Written by Loretta Green-Williams [ https://greenwilliams.wordpress.com/ ]
It still astounds me that as an American citizen, my entire life expectancy has been to obtain civil and human equality. Many despair that the month of February is Black History Month because it is the shortest month of the year. Others argue why a Black History Month at all. I would like to consider my beginning statement; my entire life expectancy has been to obtain civil and human rights. It not to take over the world; or to demand what is not extended to other US American citizens. But the challenge for the descendants of the "Enslaved 4-million" has just that. So let's reflect why Black History Month is to never forget and honor the "Enslaved 4-million".
American apartheid (segregation)
Under the 13th Amendment, the US Congress abolished slavery. What is not discussed is this abolishment declared that “non-involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted... ” Because of their forced circumstances, employment was a limited option. So now the states had the right to develop laws that placed crimes upon the “Enslaved 4-million” in any capacity it saw desirable based on what was considered as “…duly convicted”.
After the removal of America’s slavocratic system, 4 million bonded people were entitled to free movement; but only under federal law. State rights prevailed through the creation of black codes, which positioned the "Enslaved 4-million" back into the hands of land enslavement. Let’s deconstruct this. There were 4 million new citizens, most born on US soil, therefore were American citizens. However, institutional (federal and state) law forbade them rights to their nationality. The Civil War (April 12, 1861-May 9, 1865) promoted them citizenship. But, they did not fit immigrant status because they were forcibly brought to America, and or born on US soil. So any benefits provided to immigrants did not apply to them. While most enslaved were components of the plantocratic system, they were a direct competition of European immigrants, which increased by 500% during the Civil War .
Black codes were immediately passed by southern states that grossly benefited from the “Enslaved 4-million”. Based on the black codes, the “Enslaved 4-million” were required by law to seek employment or go to jail . From contracts that identified blacks as ‘servants’ if they were to agree to work for their former ‘master’ to vagrancy laws, these forced migrants-non immigrants were not given a collective opportunity to consider the American dream. The “Enslaved-4 million” were bound to the land through state laws that federal law recently un-bound them from.
With multiple series of individual state laws and the lack of federal governance to uphold any law, within three decades after their physical dislocation (migration), “separate but equal (Plessey v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 1896)” reinforced the origins of the slavocratic system into the US apartheid. Thus the formation of the American apartheid that South Africa would come to observe as an important format to structuralize their apartheid systems .
Never gave up the fight
American blacks would continuously attempt to remove themselves from the treatment of racism that was supported by the US apartheid, over the centuries. But it was A. Philip Randolph (April 15, 1889 – May 16, 1979) that would be enormously successful when he forced the hand of America’s hypocritical theory. He and Bayard Rustin designed a march on Washington during the Second World War (1941-1946). Then on July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman, issued Executive Order 9981 that established the abolishment of segregation in the United States Armed Forces . This act of standing up to the Goliath forced the federal government to respond to its ideology that "all [persons] are created equal". But, in order for the American system to continue to obtain a level of prominence in the coloristic empire (colonialism), it needed to maintain its ideology that all persons are equal except the ancestors of the "Enslaved 4-million".
So my one dream is that my grandparents who were of the "Enslaved 4-million" souls can rest in peace as I continue the dream for the many. That my father can rest in peace as he fought the Goliath at multiple turns. That my one dream is that if Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers were more honest with themselves the US Declaration of Independence, would uphold "truths to be self-evident" could be the dream of many.
Why Black History Month? Because I hold the stories of the "Enslaved 4-million" sacred; that I hold my ancestors in my heart; and that I still hold on to the dream that someday, I will be considered as American in the land that I was born. Like Nina Simone sang, "I wish I know how it feels to be free ", that's why Black History Month.