I was overcome with emotion as I embarked upon the steps of the great American memorial dedicated to Abraham Lincoln. I began to think of all of the slaves that died prior to being freed and those that hadn’t heard that they were freed. He had to be a man of great conscious to free the very persons upon whose back this country was built. The economic climate associated with the situation had to be extremely taxing. The issue of slavery had split the seams of the nation into shreds with brother fighting against brother depending solely upon geography and socioeconomic status.
I wonder at times whether the people involved even thought that they were being inhumane and if they actually believed the creed of hatred that they subscribed to:
- African Americans were considered to be 3/5th of a human
- In the decades past the Civil War we were thought to be descendants of monkeys
- The evolutionists taught that we were only capable of learning the basics like farming etc
- Most of the classical educational opportunities were not afforded to the ex-slaves because the whites taught that we were only good for manual labor and should be taught to do this tasks that keep us close to the south
- Jim Crow and disenfranchisement ran rapid in the south from which I was born and raised.
- Several of our great leaders (Booker T Washington and others) took advantage of this new educational philosophy by gaining the respect of philanthropists only to funnel their money to the A&T (agricultural and technical) colleges where these new ideals were being taught. Others such as Richard Wright Sr. of Savannah State College and W.E.B. Dubois refused to bow to the tide and continued to teach classical studies to the young blacks thirsty for knowledge. Out of their lineage we have some of the greatest black financial consultants, the Harlem Renaissance, great scholars, and literary agents. I know that Tuskegee had its place in our history, but I am not focused on its creed bound in the pages of Up From Slavery.
The remnants of a time in the not so distant past seem to linger on the network news even in 2011. It saddens me that slick senators claim class warfare even in the times of our nation’s economic struggle as if there is no class structure in these United States. As if there are no large disparity between the poor in our country and rich. How is it that we are paying a greater percentage of our salaries to the feds while the millionaires of this country enjoy the Bush tax break of 15% of their income being taxed. That seems to be extremely unbalanced. It is said that we are all afforded the same opportunities in this country to become an entrepreneur or rich. Minority communities seem to be a greater disadvantage than most. I saw a sign from the 60’s that read “no dogs, blacks or mexicans”. I can’t help but wonder why the white community is so scared of the minorities of this country. Are we the sleeping giant?
I walked up the marble stairs to behold the face of the man that released my ancestors from the bonds on slavery. I think about the feeling that was so overwhelming when I cast my vote in the 2008 presidential election of Barak Obama. A black man had a chance to sit in the white house. There were lines of black people lined up to vote and the NAACP was on hand just in case pollsters tried to disenfranchise our people like in the late 1890’s shortly after the ending of the Reconstruction Period.
I don’t care if his mother was a white woman or if his father was African. He is closer to black than most of us mutt stricken black people in the states. He is smart. He is from the great state of Illinois. He is a Harvard graduate. He was a Senator. He was a lawyer. He is married to a black woman. He is now the sitting president of the United States of America. He inherited a mess and tried to make something promising of it for our children, but the rhetoric that we experience is laced with undercurrents of the Lincoln era.
I truly believe in my heart that the Republicans should call him a uppity nigger and get it over with. We know that they are thinking it. They have called him everything but… I do believe that they could be waiting for him to act like folks so they can say “Yeah he’s just like those rappers.. violent” but Obama keeps his cool and defeats his enemy with brain power.
Lincoln, our 16th President, martyr for the freedom of slaves, and uniter of a broken nation, sat proudly on the top of the marble staircase staring out onto the national mall poised with the character that I imaged he had. He was a man of integrity. He was a man who knew what the bible had to say about the wrongs of our nation. He had the look of a father that was waiting for a long lost son to return home from philandering his inheritance. As I read aloud the sayings on the walls of the monument, my eyes welled up with tears for he knew why he was in the presidential seat. He knew he had to preserve the union at all costs and he knew that God was calling upon him to do what he did. He must have prayed for the cup to pass but decided to let the will of the Lord be done in America. He set the bruised backs of my ancestors free. He didn’t live to see what they would become because an assassins bullet would guarantee otherwise. Perhaps if he would have lived a little while longer, things would have been different, but only God knows.
The institution was only a vehicle to get my ancestors here. To a land where they could be free physically, mentally and spiritually. Now if only we would walk in the freedom afforded us in this land.