The Fight for Freedom

I've been reading Debra Dickerson's The End of Blackness (it was a Mother's Day present from hubby). I'm about halfway through this thought provoking book. So far I've got ideas for a handful of post from it. This is the first. Nothing deep just a story related to me reading the book.

I was reading this passage in the prologue of the book while I was visiting the family in NYC:
"It should not be construed, however, that blacks were passive, merely praying to their God (Jesus) and their god (whites) for deliverance. They engaged in active resistance-espionage, sabotage, arson, subterfuge (future revolt leader Denmark Vesey feigned epilepsy for years), aiding and abetting al manner of proscribed activities, work slowdowns, open defiance, murder, lawsuits, lobbying, and of course open revolt. In the ultimate act of defiance, they escaped or sought to in droves a la Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth. For seven years Harriet Jacobs hid in an attic space to small to stand up in right over her lascivious master's head. Several enslaved blacks had themselves nailed into crates and mailed north to freedom, spending days upside down. Two female slaves hid in plain sight in head-to-toe widows' weeds and took a leisurely train ride North. In 1848 Ellen Craft, a white-looking mulatto, dressed up like a man whose head injury necessitated silence and a face swathed in bandages; the faithful slave attending "him" was in fact her husband. There would have been no need for the Fugitive Slave Act (which required the entire nation to participate in slavery) had there been no fugitives. Politically, free and fugitive blacks formed self-help and lobbying societies as early as 1787, when two former slaves founded the Free African Society in Philadelphia "from a love of people of their complexion whom they beheld with sorrow." As well, the history of slave revolts has been widely downplayed; how many know that slaves burned down Dallas in 1860?"

At this point I stopped reading to laugh. This gives a whole new meaning to "don't mess with Texas" I thought. I shared this passage with my sister (the one who tested as an evil genius on this personality quiz) who proceeded to give her recounting of how things must have gone done.

Slave: Massa said what?

(turns to other slaves)

Yo light 'um up!

(stands back to watch things burn)

Don't mess wit Texas.

I was almost in convulsions from laughing so hard.

On a serious note, Dickerson makes a good point that we would do well to remember. America's slaves did not sit idly by waiting for someone to deliver them from their situation. They did everything in their power to be free. Their descendants would do well to take a page from their book in our fight today. No more waiting for someone else to deliver us (not Democrats, not Republicans, not the government). Time to rise up and deliver ourselves from the remaining shackles that we allow to hold us down. Yes, allow. Not even the threat of death could stop America's slaves from yearning for and achieving their freedom. The only thing that stops us from achieving our goals now is an unwillingness to fight for them (or perhaps choosing the wrong battles). Oh I am sure there are some left who would do their best to stop us, but they could not stop the slaves who constantly fought for their freedom.


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