Daily Kos has a post about Frederick Douglass’ Independence Day, 1852 speech. This is the speech in which Douglass declared,
What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.
The Washington Post has an editorial, which I urge you to read in full, about an integrated militia that fought in the War of 1812:
Andrew Jackson won with a somewhat motley, outnumbered army that Mr. Howe describes in detail: “There were Tennessee militia . . ., Louisiana militia, mostly French-speaking, and mounted Mississippi dragoons. There was an Irish American regiment called the Louisiana Blues and two battalions of black men, one made up of African Americans and the other of Haitian immigrants. . . . . Up from their hideout at Barataria came the notorious pirate band of Jean and Pierre Lafitte. . . . Jackson’s orders to this heterogeneous army had to be translated not only into French but also into Spanish.”
The aftermath in 1815 was not all that inspirational. Jackson never gave the black soldiers the fair rewards he had promised them. The various factions, faiths and ethnic groupings that had jostled and contended since the beginning of the Republic did not achieve mutual peace and understanding forevermore, as the nation’s subsequent history testifies. But this much can be said: that this was a wildly disparate army with a surprisingly common outlook. It was made up of people who thought themselves worth something even if others didn’t agree, or at least never had in Europe or the colonies. Some dreamed simply of being freemen. Just about all wanted, more than anything, land of their own and the opportunity to till it themselves, free of ancient ties and obligations, and to make of themselves what they could.
It was the 1776 dream of liberty and independence made personal, and although for some it was to be deferred for generations, it has remained the country’s greatest motivational force. When word of the victory in New Orleans reached Washington, D.C., four weeks later, citizens lit up the town with all the fire they could safely muster. Tonight we will continue the tradition.
The Texas Liberal blog has a nice post about Black Americans Celebrating Independence Day in 1930’s South Carolina which includes some thoughtful commentary. He also has some comments on Crispus Attucks.
Eugene Robinson talks about African American patriotism, from the Revolutionary War through to the Tuskeegee Airmen to now in A Special Brand Of Patriotism. Robinson starts off with the mega-question:
Anyone who took U.S. history in high school ought to know that one of the five men killed in the Boston Massacre, the atrocity that helped ignite the American Revolution, was a runaway slave named Crispus Attucks. The question the history books rarely consider is: Why?
Think about it for a moment. For well over a century, British colonists in North America had practiced a particularly cruel brand of slavery, a system of bondage intended not just to exploit the labor of Africans but to crush their spirit as well. Backs were whipped and broken, families systematically separated, traditions erased, ancient languages silenced. Yet a black man — to many, nothing more than a piece of property — chose to stand and die with the patriots of Boston.
I, Too, Sing America – Langston Hughes
Anderson @ Large talks about African American voting issues in her post Election Day. Of note: “While no one knows the number of unregistered black voters in the target states, the Sentencing Project estimates that 5.3 million Americans, including more than 2 million African Americans, have lost the right to vote due to a felony conviction. Thirteen percent of all black men are unable to vote.”
And while we’re on the subject: As mentioned in an earlier post, the Black Electorate site focuses extensively on news about ex-offenders’ rights and rehabilitation.
I was touched by this blog entry from Blog Fabulous on Black Grandmothers. It talks about older black women who have issues with Obama becoming president. The post was poignant to me in that my mother – a black grandmother – has problems with Obama too. The issues that these black women have echo my own mother’s concerns. It’s not necessarily a feel good story, but it’s must reading.
Brooklyn Ron talks about the scandal over the death of a patient in Kings County Hospital.
Do your white friends a service, and turn them on to the Rent-a-Negro site. And thanks to Abagond for that link.
I thought this bit from Christian comedian Rich Praytor was funny, although the ending was a little flat:
Meanwhile, this is just wrong…
In my preceding post, I spoke about Walter White, the civil rights activist and NAACP leader. White was able to pass for white, and he did so often, to investigate lynchings and race riots in the South in the early twentieth century. It turns out that Vertigo, which produces comics and graphic novels for grown-ups, published the book Incognegro in February. From the book’s description:
In the early 20th Century, when lynchings were commonplace throughout the American South, a few courageous reporters from the North risked their lives to expose these atrocities. They were African-American men who, due to their light skin color, could pass among the white folks. They called this dangerous assignment going incognegro. Zane Pinchback, a reporter for the New York-based New Holland Herald, barely escapes with his life after his latest incognegro story goes bad. But when he returns to the sanctuary of Harlem, hes sent to investigate the arrest of his own brother, charged with the brutal murder of a white woman in Mississippi. With a lynch mob already swarming, Zane must stay incognegro long enough to uncover the truth behind the murder in order to save his brotherand himself. He finds that the answers are buried beneath layers of shifting identities, forbidden passions and secrets that run far deeper than skin color.
Thanks to the Nat Turner’s Revenge blog for the heads up on this. I am a comic book fan, and I might buy it.
If you want to browse some black blogs, here is a list for your consideration. Only a few of these are ones that I regularly look at, so it was nice to get a little diversity. There are probably hundreds of blogs out there that could use some attention.