This is an excerpt from the chapter "A Different American History."
A Different American History
As much as I love Mom Stein, I still could not believe that people were still being sold, whipped, and treated as slaves in America as late as the 1950s. I support charities that rescue women and men out of sex trafficking, but I still could not believe what I was hearing. When I got off the phone, I immediately started searching the internet for accounts of black people being held as slaves, even as late as the 1950s. It didn’t take very long to find the clip below.
The clip below details the work of a genealogist whose work has been to uncover the existence of post-civil war slave transactions, some as late as the 1960s. Many are familiar with the work of Alex Haley, the author of the critically acclaimed book “Roots.” Alex Haley painstakingly traced his family all the way back to its African origins. Using the same type of search tools through public records and eye-witness testimony, “Antoinette Harrell, the ‘slavery detective of the South,’… tracks down cases of modern-day slavery and abusive labor practices.”
Ms. Harrell’s work confirmed every terrifying thing that Mom Stein told me and worse. Some people who tried to leave sharecropping systems in rural portions of Mississippi were forcibly returned to the plantation and most often killed. One elderly man that she interviewed didn’t hear any news of the landmark civil rights actions of the 1950s, such as the Supreme Court decision “Brown vs. The Board of Education.” He didn’t learn of civil rights efforts until the protest marches of the mid-1960s.
I include things like this in this book to show that in many ways, African Americans have a different history than the “American” history that we read about in the schoolbooks. I have known Mom Stein since I was 11 or 12. I have never heard these stories. I would likely never have asked her about them unless I was writing this book. I’m sure many readers of this book have never heard of accounts like this either. It’s only when we understand the history of others, their upbringings, their sufferings, that we can understand why they might think and act “differently” and even have a “different” perception of America and what “America” stands for. It is my hope that after we read these types of accounts of the manifestation of the spirit of racism in America that we can recommit to uprooting racism wherever we find it.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish