Tag Archives: race

Moyers Discusses the Myth of Black Emancipation [w/video]

The enslavement of Black Americans did not end on June 19, 1865; it continued until World War II.

In his March speech on race, Barack Obama said:

[W]e do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow….

Legalized discrimination – where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

A new book from Wall Street Journal reporter Douglas Blackmon explodes “that history” referenced by Obama and deepens modern understanding of Jim Crow and the Black Codes in Slavery By Another Name – The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II.

The book’s website explains:

Under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests. With no means to pay these ostensible “debts,” prisoners were sold as forced laborers to coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroads, quarries and farm plantations. Thousands of other African Americans were simply seized by southern landowners and compelled into years of involuntary servitude. Government officials leased falsely imprisoned blacks to small-town entrepreneurs, provincial farmers, and dozens of corporations—including U.S. Steel Corp.—looking for cheap and abundant labor. Armies of “free” black men labored without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and were forced through beatings and physical torture to do the bidding of white masters for decades after the official abolition of American slavery.

The neoslavery system exploited legal loopholes and federal policies which discouraged prosecution of whites for continuing to hold black workers against their wills. As it poured millions of dollars into southern government treasuries, the new slavery also became a key instrument in the terrorization of African Americans seeking full participation in the U.S. political system.

Bill Moyers talked with Blackmon on a recent episode of Bill Moyers’ Journal (watch an excerpted clip below the flip or the whole interview at PBS where you can also read the transcript): Continue reading

“Your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams…”

“…investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.” ~ Barack Obama

This is a call to all thinking people from any walk of life or any political orientation. Please set aside 40 or so minutes to listen to Senator Obama’s address on the subject of race in America. Or, if you prefer, carefully read the speech’s text.

Yes, there is a sentence or two about Senator Obama’s political positions, but 99% of the address is an earnest, thoughtful, sensitive and sophisticated sketch of how race sometimes divides America and the role race plays in American politics. Now, I’m not going to dare place Senator Obama in the rhetorical company of Martin Luther King, Jr and Malcolm X – that requires critical distance and the voice of scholars. I will say that Americans living today have not heard a such a candid, intellectual speech on this topic by an American of Obama’s stature in decades; in that context, today’s address may prove historic.

Obama said everything I try to say when I discuss race in America with others, but Obama does it far more eloquently, skillfully, and far more thoroughly then I. So please, realize that yes, Barack Obama is speaking for himself here and speaking in order to preserve his presidential campaign, but this man is also speaking for me and millions of others like me of all races who wish America could have a factual and enlightened discussion on how to make America great for all people. I hope after you consider the Senator’s words, you can say that he speaks for you, too, irrespective of who you want to occupy the White House come next January.

Here are two excerpts that resonated with me: Continue reading