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.
Oftentimes, many white southerners nowadays keep trying to tell black southerners what they as a race of people descending from slaves “think” or “believe” on matters concerning their OWN Southern Heritage – particularly on matters of slavery and the civil war. And there’s this bad habit of being instructive in telling black southerners about their OWN history, when black people have already received instructions from their black elders about WHO they are, where they come from & stories of what happened. To make matters worse, many have gone so far as to be instructive so as to tell black southerners who they should chose to honor as their heros. Not all southerners are in lockstep on this matter of Southern Heritage as to who they celebrate and honor. Some black southerners may have preference to Patrick Cleburne but perhaps not for the same reason as some southern whites. Some white southerners have no problem with embracing the “Slavery” clause in the CSA secession documents, whereas most black southerners who love the south, do NOT embrace the Secession documents as written. Some white southerners idolize CSA Vice President Alexander Stephens, whereas most Black Southerners, for good reason, despise the man.
Many white southerners wrongly assume that most southern blacks are stupidly supportive of Abraham Lincoln because of Emancipation Proclamation. 1st of all, the fact that black southerners do not celebrate January 1st (date that Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863) should be a clue ! For that matter, blacks do not even celebrate December 6th (date that slavery was officially abolished via 13th Amendment in 1865). Therefore the continued instructions to black southerners as to what Lincoln & the Emancipation Proclamation did or did not do, is unnerving to say the least. Most southerners are fully aware of how Abe felt towards black slaves & the institution of slavery, as this is preached on repeatedly at Juneteeth Day events. For that matter, the black elders are instructive on this.
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.
South Carolina. Considering the time period, Southern Black slaves, in particular were put into a peculiar situation – and understandably faced with dilemma of “do I stay as a slave… or I do take the risk of escaping to be a free man”.
Before Robert Smalls, a trusted slaved, joined the Union Navy, he did serve in the Confederate Navy – eventhough many nowadays don’t acknowledge this because Smalls took the Confederate sea vessel (the Planter) and turned it over to the Union in order in secure freedom of his black Confederate crew, himself, and others from slavery. Needless to say, when it was discovered that Smalls had escaped, South Carolina placed a high bounty on his head. Smalls duties for the Confederacy included: piloting the Confederate ship, set up mines, and stocked the ship with ammo & supplies that the Confederacy needed that he transported.
The following black slave Confederates were part of his crew:
• Abraham Jackson
• John Smalls (no relations)
• Alfred Gourdine
• David Jones
• Jack Gibbes
• Gabriel Turner
Rather than say #HeritageNotHate .. let’s call this SOUTHERN HERITAGE FREEDOM!
Black women, many whom were slaves also contributed to the South. Some of them provided nursing care to the injured Confederate & Union wounded in battle. This representation was on the public display at that Mansfield War museum, in Mansfield, LA (Desoto Parish). Though I am pleased that at least this museum was thoughtful enough to prominently feature a black female’s contribution as shown in above photo; but throughout all my travels in the south, I have yet to find any statue erected (for the southern side) that reflects Women of the South who are black.
MISSISSIPPI. My response to Andrew Williams’ reasoning behind his wanting removal of current state flag. Williams’ main reason behind why the current state flag must be removed is because he feels that the flag (with Confederate Battle flag emblem) relates to the Mississippi Declaration of Secession (which had some scathing racist remarks about keeping blacks as slaves).
Eventhough I agree that slavery was a horrifying act that should had never happened. And there is NO acceptable EXCUSE that can be given to make slavery alright. But where I differ with Williams is on the time period. I’m not going to misrepresent the history of my ancestors. Some of my black ancestors were born in Mississippi & who were later brought to Louisiana – all prior to 1865. The Mississippi state flag at that time was the Bonnie Blue & the Magnolia flag. The flag that represented my ancestors enslavement in the state of Mississippi as it relates to the state’s Secession document (according to Williams) could not had been the flag that he’s currently protesting on the behalf of my ancestors.
The current Mississippi state flag was not adopted until over 20 yrs after slavery was abolished. While I appreciate Williams’ caring words for innocent black slaves who did not start the war, but I still do not understand why he is connecting the current state flag in his argument with slavery in Mississippi, when it was the Magnolia & Bonnie Blue flag under which my ancestors were enslaved in that state.