In honor of African American History Month: I am re-posting Farrakhan’s Tuskegee Speech, which includes many historical points of interest from Brooker T. Washington to Marcus Garvey. Also included in the original post, was a historical look at the year 1606 and how equal rights for contract workers: turned into slavery for African Americans. I hope all African Americans learn something new this month, about our ethnic legacy.
Thinking about the 18th anniversary of the Million Man March, thousands of people gathered in Tuskegee Square on October 20, 2013. In regards to the entire speech, three thoughts flowed through my mind: First, Self Determination. Ish¬mael Muham¬mad, stated much about Booker T. Washington’s self-help ideology. Which for me, translated to, self- determination. The second thing that came to mind, was how many times does a group of people have to express to the world; A declaration to the world of its oppression. This is especially hard for African Americans, seeming our Declaration to the world, was an event the world part took in. Thus their acknowledgement of our struggle is known, by their historic participation. Thus no more DECLARATION OF OUR AFRICAN AMERICAN EXISTENCES: The third thing that came to mind, was the ending of Ish¬mael Muham¬mad speech, he mentioned several key African American successes of character. One of those mentioned was Marcus Garvey. I caught my breath! I wondered how many African Americans, got from Ish¬mael Muham¬mad, what I got: first it’s time to be self- determinate, second: too many declarations of oppression have gone unanswered and third, Marcus Garvey. For those who don’t know, between 1928 – 1938, Garvey presented the Petition of the Negro Race. This petition outlined the worldwide abuse of Africans and called for Federal legislation to “repatriate” African Americans to Africa. The bill was part of Garvey’s co-operation with Mississippi Senator Theodore Bilbo and Earnest Sevier Cox. Both Bilbo and Cox’s were segregationist and white supremacy and sought to support Garvey’s repatriations ideals. The plan was for 12 million African Americans to move to Libya, as part of economic relieve and the FDR New Deal regarding unemployment (Morgan, C. pg 248)
In his Saviours’ Day speech, February 24, 2013. Farrakhan encouraged ideology by which African Americans can avoid economic disparity. The ideology focused on land ownership, less spending and collective donation funds. Farrakhan’s ‘Economic Blueprint’ options potential donators to donate .35 cent a week (.5 cent a day) to a collective fund, which incurs interest and will be used to purchase machinery, tools, and land for our self-determinate economic security (economicblueprint.org). Economic blueprint is the beginning of a long attempt of Farrakhan and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad to open the eyes of African Americans in a collective effort. In a letter to Dr. Martin Luther King, regarding King’s analysis of black Americans and his comment, “souls left in darkness”: Elijah invitation was accepted. The invitation expressed the following:
“Dear Sir: We have reached a crucial crossroad in the life of our people here in America. Since all of us who love our people are walking toward one goal: freedom, justice and equality from the common enemy—let us realize that in unity there is strength. Let us come together in a meeting to discuss the future plans and programs needed to achieve these goals for our people. If we have any love and respect for each other, let us be intelligent about the matter and present to America and all the world a united black front. The destiny of 22 million is too important to allow disunity among us to prevent our achievement of a united front of Black Americans…” (THE HONORABLE MINISTER LOUIS FARRAKHAN, 2013)
With so much to consider regarding the latest message from the Nation of Islam. I find it interesting the philosophy of a ‘United Black Front’ established by Booker T. Washington and carried on through-out, the African American struggle. In 2011, Stefflova, Dulik, Matthew, Barnholtz-Sloan, Pai, Rebbeck & Walker published an article titled, ‘Dissecting the Within-Africa Ancestry of Populations of African Descent in the America’. This article although confirmed:
“…the distribution and identity of within-African ancestral contributions to groups of African descent in the Americas correspond to colonial histories and slave trade routes. The present analysis of genetic variations implies that African populations contributed differently to distinct populations of the New World, suggesting that the assumption of genetic homogeneity of African ancestry within the Americas is not necessarily valid…” (Stefflova, Dulik, Matthew, Barnholtz-Sloan, Pai, Rebbeck & Walker, 2011).
Homogeneity of African Americans may not be valid, but from a global perceptive regarding population extinction, a different understanding of ancestral identity becomes apparent. Statistically the population of African American blacks, is 39 million (US Census Bureau, 2012). Compared with Africa’s black population of 1.033 billion (Worldpopulation, 2012). I think a critical look at how slavery began in the United States first occurred. Some might find it quit surprising, that at one time in our pre-history; we really were a nation of individual liberty, where by racism and separation were nulled.
Charles Johnson and Patricia Smith historical work, ‘Africans in America’, provide a simple overview which details facts, explaining how African slavery started in America and is associated with economic. In 1606 king James granted the Virginia Company a charter. The company planned getting settlers to work the land and the combined produced would be divided to all members by the number of shares they had. In 1607, 900 settlers founded Jamestown and the Virginia company paid to developed the business venture. But nothing occurred for 3 years. Along with lost profits 840 of the settlers had dies mostly from starvation.
Suddenly desperate to return profit the settlers planted tobacco and by 1617 the Virginia Company and Jamestown was successful. King James attempted to restrict tobacco sales by raising import duty. But England and Europe was too addicted by then and the demand rose rapidly. The demand for tobacco resulted in a supply issues of which more labor was needed to work the tobacco fields. The two options for the planters were to 1.) Massachusetts model: relocate entire families from England to Virginia to work the farms as co-owners. (Selling some of their existing property and increase to larger plantation) 2.) ‘Capitalize’ on England’s lower class citizens making them indentured servants. The latter was most used. But it within itself caused issues in England.
People began to incriminate others, kidnap them, place false charges against them to have them placed on contract of which they would get paid a finder’s fee. The contract with the Virginia Company was 4-7 years and included shelter, and food. After the contract was completed one would be friended and given a parcel of land a suit and a bushel of corn. The laws that govern the indentured workers were few as they were killed, sold (reconstructed) and punished for poor production.
Things changed in 1619 when the Dutch entered the picture. A Dutch ship robbed a Spain ship of Africans took it to Jamestown and sold the African cargo for food. Many of those Africans were
contracted out to the Virginia Company and received the same contractual terms as the indentured workers from England. At this time to be a free person all one had to do was converting to Christianity. There was a blind racial class difference. Class structure was based on economics so there were the planters, Christian colonist and servants. Some servants were permanent to a household while most were under contract. The term slave was not used.
For me this was one of the only times in American history that race was not an issue and true equal standing existed as it would later be worded in the Declaration of Independence: This was the America, before America-1600-1639. In 1639 a chain of events changed America the beautiful into, America the ugly.
A perfect reference is Anthony Johnson, His story was the norm. Anthony Johnson was a contract worker with the The Virginia Bay Charter in Jamestown. He completed his 7 year contract and was provided: property, seeds, live stock, and supplies for construction. He within a few years turned his entitlements into a plantation that was larger than his prior over-seer within the Virginia Bay Charters. He followed the same contract worker procedures as his over-seer. He passed this inheritance on to his son, of which his son had two sons. Between 1670-1690 Anthony Johnson’s “earned effort” was demolished into a few arches. His son had to purchase freedom papers for him and his children.
American the beautiful turned ugly after 1639. In 1639 Maryland declared that a Christian baptism did not make a slave free, starting the end of religious salvation on America. In 1640 planter Hugh Gwyn’s had 3 indentured servants escaped. All three were captured, 2 were white one was black. The two white ones had one year extended to their contract (which was the norm sentence for escape attempts) while the black one, John Punch was sentenced the rest of his natural life (slavery) to Mr. Gwyn’s. No white servant ever was sentenced to life.
Note that environmental and social progress also fueled these changes, such as Europe had less indentured servants to offer seeming other countries offered competitive contracts. Africans and Indians worked the fields better. Stories of labor ownership in the gulf island suggested higher profit returns. Maritime laws govern slave cargo dimensioned. As all of this unfolded demand for tobacco and other raw products from America increased. The world had come to witness the degradation of African people. And in America, African people would never again have a real full EQUAL STANDING IN THE LAND OF LIBERTY AND FREEDOM, no matter what the declarations of independence, references as the Alienable Rights of all men.
America wrote its own ugly inhuman treatment as follows. In 1641 Massachusetts set the trend by legally recognizing slavery as a legal institution of commerce-thus punishing Africans contract workers by re-titling them slaves. Connecticut followed in 1650; Virginia in 1661 and the rest followed through. In 1663 Virginia courts decided any child born to a contract worker would be enslaved for life. This became a major factor as it became the norm that one parent would be free, yet another caught up in some life servitude sentence would have a child born into slavery. Ironic was the tides that overcame some successful African Americans like Anthony Johnson who himself, had one of his contract African workers turned against him and landed a case in court which would forever change/restrict blacks from courts.
The laws continued in 1669 Virginia made it lawful to kill a slave. In 1670 it became legal to kill a runaway slave. The society of America had stratified itself from it simple prior class structure than in the earlier parts of the century. Now there where planters, whites, poor whites, free blacks, indentured contracted blacks, indentured life blacks, slaves (purchased) and slaves (born into slavery). The world often looks at Spain as a major slave trade but England was just as bad. In 1672 England started the Royal African Company which lead the world in slave trading, transporting 45,000 slaves a year. Finally in 1698 Parliament abolished slavery in England and the company was dissolved.
I have always seen this country as nothing more than a business venture of investments. The Virginia Company is a great example of the lengths and unethical human treatment a company will go through to increase profits. What a shame. It is no coincidence that the Nation of Islam and Farrakhan speak of economic survival for African Americans which suggest self determinate moves as a collective. The mere mention of Marcus Garvey might imply a last resort of declarations by which African Americans no longer find it necessary to state/speak to the world, and by action can obtain their natural given reverences, as humans upon this planet, created by God! How receptive, would today modern African Americans be to notions of returning to Africa? Well one historical story which would be a heavy deterrence would be CHARLES TAYLOR.
To learn more about the United States of Africa, watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Gf0mLdGY_E
African Population 2013.(2013). Retrieved from http://worldpopulationreview.com/africa-population-2013/
Johnson, Charles, Smith, Patricia. (1998). Africans In America: America’s Journey Through Slavery. Harcourt Trade Publishing, Boston.
Minister Louis Farrakhan. (2013). Saviours’ Day. Nation of Islam. Retrieved from http://www.economicblueprint.org/#
Morgan, M. Charles. (1985). Redneck Liberal: Thoedore G. Bilbo and the New Deal. Louisiana State University Press, http://books.google.com/books?id=f8_t3_Ss0_MC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
Muhammad, M. Ashahed.(2013). Million Man March 18th Anniversary Set for Tuskegee, Alabama. Retrieved from
Million Man March 18th anniversary set for Tuskegee,
Stefflova, Klara, Dulik, C. Matthew, Barnholtz-Sloan, Jill, Pai A. Athma, Walker, H. Amy & Rebbeck, R. Timothy. (2011). Dissecting the Within-Africa Ancestry of Populations of African Descent in the Americas. Journal Pone. Retrieved from http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0014495
US Census Bureau. (2013). Black African America. CDC. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/minorityhealth/populations/REMP/black.html