Google+ Q Dot: Black History Month pt. 2:: Quick update

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Black History Month pt. 2:: Quick update

The idea of slavery in America that we grew up with in school, learning about Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, and the hardships of slavery I’ve come to find has been very vague and generalized. No doubt about it, the African slave trade was the bloodiest, most brutal atrocity in our worlds history let alone our nations history, but what about those individual stories? Beyond the slave field, the slave shack and the slave master there were individual stories – stories that would blow ones mind and put an entirely different vantage point on what we view of the Black experience in America.

Until recent studies were conducted, it’d be safe to assume that every black person in America believed they were descendent from slaves of the not so far history.  But as these studies have proven, it’s not so safe to say that we all were descendents of slavery, or the type of slavery that we all generally identify with.  According to family legend, before the turn of the century my Mom’s great grandfather was a land owner in small town Coffeeville Alabama were the family still owns the land today and on my Dad’s dad side, the man who I mentioned in my last post who helped integrate Kentucky schools, their story was one of freedom pre-civil war.

My great great Grandfather Ruben Hightower, a Doctor, was a healer of many prominent whites in Alabama, the story goes the whites didn’t want to pay him in money for fear he’d be richer then they were, so instead he amassed over 200 acres of land, ironically enough a cotton farm, in lieu of cash payment. My great greats on my Dad’s Dad side in the 1800s were free blacks in Louisiana, where they owned acres upon acres of farmland years before the civil war broke out which is astonishing. What’s even more astonishing is that they were not alone. Those recent studies I mentioned earlier have proven that by the 1860 census there were not only 250,000 free blacks in the North but also 200,000 free blacks in the SOUTH! When you take into consideration that there was an estimated 10 million Africans sold into slavery (yet only 2 to 3 million estimated made it to the “new world”) that number doesn’t seem like much, but it definitely lends credence to the notion that we are all NOT descendents of a long line of slaves. Certainly at some point there were a slave a two deep into the bloodline for those but imagine what life was like being free when slavery was the norm…

So for those who read my previous post to know that you probably don’t have any Native in your DNA, you can now be happy to know that there is a chance that you were descendent from strong, free, courageous African American men and women who not only lived as free blacks but owned land, made fruitful contributions and maybe just maybe fought in the wars who changed this country and subsequently the world.

Until next time…

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