin, Germany without seeing a marker or a stone that’s been placed next to the home of a Jewish family. The Germans want you to go to the Holocaust Memorial and reflect soberly on that history. But in this country we don’t talk about slavery. We don’t talk about lynching. We don’t really talk about the legacy of segregation. Here in Alabama, we’ve got hundreds of memorials and monuments honoring and recognizing the Confederacy. We romanticize that era. We celebrate Confederate Memorial Day as a state holiday. We celebrate Jefferson Davis’ birthday as a state holiday here in Alabama. We don’t have Martin Luther King Day we had Martin Luther King/Robert Lee day. And yet with this preoccupation with mid-nineteenth century history we do not talk about slavery. There’s no place in the state you can go and have an honest experience with the legacy of slavery. We don’t talk about lynching.
And so, our work is really aimed at changing that. We put out these reports about lynching and slavery. We’re going to build a museum here in Montgomery. We’re going to create a national memorial to victims of lynching. But we’re doing it because we want to create a different relationship to this history, not just for African-Americans, but for everybody. I think we will all benefit from dealing more directly, more honestly, more soberly with this legacy and we can change our identity too just as Germany has, just as Rwanda has, just as in South Africa. But we can’t do it by continuing to deny and resist efforts at confronting and acknowledging this troubling past.
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By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
Today’s REVIVE show topic is entitled:
It would be amazing to hear your perspective. So please call in we want to hear what you guys out there have to say always. Once again this show is for the people. We here at REVIVE thrive off of communication. So call us at (215)490-9832. This episode of REVIVE will be an open forum so all perspectives can be heard through great conversation.
This episode on REVIVE is entitled “Wednesday Edition!” This is a jam-packed show with amazing guests and dynamic conversation! Join in the fun and spread the word!
Porschia Percell: Porschia Percell founder and creator of Cultures of Can’douR . A South Carolina native, Porschia has always had a deep appreciation and love for not only fashion, but all things creative. At an early age, she was introduced to fashion by her mother who studied Fashion Merchandising in college. “I can remember as a kid plundering through my mom’s closet trying on all her vintage shoes and clothing.” Her love for fashion grew deeper at the age of 12 when she picked up her first sketch pencil and began designing. “I remember that day like it was yesterday.” “Cultures of Can’douR is much bigger than me and my ability to create. It’s about creating a culture of individuals who openly express themselves and feel confident about it. It’s about getting people to see that different is DOPE and COURAGEOUS. I think loving yourself is the best form of bravery that one could ever have. Through fashion, visual film, and other creative outlets, I’m going to change the way individuals see themselves and I won’t stop until it’s finished.” That’s where Cultures of Can’douR was born.
Kaliek Hayes: Kaliek Hayes is the cofounder of Childhoodslost Entertainment Group (CHL) and Childhoodslost Foundation. A native of South Philadelphia, Kaliek grew up the middle child of five children. Like many children whose childhood experiences are significantly impacted and negatively influenced by plights resulting from broken homes, and disadvantaged environments, so was Kaliek’s. As a child, the tragic loss of a close friend, affected Kaliek’s life in profound ways, but eventually inspired the concept of Childhoodslost. Kaliek considers himself to be a simple man, but five years in the making, Kaliek’s vision has transformed Childhoodslost into something extraordinary. Childhoodslost affords youth the opportunities, to deal with issues affecting their childhoods in creative ways that strengthen their will to live in their purpose. Kaliek is the author of Childhoodslost the book, which inspired Childhoodslost the play. Kaliek is currently Co authoring a book focusing on the effects of childhood trauma. Kaliek believes that his success is contingent upon his hard work ethic and passion to live in his purpose, which is to strengthen Childhoodslost Foundation to be the voice for particularly, the youth who have suffered the pains and hardships of a childhood lost.
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It would be amazing to hear your perspective. So please call in we want to hear what you guys the listening audience out there have to say always. Once again this show is for the people. We here at REVIVE thrive off of communication. So call us at (215)490-9832 & follow on Twitter, Facebook & IG @REVIVE_POC !
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By Elliot Booker — 4 years ago
In a country where our ancestors were brought here as kidnapped captives, it’s important to know the stories that show the strength, courage, spirituality, of our forefathers. We live in a multimedia driven world, and images are important. That’s why from its early inception to now, images of Black people has always been negative, and very limited in the amount of stories or non-fictional accounts that show that show Black people taking control of their situations, or rebellions. A recent example is “The Birth of a Nation”, the story centering around the life of Nat Turner, and the story of the Haitian Revolution and the lives of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Dutty Boukman, Toussaint Louverture, the project that Danny Glover has been working on and finding difficult. These and other stories need to be told and discussed, by our adults, then with our children. Stories of Black men and women fighting for FREEDOM, not equality, there’s a difference. Read and share the story below, and leave your comments.
WE MUST NEVER FORGET!!!
MILLIKEN’S BEND JUNE 7th 1863
LINCOLN’S PROCLAMATION NEVER FREED ANYONE, OUR ANCESTOR’S ACTED AGAINST WHITE SOUTHERNERS TO SECURE THEIR OWN FREEDOM!
One of the fiercest battles of the Civil War was fought in Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana between Confederate troops and black regiments of the Union Army. Most of the black infantry had minimal training, were outnumbered and ill-equipped. Nevertheless, in close hand-to-hand combat, they defeating Confederate soldiers at Milliken’s Bend, in the critical battle for Vicksburg.
In most cases, these Black troops were allowed only two to three weeks of military training before being thrown into battle against the war-tested Confederate veterans and their vicious and spiteful commanders. Black men faced a peril unknown to their white soldier’s on the Union side. Slaves one day, soldiers fighting against their former masters the next, these black men excited the wrath and contempt of the vicious Confederate generals like Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest and Pierre Beauregard, the man who started the war at Fort Sumter, South Carolina on April 15, 1861. Black men falling into the hands of such generals were either put to death immediately or returned to slavery, rather than being accorded the status of prisoners of war.
The men who fought at Milliken’s Bend were literally fresh off the plantation, and none had been in the service for more than a month when the battle occurred. Some had just entered the service days before, and had not even been issued weapons. A significant factor in the battle was the lack of training of Union troops. Even the white officers were learning their new duties. Even without the pressure of a Confederate attack, the Union forces were undermanned and in disarray.
The fact that these men managed to fight at all is something of a small miracle. That they fought well, with minimal training and poor weaponry – and in fact, earned praise from the Confederate commander – makes their attempt to stand at Milliken’s Bend significant.
Confederate Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton and his army were besieged in Vicksburg, Mississippi, by Union commander Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee.
In an effort to cut Grant’s supply line and relieve the city, the Confederates attacked the Union supply area at Milliken’s Bend up the Mississippi. The Milliken’s Bend area, 15 miles to the northwest of Vicksburg, had until recently served as a staging area for Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign. It was a site of supply depots and hospitals, many of which were manned and guarded by black soldiers, some of whom were recently recruited men who were freed slaves. At Milliken’s Bend were 1410 soldiers, only 160 of them white (i.e., the 23rd Iowa regiment). The rest were three newly recruited Black Regiments—The First Mississippi (African Descent) and the Ninth and Eleventh Louisiana (Corps d Afrique, or African Corps). They were attacked here on June 7, about 8 o’clock in the morning, outnumbered by a brigade of Confederate troops, about 2,500 in number. In one of the bloodiest battles of the war, African American troops engaged attacking Confederates in fierce hand-to-hand combat, fighting with bayonets, fists, and rifle butts, or firing their weapons at extremely close range.
Brigadier General Henry McCullough, who commanded the Confederate forces, later noted that his
“charge was resisted by the negro portion of the enemy’s force with considerable obstinacy, while the white or true Yankee position ran like whipped curs almost as soon as the charge was ordered.”
The African American troops paid dearly for their bravery. Heaviest hit was the 9th Louisiana Infantry. Almost 45 percent of the unit’s men were killed or mortally wounded — the highest percentage of a regiment killed in a single battle in the entire war. Finally, with their backs to the Mississippi, they received the support of a Navy gunboat, and their line held.
Absent from the schoolbooks and television miniseries about the Civil War, however, are those truly great battles fought and won by the Black volunteers in Mississippi and Louisiana and elsewhere in the South. In most cases, these Black troops were allowed only two to three weeks of military training before being thrown into battle against the war-tested Confederate veterans and their vicious and spiteful commanders. Today Milliken’s Bend lies largely forgotten, Neither Ulysses Grant nor William Sherman gave Milliken’s Bend much attention in their autobiographies. Grant gave perfunctory acknowledgement to the black troops in saying that this was the first real test of black troops in combat. And that they had passed the test quite admirably. Yet, only six-months before Grant’s crossing of the River south of Vicksburg, near Port Gibson, Milliken’s Bend had served as his main base of operations. As late as January 20,1863, he had tried to launch an assault against Vicksburg from Milliken’s Bend and Young’s Point, 11 miles to the south, but his forces were repulsed savagely at Chickasaw Bayou north of Vicksburg.
A letter from Captain M. M. Miller at MILLIKEN’S BEND to his aunt stated:
I never felt more grieved and sick at heart than when I saw how my brave soldiers had been slaughtered, one with six wounds, all the rest with two or three, none less than two wounds. Two of my colored sergeants were killed, both brave, noble men; always prompt, vigilant, and ready for the fray. I never more wish to hear the expression, “The niggers wont fight.” Come with me 100 yards from where I sit and I can show you the wounds that cover the bodies of brave, loyal, and patriotic soldiers as ever drew bead on a rebel.
‘The enemy charged us so close that we fought with our bayonets hand to hand. I have six broken bayonets to show how bravely my men fought. The Twenty-third Iowa joined my company on the right, and I declare truthfully that they had all fled before our regiment fell back, as we were all compelled to do.
‘Under command of Colonel Page I led the Ninth and Eleventh Louisiana when the rifle-pits were retaken and held by our troops, our two regiments doing the work.
‘I narrowly escaped death once. A rebel took deliberate [aim] at me with both barrels of his gun, and the bullets passed so close to me that the powder that remained on them burned my cheek. Three of my men who saw him aim and fire thought that he wounded me each fire. One of them was killed by my side, and he fell on me, covering my clothes with his blood, and before the rebel could fire again I blew his brains out with my gun.
‘It was a horrible fight, the worst I was ever engaged in, not even excepting Shiloh. The enemy cried, “No quarters,” but some of them were very glad to take it when made prisoners.
‘Colonel Allen, of the seventeenth Texas, was killed in front of our regiment, and Brigadier General Walker was wounded. We killed about 180 of the enemy. The gun-boat Choctaw did good service shelling them. I stood on the breast-works after we took them, and gave the elevations and direction for the gun-boat by pointing my sword, and they sent a shell right into their midst, which sent them in all directions. Three shells fell there and 62 rebels lay there when the fight was over.
‘My wound is not serious, but troublesome. What few men I have left seem to think much of me because I stood up with them in the fight. I can say for them that I never saw a braver company of men in my life.
‘Not one of them offered to leave his place until ordered to fall back; in fact, very few ever did fall back. I went down to the hospital three miles today to see the wounded. Nine of them were there, two having died of their wounds. A boy I had cooking for me came and begged a gun when the rebels were advancing, and took his place with the company, and when we retook the breast-works I found him badly wounded with one gunshot and two bayonet wounds. A new recruit I had issued a gun to the day before the fight was found dead, with a firm grasp on his gun, the bayonet of which was broken in three pieces So they fought and died defending the cause that we revere. They met death coolly, bravely; not rashly did they expose themselves, but all were steady and obedient to orders.
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