"As vital and necessary a historical document as anyone has ever produced in this country." — The Boston Globe
The Washington Post Book World says these "Moving recollections fill a void in the slavery literature … Chilling." 1
In 1998, The New Press published Remembering Slavery, a book-and-tape set that offered a startling first-person historical account of slavery. Using excerpts from the thousands of interviews conducted with ex-slaves in the 1930s by researchers working with the Federal Writers' Project a breakthrough technology at the time based on the miracle of magnetic tapes (i.e., audiotapes) and made available to the general public the only known recordings of people who actually experienced the inhumanity of enslavement in the United States of America. Still, these priceless recordings had languished and gathered dust on the shelves of the Library of Congress since 1941 before being transferred to magnetic tape. Today magnetic tape (i.e., audiotape and|or cassette tape) is obsolete. Since the first decade of the 21st century, magnetic tape has been replaced by digital recording technologies (i.e., CDs, DVDs and mp3 files). Once again, the recorded voices of those that experienced the cruel reality of man's inhumanity to man first-hand in the United States of America, are languishing and gathering dust on the shelf.
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"You can't hold a man down without staying down with him." — Booker T. Washington2
These visceral accounts, in recorded voice and printed word address confrontations between slave and slave owner, the long and arduous hours in the field, the effort it took to maintain families without the benefit of being recognized as a person protected by the law and the struggle it was sustaining human dignity in the face of the most inhumane circumstances known to mankind are now made available to you in digital form.
LISTEN TO JOHN HENRY FAULK
Official "Faulk" Transcript 3
John Henry Faulk: "I remember sitting out on a wagon tongue with this old black man - completely illiterate - down here near Navasota a plantation there and I was telling him what a different kind of white man I was. I really … I really a getting, come educated on blacks and their problems, except we called 'em colored folks. I said, 'You know, you might not realize it but I'm not like the colored - the white folks you run into down here. I believe in giving you the right to go to school, to good schools. Now, I know you don't want to go with white people - I don't believe in going overboard on this thing - but I believe colored people ought to be given good schools. And I believe you ought to be given the right to go into whatever you qualify to go into, and I believe you ought to be given the right to vote.'
And uh, I remember him looking at me, very sadly and kind of sweetly, and condescendingly and saying, 'You know, you still got the disease, honey. I know you think you're cured, but you're not cured. You talking now you sitting there talking and I know it's nice and I know you a good man. Talking about giving me this, and giving me that right. You talking about giving me something that I was born with just like you was born with it. You can't give me the right to be a human being. I was born with that right. Now you can keep me from having that if you've got all the policemen and all the jobs on your side, you can deprive me of it, but you can't give it to me, cause I was born with it just like you was.'
My God it had a profound effect on me. I was furious with him. You try to be kind to these people, you see. 'You give them an inch and they'll take an ell.' But the more I reflected on it, the more profound the effect. I realized this was where it really was. You couldn't give them something that they were born with just like I was born with. Entitled to it the same way I was entitled with it."
"You Still Got The Disease"
A poster advertising the sale of 250 healthy negroes.
John Henry Faulk was one of the scholars who audio recorded his interviews with former slaves. His work was deposited in the Library of Congress and in the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. In the interview above, Faulk describes a conversation with a former Black slave that made him think long and hard about race prejudice. In the conversation, Faulk came to understand that in fact he still had "THE DISEASE", that a White man could not give a Black man the "righttobeahumanbeing" and that Black Americans were "entitled" to legallyrecognizedandconstitutionallyprotectedpersonhood the same way he was "entitled" to it. In the end it was clear (very clear) how easily "PREJUDICE" sets the stage for "INSTITUTIONAL RACISM" and bigotry.
Still, I gotta wonder: "Who's Listening?"
"It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of those privileges." — Booker T. Washington, The Story of My Life & Work 4
"Because his greatest threat today is not racism … it's not having a a father in his life." — Ryan Bomberger, Chief Creative Officer for The Radiance Foundation 5
When I think about the deafening silence in the Church Pulpit regarding the evils of abortion on demand. When I read comments from Church Planters such as "… unfortunately, abortion is at the low end of the totem pole of the types of murder in urban centers. As sad as it seems, if you raised a daughter who got pregnant and two of your sons had been killed in the streets, you might see abortion as relief and not murder" and I know that's the way some are feeling.6When I talk to Church Leadership that refuses to reach an obviously righteous conclusion regarding the wickedness of politicians supporting the taxpayer funding of the largest abortion on demand provider in the world (i.e., Planned Parenthood) that performs late-term abortions in such a way as to meet the apparently insatiable demand for human baby body parts.7When I walk with Christians that will not acknowledge the humanity of the human embryo, as a living human being that deserves the same respect and legal protections as all already existing living human beings regardless of where they reside or their method of reproduction. When I worship with my Brothers and Sisters in Christ in Church that believe without abortion on demand (i.e., the dismembering and the discarding of children inside the womb of their mothers) women cannot be free. When I suffer the betrayal of Pro-Christ, Pro-Life organizations when I fight for the personhood of the preborn, I often think of the words of Frederick Douglass from 1845 …
Slaveholding Religion And The Christianity of Christ (1845)
"I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land … I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of 'stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.' I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus … The slave auctioneer's bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other-devils dressed in angels' robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise. — Frederick Douglass, Slaveholding Religion and the Christianity of Christ (1845) 8
Celebration erupts after the amendment is passed by the House of Representatives.
Thanks to Radical Republican Party measures such as the Civil War Confiscation Acts9 and the Emancipation Proclamation,10 the Civil War 11 (fought from 1861 to 1865) effectively ended slavery, even before the Thirteenth (13th) Amendment12 in December 1865 formally outlawed the "peculiar institution" 13 throughout the United States. Today, the end of the legal institution of human chattel slavery in the United States is months away from being 150 years old. It's old news. It's been reexamined, reconsidered, reviewed, reassessed, reenacted and reflected upon in retrospect over and over again, so much so that Lori and I want to believe we are living in an America that is now made up of "a different kind of white" men and women and that "the disease" of race prejudice has been eradicated.
Yes, in our hearts, we want to believe that …
However, in the midnight hour, when Lori and I are all alone with our thoughts, we know better, much better.
So we're still wondering: "Who's Listening?" and "Who's Learning?"
Brothers, we need to talk.
01. Publishers Weekly, 1998-08-31, "Two projects begun independently and presented together here provide chilling witness to slavery's persistent legacies. Transcripts of 124 former slaves interviewed in the 1920s and 1930s are accompanied by recently restored recorded interviews that have languished in the Library of Congress since 1941. Historian Berlin, founding director of the Freedmen and Southern Society Project at the University of Maryland, is a master of allowing the natural drama of history to unfold. The tapes particularly are rivetingæperhaps especially for those seeking their roots in Southern slavery. Until the modern civil rights movement, Berlin notes, historians' "struggle over slavery" was considered "too important to be left to the [blacks] who experienced it," but their experience has increasingly been coming to light as more archival material is unearthed and made available. Still, some seams are apparent. The original transcribers of the print interviews (nine appear both in print and on cassette) made numerous and idiosyncratic editorial interventions that at times can read, as Berlin notes, like "minstrel-speak." Actor James Earl Jones and dancer Debbie Allen reading selections from the interviews on portions of the tape are not nearly as credible or moving as the voices of former slaves. Those wonderfully present voices describe family life, work ethic and recreational patterns, religious ethos and resistance in answer to questions posed in often unmistakably condescending terms by white interviewers. This project will enrich every American home and classroom. 40 b&w photos not seen by PW. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved" (http://bit.ly/1HAoLID).
02. Booker T. Washington as quoted in "The Great Quotations" (1971) edited by George Seldes, page 641 (http://bit.ly/1LKZH66).
03. John Henry Faulk "Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Freedom", edited by Ira Berlin, Marc Favreau and Steven F. Miller, page 330 (http://bit.ly/1ibqmwm).
04. Booker T. Washington, "The Story of My Life & Work" (http://bit.ly/1Km9Upy).
05. Ryan Bomberger, Chief Creative Officer of The Radiance Foundation (http://bit.ly/1UtSe08).
06. Black Christian News Network, "Why Aren't Black People Protesting Planned Parenthood as Much as Whites?", SOURCE: The Christian Post OP-ED Contributor Marty Duren, September 2nd, 2015 (http://bit.ly/1IQtcME).
07. The Center for Medical Progress, "Human Capital Project" documenting Planned Parenthood's sale of baby body parts on video (http://bit.ly/1NPnlOs).
08. Frederick Douglass, "Slaveholding Religion and the Christianity of Christ" 1845 (http://bit.ly/1NPnlOs).
09. Confiscation Acts, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/1hoKJW4).
10. Emancipation Proclamation, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/1hoKPNI).
11. American Civil War, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/LXwgl4).
12. Thirteenth Amendment (Amendment XIII), Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/1hoLbUs).
13. Peculiar Institution, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/1UmFHGc).
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