African Slavery & The West Indies

West Indies Slavery“The West Indies was one of the last places on earth where enslaved Africans wanted to find themselves. Its system of bondage was especially brutal, and American planters found it a convenient dumping ground for troublesome slaves. Shipping a slave to the West Indies was like sentencing him to death. George Washington as one of the slave owners who did this, as he recounted in a letter describing the arrangements he made to rid himself of a slave who kept running away.” -From, “Standing In The Shadows” By: John Head

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Black History Fact Of The Day: How Enslaved Africans Built Brooklyn

Red, Black & Green Elsie Law LogoI came across a 2012 Huffington Post article written by Alan Singer that explores how enslaved Africans built up Brooklyn. The article also discusses a Brooklyn-located African burial ground.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“At the time of the American Revolution about a third of the population of Kings County were enslaved Africans, but their contributions to clearing the forests, dredging the harbors, and building the infrastructure of Brooklyn has largely been erased from history. The former African cemetery in the Kings County town of New Lots is now a playground between Schenck, New Lots, and Livonia Avenues and Barbey Street under the IRT #3 line “El.” It is next to the New Lots branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.

Ironically, the park is named for one of the largest slaveholder families in the area…The plaque mentions that the “park was the site of Public School 72, which was abandoned in 1944,” but it does not mention the enslaved Africans who lived there and built the early farms, roads, and homes of Brooklyn.”

Click here for a link to the entire article.

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The Bombing Of Pearl Harbor & The Creation Of Black Detroit

Detroit 1942“In the car on the way to my Aunt Mildred’s for my ninth birthday party, we heard on the radio that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. America was at war.
‘And on my birthday, too,’ I murmured.

Everything changed then. America mobilized. No more butter. White margarine with a little orange button of dye that you squeezed into it and beat until it was yellow, so that when you spread it on your bread, it booked like butter instead of lard. My Girl Scout troop collected scrap metal for the war effort. We had to save bacon drippings in coffee cans and turn them in. I beautifully brought the cans of fat in my wagon to the collection site. Nothing went to waste everything was saved, collected, and delivered for the war effort. My mother went to work in a factory that made bomb sights. All popular music changed to war songs. Patriotism was in the air. We were the good guys. We were fighting evil and God was certainly on our side.

Detroit became known as the Arsenal of Democracy. The automobile plants were converted to factories producing tasks and guns. They were gobbling up the workforce and needed more manpower. The factories reached out to the blacks of the South, who began migrating to the North for jobs and higher wages. Trouble was, everyone welcomed the black laborers into the factories, but nobody wanted them and their families to live in the all-white neighborhoods. The new workforce of 200,000 was corralled into sixty square blocks on the east side of the city.

Detroit had become a stronghold of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, and when tensions finally erupted, an angry mob of thousands of whites began pulling blacks off streetcars and beating them to death in full view of the white police.

Riots broke out and the police killed seventeen people, all black. I was to enter Hutchins Intermediate school, but the school’s opening in September was delayed a week. I was told the reason was: ‘The colored are rioting.'” -From, “Lessons In Becoming Myself” By: Ellen Burstyn

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