Black History Fun Fact Friday – Benjamin Banneker: Time Well Spent by Keyshawn McMiller

Today’s Black History Fun Fact Friday is from our special guest writer, Keyshawn McMiller. McMiller is a Senior Social Work major at Florida A&M University, and a current two-time published author (Ideals From A Young Black Introvert). Keyshawn aspires to one day, become a licensed counselor and ultimately, open the minds of traditional minority communities to the advantages of professional self-help.


The next time you ponder the great polymaths of the world such as Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln, be sure to include another prominent Renaissance Man in Benjamin Banneker. A free-status African American raised on a Maryland farm that would eventually be bequeathed to him, Banneker was fortunate enough to attend a Quaker school. Though, he was primarily self-educated, relying on loaned books to learn the bulk of his skills. While in his 20’s, his knack for mathematics was demonstrated as he constructed a working wooden clock based on studying pocket watches. This accomplishment would only be the beginning of Banneker’s successes, as an interest in astronomy brought on by Quaker Astronomer, George Elliott, led him to predict a 1789 solar eclipse accurately.

As he matured, the Black Excellence of Benjamin Banneker was only magnified as he eventually became a prominent abolitionist and land surveyor near the end of his life. During this period, Banneker wrote future U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson, a letter in 1791 asking for improved living conditions for his people. In this same letter, he also sent drafts of various almanacs for the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Amazingly, this draft would eventually be published thanks in part to Thomas Jefferson’s approval. Perhaps Banneker’s most significant achievement came about as he surveyed the land that would eventually become the current domain for the United States’ capital in Washington, D.C.

Despite Benjamin Banneker passing on in 1806, approximately 57 years before Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, his legacy lives on. His name is included in several institutions, including The Benjamin Banneker buildings housed at Florida A&M University. At the notice of his passing, an obituary was published in the Federal Gazette with the quote, “Mr. Banneker is a prominent instance to prove that a descendant of Africa is susceptible of as great mental improvement and deep knowledge into the mysteries of nature as that of any other nation.”

Sources Cited

https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/science-and-technology/mathematics-          biographies/benjamin-banneker

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Benjamin-Banneker

https://www.biography.com/scientist/benjamin-banneker

https://www.famu.edu/index.cfm?blackhistory&BenjaminBanneker


Copyright © 2020. Keyshawn Miller

Keyshawn McMiller is a Senior Social Work major at Florida A&M University. A current two-time published author with “Ideals From A Young Black Introvert” and “Winnas, Not N*ggas,” Keyshawn is on a mission to use his gifts of writing to inspire the next generation to trade who they are for what they can become.

Instagram: @youngblack_introvert

LinkedIn: Keyshawn McMiller

Other Literary Works

  • Ideals From A Young Black Introvert: A Mini-Guide to a Better Life (available on Amazon)
  • Winnas, Not N*ggas: A Black Male’s Path to a King’s Mentality
  • King’s Mentality (poem)
  • Individual (poem)

Black History Fun Fact Friday – The Origins of Black History Month

Black History Fun Fact Friday returns next week with a brand new fun fact and our first special guest! Until then, I hope you enjoy this repost of how Black History Month got started.


Black History Month is around the corner. You know, the one time of the year that people are genuinely interested in Black History. Good thing you’ve got The PBS Blog, where we hit you up every week and all year round! Today, let us explore how Black History Month came to be.

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Have you ever wondered why Black History Month is in February? You’ve heard it (or maybe even said it) “Why its gotta be the shortest month of the year tho?” Yea, that was you. It was me too. Before we get into that, let’s start from the beginning.


It starts with Dr. Carter G. Woodson, famous for his book The Mis-Education of the Negro, a book I highly recommend that you read (if you haven’t already).

Known as “The Father of Black History Month,” Carter was one of the first African Americans to receive a doctorate from Harvard and dedicated his career to the field of black history.

Carter G. Woodson, 1947. Carter G. Woodson Papers, Box II 28, Manuscripts Division.
Carter G. Woodson, 1947. Carter G. Woodson Papers, Box II 28, Manuscripts Division.

In 1915, Carter G. Woodson helped found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (which later became the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History). The next year he established the Journal of Negro History and in 1921 formed the African-American-owned Associated Publishers Press. His goal was to center the contributions of African Americans. He wrote a dozen books, including but not limited to: A Century of Negro Migration (1918), The History of the Negro Church (1921), The Negro in Our History (1922) and The Mis-Education of the Negro (1933). The Mis-Education of the Negro is the most famous of these and is an often-recommended book by Historians and is also a book of study at Colleges. It centers on Black’s indoctrination into the American education system and touches on self-empowerment.

In 1926, Carter founded Black History Week. Black History Week eventually became Black History Month. It started as a program to encourage the study of Black History and was a week-long celebration in honor of Frederick Douglass (Born Feb. 14th) and Abraham Lincoln (Born Feb. 12th) and therefore Black History Month is in February.

Using Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is odd to me since Lincoln said that if he could have saved the Union without freeing any slaves he would have done it. Written during the Civil War, in one of Abraham Lincoln’s most famous letters to Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, Lincoln wrote about his focus to save the union, not to free the enslaved. Written while the Emancipation lay in his desk, not yet proclaimed, this letter is where the infamous quote comes from:

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.” – Abraham Lincoln, excerpt from

Letter addressed to Horace Greeley, Washington, August 22, 1862.
Source: The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler

Learn more about Lincoln and the truth on his motifs concerning the freeing of the enslaved here.

In any event, in honor of these men, the program was held February of 1926 and was later expanded to an entire month as late as 1976.

And that, my people, is how Black History Month (the brief version) came to be.


Don’t Complain. Use What You Have.

I do not believe in colors. I believe in nations of people. I do not consider black and white to be nationalities set in motion by the creator but colors created by men. I believe that each human person belongs to a nation with land, laws, customs, and traditions to govern them. No one is black, white, or red. This doesn’t even make sense. Race was a concept developed by man to keep certain truths hidden and to promote racial superiority. Like you, I do not believe that Black History is something that should be assigned to one month, (for me it’s a way of life) let alone the shortest month, but I won’t complain about it. Instead, I’ll use it to further educate those whose eyes and ears are more open to hearing the truth. Every day is a chance to share Black history but instead of complaining about it is “the shortest month,” let us use February as an opportunity to awaken those who don’t know to the wide range of historical information that exists (but is largely left out of the textbooks) at a time where people are most interested to learn.

In the age of information where it is “cool to be conscious,” people aren’t as “woke” as they think they are. That said, if Black History Month is an opportunity for us to share knowledge and to introduce something to people at a time where they would pay attention, then we should do it. It has nothing to do with “celebrating black history month” but spreading the truth. If Black History Month helps people to understand who they are because their minds are open now, by all means, let us take advantage of it and stop complaining. Okay, so the month is short. That just means we better pack as much information into these 28 days as we can.

*Steps off soapbox*

And now, for my favorite Carter G. Woodson Quote:

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his “proper place” and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”

– Dr. Carter G. Woodson, “The Miseducation of the Negro”

3rd Annual Poetry Contest Spotlight 2019: Returning 2018 Champion Jahkazia Richardson

Jahkazia (Jah-kay-asia which translates to Goddess of the land) is not just a returning poet but she’s our 2018 Champion! She shocked us all by submitting her poem minutes before the deadline and winning it all with “What if I Knew My Worth,” which you can read by clicking here and picking up a copy of the 1st Edition 2018 Lit Mag Magazine.

Richardson is an actor and poet. She is currently studying Social Work at North Carolina Central University. She appreciates going to live shows in the area as well as trying different recipes from all over the world. Currently, she is a preschool teacher where she teaches them how to play unapologically. Her poem “Aya,” is a powerful piece about wrongful convictions which we know is at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement to date in the Black community.

“Police sirens rang in the distance like freedom,
The smell of privilege and oppression filled the air,
I – somehow confused the chain-linked fences
With chains and handcuffs.

They say “I am under arrest,”
I say, “I am innocent!”
But somehow I still fit the description”

Excerpt from “Aya”

Jahkazia, your work is beautiful. Please tell us, what inspired your poem?

“I was wrongfully arrested for a crime I did not commit. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced, so I wanted to shed light on this experience.”

We asked Jahkazia to dig deeper into the experience behind her poem.

Considering the police brutality plaguing the Black community, why do you think it is important for Black writers specifically to talk about their experiences in poetry?

Black writers have to talk about their experience first hand in order to make it real. Black death has been dramatized over and over. To make it more digestible society disconnects themselves from the soul attached to the victim/survivor. Writing about our experiences makes it impossible to disconnect. This is my story. These are my words. You can not, you will not erase me.

How has writing about your own experience with a wrongful arrest helped you to heal from the experience?

Believe it or not, this was the first time I have written about it since it happened (almost 3 years ago). I would speak about it briefly, and I even did an interview with a collective of Black Femmes who wanted to know about the experience of our dealings with the police. This wound being reopened has been hard, but rewarding in the sense that it has given me an increased momentum. Since I am now a social worker, my duty is to educate, protect, and inspire – that is healing in itself.

 

It is indeed. I love how poetry can heal by bringing out our most deep self. Thank you for sharing this with us!

Be Sure to Follow Jahkazia Online!

 

IG: @chamelaninaire 

Facebook: Jahkazia Richardson


Our first and second place winners are up on 12/2 and 12/4! They have a FULL interview coming and trust, you DON’T want to miss it.

Hit the subscription button!

Peace and hair grease!

Yecheilyah’s 3rd Annual Poetry Contest 2019: Winners Revealed

Introducing the winners of Yecheilyah’s 3rd Annual Poetry Contest 2019! 


CONGRATULATIONS Y’ALL!

 

Copyright© 2019 Chanelle Barnes

Chanelle Barnes snatched up the #1 spot with her piece, “Straight Lines.” We had such a challenging time deciding between both the poems she submitted that we decided to include her second poem as an Honorable Mention.

But the brothers said they will not be left out this year people!

Copyright© 2019 BuddahDesmond

Buddah Desmond claimed second place with his uplifting poem “Claiming the Victory.”

Don’t forget our Honorable Mentions! They didn’t come to play either. Their poems were too good to leave out. We have two returning champs from last year. Jahkazia Richardson (our #1 Winner from last year!) came with “Aya,” a powerful poem about being wrongly convicted, and Kiyana Blount (who also placed last year) crushed it with “Lioness Strength.” Dondi Springer is a newbie to the contest and he brought it with “Look Within.”

Each of our winners will be featured individually over the next few weeks. We will start with our Honorable Mentions and work our way up to the Grand Prize Winner. Barnes and Desmond are preparing for their spotlight interviews where they will tell us what inspired their poems and more on their writing journey. You don’t want to miss it!

We are doing something different this year by not publishing the poems to this blog. Instead, you can read them in the 2020 Edition of the LKP Literary Magazine for poets coming February 2020. You will also get to read poems from this year’s entrants. ALL of them!

Over the next few weeks we will promote the winners of this contest on this blog. We are kicking things off next week.

Scroll over and click that beautiful Subscribe Button for notifications of new posts so you don’t miss this. Share this post and tell your poet friends things are about to get lit on The PBS Blog. Stay glued!


To help us level up next year’s contest we are seeking help early. If you would like to sponsor a book,* writing service,* or gift cards toward the 2020 contest, please comment your email address or send me one directly at yecheilyah (at) yecheilyahysrayl dot com.

*We are only accepting Poetry Books or Inspirational/Encouraging books for sponsorship.

*Writing Service is anything that will help our winners to level-up their writing or get exposure (that is what this platform is about after all, exposing new, talented writers!) This could cover editing, cover design, formatting, a guest post on your blog, promotion to your audience, or even publishing! The more we can offer the writers the better.

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Mathieu de Costa

Me and Hubby had a wonderful time on our vacation. It’s been a long time since we’ve been out of the country, so it was refreshing to breathe another air. Canada is rich with Black history and many Black Canadians trace their ancestry to the so-called African American in America as the Underground Railroad brought tens of thousands of fugitive slaves to Canada. While many of these returned to the United States after emancipation, a significant population remained, largely in Southern Ontario, widely scattered in the country and the city, including Toronto.

Mathieu Da Costa (Groupe CNW/Postes Canada)

The first recorded (recorded being the key word here…I am sure there were others, but this is the first record. The first known black person to live in Canada is said to have been a slave from Madagascar named Olivier Le Jeune) free Black person in Canada was a Black man named Mathieu de Costa. He was a free man who spoke several languages (among them French, Dutch, Portuguese and a mixture of French-Spanish dialect and First Nations languages) and is remembered as a skilled interpreter and the first man of African heritage to visit and live in Canada. He lived in Port Royal (Nova Scotia) for a short time, and a plaque to honor his life and time spent there has been placed on a monument at the Port-Royal National Historical Site. A school in Toronto, and a street in Montreal and Quebec City have been named after him. Because of his ability to speak several languages, it is said that he helped to bridge the gap between Europeans and Natives living along the Canadian Atlantic Coast to live peacefully.

Hubby and I at an Ethiopian Restaurant in downtown Toronto Canada.

As a group, black people arrived in Canada in several waves. We are planning a return trip this winter to explore Canada’s Black history that we did not have the time to explore this trip such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site and Buxton National Historic Site, in Chatham-Kent, Ontario. (It was about 3 hours from where we were so we didn’t have time to visit this round). If you remember, we touched on Josiah Henson in the truth about Uncle Tom post here. In 1842 former fugitive slave Josiah Henson established the Dawn Settlement, a center for education, training, and community planning. With financial backing from American abolitionists, Dawn became a diverse settlement featuring a school, brickyard, sawmill, farmland, and profitable lumber industry. “At its peak, about 500 people lived at the Dawn Settlement. Henson purchased 200 acres of land adjacent to the community, where his family lived.” (Ontario Heritage Trust) The Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site is an open-air museum and African American history center near Dresden, Ontario, Canada, that includes the home of Josiah Henson. While the development of administrative problems and the school closure in 1868 caused many Blacks to abandon the land (some going back to America when slavery ended and some spreading out throughout Toronto), Josiah and his wife Nancy lived on the land the rest of their lives.

Although we didn’t get to visit these sites, we visited Markham, Woodstock, Orville, and Toronto and got some much-needed rest. My goal for this trip was to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new. On this trip I:

  • Got my locs retwisted before leaving (something I don’t usually do. I like my natural do, but this was about being different sooo)

 

  • Stayed with friends on seven acres of land in a big country house instead of a hotel.

 

  • Ate largely vegetarian (except for the curry chicken and shawarma. Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish of sliced meat and vegetables wrapped in a cone-shaped bread and roasted. It is basically like one HUGE burrito. Also Jamaican Porridge is delicious. I’ll replace my oatmeal with it any day).

 

  • Showered in well water

 

  • Used Cinnamon, sweet milk and a touch of vanilla in my coffee instead of my usual French Vanilla Creamer

 

  • Drank no alcohol

 

  • Splurged on something cute without worrying over it (because I’m cheap). I just paid really fast before I changed my mind. In fact, before leaving the store I went into the dressing room and changed, wearing the pants and earrings home.

Peace and hair grease!

We had an amazing time but it sure does feels good to be back (nothing like being able to boo-boo in your own toilet and sleep in your own bed). Be sure to check out other fun facts on the Black History Fun Fact Friday page here.

Even Salt looks like Sugar Audiobook

I have been MIA on social media lately and I’ll return to my regular blogging soon. In the meantime, the Even Salt Looks Like Sugar is available now in audiobook. If you are a first time audible user this book is free with the 30 day trial.

👇🏿👇🏿👇🏿

>>Click here to order the Audiobook<<

Not into audiobooks? This book is available as an ebook at several retailers.

Buy from your favorite online store here

Buy from Amazon here

Purchase a signed paperback from my website here


Texas, I’ll be at the Trill Healing and Wellness Space in Stafford TX (about 40min from Houston) on November 30th for a signing and book reading of Keep Yourself Full. If you are in the area, I would love to have your support. This is our chance to meet/catch up. Don’t have this book? No worries! Grab your copy now from my website by clicking on the link in my bio. See you soon. Special thanks to Trill Monday Night Markets, Enlightened Souls, and B Infused Natural Detox Waters and more.

Black History Fun Fact Friday – The End of Enslavement and Reconstruction

Founded in 1607, America celebrated her 400th anniversary in 2007. Twelve years from 1607 (1619) she brought to her shores the first 20 persons of “African” descent to begin American slavery. (Learn more about that in a previous post here). Tuesday, August 20, 2019, marked the 400th anniversary of this event. In light of the 400th year, I thought this would be an excellent time to revisit some basics. I hope this insight will help us to understand the many disadvantages Blacks have faced since “freedom,” and why the failure of the U.S. to move on its promises to Blacks set a pattern that will define it until this very day.

During the Civil War (when the Southern States wanted to pull away or secede from the U.S. and create its own Country, The Confederate States of America), the U.S. government realized that it had to destroy anything that could be used by the South to support the Confederacy. Being slave labor was a big part of the South’s economy, Lincoln eventually realized that it had to be abolished, a massive blow to the Confederacy. But he didn’t realize this right away and he didn’t want it right away. It was never part of America’s plan to do away with slavery.

“Many people are completely misinformed about Lincoln and the Negro. That war was about two thieves, the North and the South, fighting over the spoils. The further we get away from the actual incident, the more they are trying to make it sound as though the battle was over the black man. Lincoln said that if he could save the Union without freeing any slaves he would. But after two years of killing and carnage, he found he would have to free the slaves. he wasn’t interested in the slaves, but the union.”

– Malcolm X, Playboy Interview with Alex Haley, p 42-43

Malcolm X spoke nothing but the truth and we will prove it (for those willing to understand the truth) in this post.

The 10% Plan

First, Lincoln decided on what is called the 10% plan or Lincoln’s Plan. The 10% plan meant that a southern state could be readmitted into the Union once ten percent of its voters (from the voter rolls for the election of 1860) swore an oath of allegiance to the Union. In other words, when ten percent of the voting population swears an oath of loyalty to the U.S. (no support of the Confederacy). The problem with this plan:

  • The plan did not plan for African Americans
  • The Plan did not even mention African Americans

Wade Davis Bill

Next, was the Wade-Davis Bill offered by Congress. The Wade-Davis Bill (named after Senator Benjamin F. Wade and Representative Henry Winter Davis), required that 50 percent of a state’s white males take a loyalty oath to be readmitted to the Union, also known as the Iron-Clad Oath. These men had to promise no support of the Confederacy. It also required States to give blacks the right to vote and ensure citizenship rights for African Americans.

What was Lincolns response to this?

Nothing.

Pocket Veto

Lincoln did nothing, also known as a Pocket Veto. He did not sign or veto the bill. He simply did nothing. Webster’s Online Dictionary defines Pocket Veto as:

  1. an indirect veto of a legislative bill by the president or a governor by retaining the bill unsigned until it is too late for it to be dealt with during the legislative session.

Eventually, Lincoln had to save the Union. He said if he could save the Union by not freeing any slaves he would do it but obviously, he couldn’t. Ending slavery was the best way to strike the Confederacy and save the Union.

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.”

– Abraham Lincoln, Letter addressed to Horace Greeley, Washington, August 22, 1862. Source: The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863, by Lincoln to end slavery in the States that were in Rebellion. This means not all enslaved people were freed. (Looks like Lincoln was going for the “free some and leave others” tactic. It didn’t work though.) On the passing of the 13th Amendment in January of 1865, slavery was officially deemed illegal in America, freeing all people enslaved.

However, many men, women, and children in Texas were still being held bondage and did not know that slavery was over:

“Since the capture of New Orleans in 1862, slave owners in Mississippi, Louisiana and other points east had been migrating to Texas to escape the Union Army’s reach. In a hurried re-enactment of the original Middle Passage, more than 150,000 slaves had made the trek west, according to historian Leon Litwack in his book Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of SlaveryAs one former slave he quotes recalled, ” ‘It looked like everybody in the world was going to Texas.’”

These men, women, and children were still enslaved until June 1865 when Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free, two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Known as Juneteenth, it is the reason many Black Americans celebrate Juneteenth instead of July 4th as their National Independence Day.

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.” – https://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm

But economic and cultural forces caused a decline in Juneteenth activities and participation as well as ongoing slavery. Before we go on, let’s continue on with Lincoln for full context.

A Change of Heart?

It is believed that Lincoln may have had a change of heart toward the end of his life after returning from a visit to Richmond, VA in 1865. He received opposition from Richmond’s white citizens but it’s Black freedmen welcomed Lincoln with open arms. They saw him as the man who had “emancipated” them and pushed through the 13th Amendment. When Lincoln got back to D.C. he gave the last speech of his life and this is when it gets murky.

Some suggest this is the speech that showcases his change of heart, where he suggests that now that the war was over the Government needed to think about giving African Americans rights, specifically giving Black men the right to vote. Some 200,000 Black men fought in the War and at the very least they should be given the right to vote. (Lincoln did own slaves so did he free the slaves under him during this “change of heart?”) The speech is said to show he was leaning toward Congress’ idea of Reconstruction. And it is believed this speech is the speech that got him killed by well-known stage actor John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, while attending the play at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.

The Problem

The only problem is that even if Lincoln had a change of heart, his death brought in Andrew Johnson as President and Andrew Johnson decided to go with Lincoln’s original 10% Plan and to do so quickly. By December of 1865, he offered pardons to former white slave-owners which authorized them to create new state governments. Now leading Johnson’s reconstruction are the same people who had led the Confederacy, also former slave-owners, and they set out to create laws that would recreate slavery.

Slavery Continued After Juneteenth

Juneteenth didn’t have much meaning for Black people at the time any more than the Emancipation Proclamation for a few reasons:

  1. Technically, the 250,000 Blacks in Texas were already “Free” they just didn’t know it. The document issued on June 19, 1865 was an announcement to those enslaved in Texas of the Emancipation Proclamation. Not an amendment or law.

“As for the Emancipation Proclamation, sir, it was an empty document. If it freed the slaves, why, a century later, are we still battling for civil rights?” – Malcolm X

  1. The announcement urged slaves to stay with their former owners: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

 

  1. Not all slaves were freed instantly. Many Blacks were still being enslaved both directly (working on plantations) and indirectly (recreated/renamed slave laws). When legally freed slaves tried to leave they were lynched, beaten or murdered.

“When Texas fell and Granger dispatched his now famous order No. 3, it wasn’t exactly instant magic for most of the Lone Star State’s 250,000 slaves. On plantations, masters had to decide when and how to announce the news — or wait for a government agent to arrive — and it was not uncommon for them to delay until after the harvest. Even in Galveston city, the ex-Confederate mayor flouted the Army by forcing the freed people back to work, as historian Elizabeth Hayes Turner details in her comprehensive essay, “Juneteenth: Emancipation and Memory,” in Lone Star Pasts: Memory and History in Texas.”

“Those who acted on the news did so at their peril. As quoted in Litwack’s book, former slave Susan Merritt recalled, ” ‘You could see lots of niggers hangin’ to trees in Sabine bottom right after freedom, ’cause they cotch ’em swimmin’ ‘cross Sabine River and shoot ’em.’ ” In one extreme case, according to Hayes Turner, a former slave named Katie Darling continued working for her mistress another six years (She ” ‘whip me after the war jist like she did ‘fore,’ ” Darling said).”

“In July 1867 there were two separate reports of slaves being freed, and one report of a Texas horse thief named Alex Simpson whose slaves were only freed after his hanging in 1868.” – Blacks in East Texas History: Selections from the East Texas Historical Journal By Alwyn Barr

 

Convict Leasing

Immediately after the Blacks in Texas were freed from chattel slavery in June of 1865, they were required (under the new governmental system) to have Labor Contracts. Many Blacks returned to their former slave-owners for this so that they were back to working under their former slave-owners.

There is also a well-known loophole in the 13th Amendment that states:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

This allowance of slavery for crimes opened the door for Blacks to be put back into an institution of slavery while imprisoned, giving rise to a system of Convict Leasing.

“After the Civil War, slavery persisted in the form of convict leasing, a system in which Southern states leased prisoners to private railways, mines, and large plantations. While states profited, prisoners earned no pay and faced inhumane, dangerous, and often deadly work conditions. Thousands of black people were forced into what authors have termed “slavery by another name” until the 1930s.”

https://eji.org/history-racial-injustice-convict-leasing

Slave Codes

Black Codes is another system of slavery created by the new government. Black Codes were laws specifically created for African Americans, subjecting them to criminal prosecution for “offenses” such as loitering, breaking curfew, vagrancy, having weapons, and not carrying proof of employment. If you remember, these weren’t new laws.

These were the same “offenses” that would get the enslaved whipped or sold during slavery. For instance, the enslaved couldn’t travel from place to place without a pass signed by their owner. “Those without such a pass could be arrested, jailed, and detained as a runaway. Some owners wrote general passes allowing their slaves to “pass” and “repass.” (http://www.inmotionaame.org/gallery) Under Black Codes, Blacks had to carry proof of employment when very few Blacks were employed. Failure to do so will get them jailed.

Although physically freed, Blacks were held economically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually captive in the U.S. for over four hundred years. Captive to almost one hundred years of Jim Crow Laws, over eighty years of lynchings, fourteen years of fighting for Civil Rights (if we count from 1954-1968), and the continued Police Brutality of unarmed Blacks that persists to this day.

The era of Reconstruction was to reconstruct or restore the South’s political relationship with the Federal Government; to reconstruct the Southern States’ representation in the National Government. The promises made to freedmen at the abolition of slavery were never realized because perhaps, as Lincoln put it, the purpose was never to free them in the first place but to save the union. Once they reestablished the union America set out to recreate slavery. Promises such as owning land (“40 Acres and a Mule”) were broken when Johnson ordered nearly all land in the hands of the government to be returned to its prewar owners—slave/plantation owners.

The truth is the Emancipation Proclamation, Reconstruction and Juneteenth did nothing to restore land or citizenship rights to the 40 million newly freed Blacks. Instead, they remained psychologically and economically disadvantaged, forced into a mental and spiritual form of enslavement that lasted for centuries.