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Sometime in the future we may teach real history, not reality history, not fake history. The truth is eight of our presidents staffed their White House with slaves personally owned by them—and ran a government from a capitol building mainly built by slaves. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, John Tyler, James Polk, and Zachery Taylor, all of the guys who signed that statement about everybody being equal, profited greatly from slavery. Just 156 years after the first slaves were brought to New England in 1619, Washington, in 1775, one of the richest men in Virginia because of his slaves, called his slaves “poor wretches” and pitied them, proclaiming he didn’t like to sell slaves at public sale. When the widow Martha Curtis married George in 1759 she brought him hundreds of slaves and many acres of good Virginia land. In Washington’s last will and testament he decreed that all of his slaves should be freed after Martha’s death. He did free one upon his death: his valet William Lee. Martha forgot to do that.
To show Washington’s hypocrisy, the story of Ona Judge, born a slave at Mount Vernon and Martha’s personal servant, is illustrative. Ona escaped from the Washingtons in the last year of his presidency and ran away with a man to New Hampshire. Throughout the rest of his life Washington hired slave chasers in a futile attempt to find Ona. She outlived the Washingtons by about 50 years. Ona’s situation was told in the book “Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave” by Erica Armstrong Dunbar.
The Interracial Marriage of Andrew Kinney, Black, and Mahala Miller, White
Andrew and Mahala married on November 4, 1874, the same day such a marriage was legal in the District of Columbia. Already the parents of two sons, they spent ten days enjoying a honeymoon before returning to their home in Augusta County, Virginia. In 1877 they were arrested and charged with “lewd and lascivious cohabitation” and violating Virginia’s law banning interracial marriage. They were found guilty of miscegenation and fined $500 each, a lot of money in those days. They appealed the case but lost in the circuit court. Judge Joseph Christian (!) of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled the marriage was a “vain and futile” attempt to evade the law, and included the following statement: “The purity of public morals, the moral and physical development of both races, and the highest advancement of our cherished southern civilization, under which two distinct races are to work out and accomplish the destiny to which the Almighty has assigned them on this continent, require that they should be kept distinct and separate, and that connections and alliances so unnatural that God and nature seem to forbid them, should be prohibited by positive law, and be subject to no evasion.”
Almost 80 years later Richard Loving and Mildred Loving were arrested for violating the same miscegenation law. The American Civil Liberties Union took the Loving case to the Supreme Court where it ruled on a 9-0 vote on June 12, 1967 the Virginia law violated the 14th Amendment, thus voiding the laws about interracial marriages in 15 other states. We have made some progress in this area. As of the last census 24% of adopted children were placed with a parent of a race different from their own. About 17% of new marriages today and 20% of cohabitating relationships are interracial or interethnic, and one-quarter of us have a close relative in an interracial marriage. Over 90% agree that such marriages are for the better or made no difference at all.
“Separate But Equal” and School Segregation
U.S. courts exactly 121 years ago decided it was okay if states allowed segregated schools to be kept separate as long as the facilities, programs, and teachers were “equal.” That was a real laugher in the South. Back in 1955 when Corky and I lived on New Topsail Island and at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina her younger sister came to live with us and attended a “separate but equal” school in Hampstead for her senior year in high school. She went to a school constructed of brick while the black kids were assigned to a tarpaper shack. The white kids rode yellow school buses while the black kids walked or were driven by parents. The white kids would taunt the black kids as they went by in their buses. Each white student received a textbook for each class while the black kids had access to classroom sets—and it goes on and on. This was education under Jim Crow laws. Finally in 1954 The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the plaintiff in Brown vs. Board of Education and outlawed segregated schools. It has been met with a minimum of success. A case in point: two schools in Mississippi.
The Difference Between White and Black Schools in the South
Mississippi is the poorest state in the country and ranks 49th in education according to a 13-point study by the Department of Education. Madison Elementary School in Madison, Mississippi is rated as an “A” school. Students have access to tutors if they are behind, take Taekwondo lessons after school, and are served fresh fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria. Over 70% of the students are white. In contrast, an elementary school a few miles away offers no art or music classes, no after-school tutoring, and doesn’t have enough textbooks for every student to have one in the classroom. A student cannot take a textbook home to study for the next day. Besides, the books are outdated. Expired food is served in the cafeteria—where chipping paint is falling off the walls. The students are 99% black. In the Madison school 72.6% of the students are proficient in reading and 70.5% in math, and less than 9% of the teachers are beginners. At the “black” school 20% 0f the teachers are beginners and only 11% of the students are proficient in reading and only 4% in math. This is what white Southerners have always agreed represented “Separate but Equal.”
Governor James Vardaman made it quite clear back in the late 19th Century why Jim Crow and “Separate but Equal” laws were passed, even when blacks were in the majority: “(The laws) served no other purpose than to eliminate the nigger from politics. The best way to control the nigger is to whip him when he does not obey without it.” That attitude still permeates the South.
And Now We Have Created An Uppity Black Quarterback
Perhaps not enough people know that Colin Kaepernick, that black football player who takes a knee during the Star Spangled Banner instead of standing and saluting, was a bi-racial child adopted and raised by white parents in white Wisconsin with several white siblings. A black quarterback good enough to win a Super Bowl, he was fed up with the recent killing of black men and boys by white cops, the criticism of the Black Lives Matter protests, and the treatment of blacks over 400 years of slavery, 4,000 lynchings, and political domination by whites at all levels. He stated his reasons for his protest to a National Football League reporter: “I am not going to stand up to show pride for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder. This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people who are oppressed. If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
The initial kerfuffle over his protests seems to be over, mostly coming from right-wing Southerners still yearning “to make the country great again.” Now the NFL is beginning to have a real problem on its hands because other players, both white and black, are joining him by the dozens. The numbers clearly indicate that black athletes dominate football, basketball, gymnastics, and track and field, and, if they could afford skates, ice time, golf course time, and swimming pools, they would probably dominate those sports, too. Remember when the Los Angeles Dodger executive was fired for telling the truth about the black athlete? He said the black was bred by Sothern slave holders to create strong, quick workers for the cotton fields, toil for long hours in hard physical labor, and deliver a good price on the auction block. There are quite a few outstanding black players in baseball also, but actually the white players are losing out to Latin Americans, particularly from Mexico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and Castro’s Cuba. This brings up the subject of the extreme racist and hater Joe Arpaio.
King Donald and Joe Arpaio Like—and Deserve—Each Other’s Company
These two racists have a similar characteristic—they love only themselves. I got more acquainted with the antics of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County when Corky and I spent one winter in Sun City West in Phoenix. The Republican Legislature was a source of constant entertainment or consternation for the three months. The white guys in the legislature just didn’t like all the brown people living in Phoenix and suburbs and were constantly trying to take voting and other rights away from them. Joe sounds just like Trump: “Nobody is higher than me. I am the elected sheriff of the people. I don’t serve any governor or the president.” Arpaio was elected by Arizona whites for 24 years while he and his deputies harassed Hispanic-looking people around the county just because they looked “brown.” He created inhumane “tent city” jails where prisoners developed hatred and resentment instead of becoming productive members of society. When the temperature in the tents reached 130 degrees he fed them green baloney sandwiches while they were forced to wear pink underwear and chain gang stripes. As a former prisoner of his said, “Arpaio twisted, bent and broke the very law he was sworn to uphold, using it as both shield and weapon.” Joe sounds like King Donald who just pardoned him.
Our history should always contain this 1853 ad from the Virginia Daily Star:
PUBLIC SALE OF VALUABLE NEGROES On Tuesday the 3rd day of January 1854, the subscriber will sell at public auction, for cash in front of the United States Hotel in Fredericksburg (VA) 46 Negroes, most of them young, valuable and likely. Among them are two brick layers, a shoemaker, a boy now learning the copper trade, and several good house servants.
John Seddon. Committee