SOUTHERN HERITAGE for long time in public discourse, displays, and mainstream Southern history of achievements of black Southerners, has been excluded. One of the reasons they were/are being excluded was/is because of bigoted hatred for Reconstruction period in which newly freed southern blacks benefited from … to rise from slavery to prominent position as politicians.
Had it not been for Reconstruction, Blanche Kelso BRUCE a born slave of Virginia, would not had opportunity to win public office – as it was during that era that republicans pushed the 14th & 15th Amendment, after slavery was abolished.
Blanche Bruce was a runaway slave, who became the 1st Black US Senator to preside over a Senate Session. He was a Republican as most black politicians were during Reconstruction. While there was opposition against racial minority veterans, Bruce fought for Asians would were denied citizenship even though they militarily served this nation. He fought for Native Americans who were treated unfairly. He fought for black military service members who faced racism & violence in US armed forces, and he pushed for racial desegregate in the US Army. And after he left the senate in 1881, he REFUSED a political appointment to position as Foreign Minister to Brazil because Brazil practiced slavery. Yes slavery of blacks was still going on in Brazil until about 1888.
Blacks were & are Southerners too.
SOUTHERN WHITE-on-SOUTHERN WHITE RACISM still alive & well in the SOUTH. It’s part of Southern Heritage since Civil War/Reconstruction era. I was informed that “Scalawag” means “White Southern Ni**** Lover”.
About 7 months ago I was informed that “Scalawag” is a racial slur that most white southerners use against other white southerners who helped blacks gain their right to vote. And advised with caution that I should never utter that word again not even in private because some white people’s use of that word was same as calling a white Southerner a “Ni**** Lover” who risked & lost their lives for blacks. White Southerner informed me that his white relatives who were Confederate veterans were killed from helping freed black slaves seek public office as Republicans in 1870s Louisiana.
This was in response to my uttering that word in casual conversation. When asked where I 1st learned that word, my reply was that it was at white school (MB Smiley High School) where I was forced bussed to in late 60’s as part of desegregation during heated Humphrey/Wallace presidential race. White teachers taught civil war, told black students that “Scalawag” was a Southern spy who turned against the south by helping burn down the south in the civil war. Therefore, I assumed that was the proper term.
Then I was informed that there’s NO monuments erected in the South to memorialize white Confederates veteran Republicans of Reconstruction era that helped newly freed black slaves with their civil rights .. and who lost their lives in doing so. I didn’t realize I was taught wrong, and I won’t use the racist word “Scalawag” anymore. Btw, the word scalawag is not a typical vocabulary that’s used in black households.
Words by itself don’t have meaning until people give it meaning.
Most history of southern heritage speaks of contributions made by white southerners of the 1800s during and shortly after the civil war. Not so much is spoken of contributions made by blacks for that time period. A greater treatment on the subject matter of black southerners can be found in studies that cover the Reconstruction era.
After slavery was officially abolished, newly freed black men entered into politics and joined the Republican Party. Most white southern men who were Confederate veterans were Democrats at that time. Even though some black southern men who joined the Republican Party during Reconstruction did contribute to the Confederacy (voluntarily or otherwise), there was still some racial bitterness towards them, as the black republicans ushered in Civil Rights which was opposed by most white Democrats.
There’s a book entitled “Black Americans In Congress 1870 -2007″ that reportedly has information on every black American who served in Congress from 1870 (which was the year that the 1st black American took office in Congress). My review of this book is pending.
SOUTHERN HERITAGE. Contributions, Accomplishments and History of Southern blacks are usually hidden in the history of the Reconstruction Era, which is an era that appears to be a taboo subject matter these days amongst many white Confederate supporters. That is the era where Southern blacks (the men) 1st gained right to vote & 1st gained right to hold political office.
Take Florida for instance, whereby the FIRST black person elected to US House of Representatives from that state was in 1871 – namely Josiah Walls (a former slave). He was elected as a Republican. It took 135 years later after Walls left office for Florida to elect its next black republican to US House of Representatives – in 2011 (Allen West was the next & last). This is not well known. And I suspect that it’s because of Reconstruction period that most try to hide from black people. But this is a HISTORICAL period important to Southern blacks.
Another piece of hidden history is that Josiah Walls served in the Confederate army – albeit forcibly as a slave; but nonetheless he did contribute. However, it does not appear that Walls gets credit for the service he rendered & he’s rarely if ever ever mentioned in Confederate support circles nowadays. Afterall Walls is a historical figure.
I strongly urge every Southern black person who has Southern ancestry to research the Reconstruction Era as much as possible. It might not be a popular nor a desirable subject matter amongst many White Confederate supporters, but within the Reconstruction era lies much of the recorded HISTORY of Southern blacks & the accomplishments they have done for their race of people.