Southern Oregonians, January is the month of my birthday and National Hot Tea month! The pandemic has made it impossible for me to turn up the way I want to but at least I can serve the “hot tea” on Black history while making the racists mad as I do it. This week’s hot tea is about one of the oldest demeaning phrases republished in the Trumper handbook! It’s time we talk about the period in history America had the idea of “sending the problem away” and how there were Black leaders that agreed and those that disagreed. Southern Oregon, let’s talk about that historical passage to Africa and the audacity that some of the key figures had in this little scapegoat endeavor.
Abraham Lincoln is the figure head that Republicans love to boast about as their Party’s centerfold of equality but I gotta say the narrative is getting old! It was in 1858 that “Honest Abe” stated in a debate against Senator Stephen A. Douglas, “I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people.”(Freedman, 2012) The Great Emancipator was just as diet racist as they come but his anti-slavery beliefs were bad for the economy. From 1840 to 1850 The U.S. produced 2 million bales of cotton a year and by the end of August 1860, 5 million bales of cotton was produced where a little more than 1 billion pounds was exported to Great Britain’s factories. There was one man that was fed up with the complacency of abolitionists - John Brown. He was more enraged at the abolitionists that wanted slavery to end peacefully, so this true ally was destroying property and disturbing the peace in Virginia to wake people up! The uprising John Brown led in Harpers Ferry ended with him being lynched by the “patriots” of the establishment. Frederick Douglass was a known abolitionist of the time and there was correspondence between him and Brown 2 years before the insurrection. Douglass opposed the plan to begin with and told him to call off the rebellion. Authorities were anxious to get their hands on Frederick Douglass despite the fact that he had nothing to do with the uprising of Harpers Ferry, so he fled to Canada, then England. He came back in time for the 1860 presidential election where he stated that Lincoln was, “a man of will and nerve, [who] will not back down from his own assertions...”. (Freedman, 2012)
This is the part where political beliefs should always ruin a friendship because Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln had very different viewpoints of anti-slavery. “Lincoln and the Republicans opposed the expansion of slavery but believed that the Constitution protected slavery in the Southern states,”(Freedman, 2012) while Douglass endorsed Radical Abolitionist nominee Gerrit Smith. There are still some Oregonians that say that the “Stars and Bars” are their heritage and I’m wondering if anyone told them about April 12,1861. This was the date that the Civil War started but, more specifically, the rebel cannons opened fire on the American flag at Fort Sumter and replaced it with the rebel flag declaring themselves an independent nation. As we have all seen, there are still supporters of the Confederacy among us but they’re never called terrorists or foreign agents. A key player in the African-American Exodus was Bishop Henry M. Turner who was born free in South Carolina and became a preacher before the Civil War. During the era of Reconstruction he held minor positions in office as a Republican but the upward mobility he wanted for the Black race was denied by white-controlled Georgia because the Legislature refused to seat Black people. The Supreme Court ruling in 1883 that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was unconstitutional was what sealed his belief that white people were vehemently opposed to Black equality. At an emigration convention in 1893 he stated that, “‘For God hates the submission of cowardice. But on the other hand to talk about physical resistance is literally madness...The idea of eight or ten million ex slaves contending with sixty million people of the most powerful race under heaven!’ Obviously the only alternative was a mass exodus.”(Fredrickson, 1995) Lincoln held a meeting in 1862 mostly Black clergymen and promoted the idea that Black people should emigrate to Central America and he went on to say that, “Your race are suffering, in my judgement, the greatest wrong inflicted on any people. But even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with the white race...Perhaps it is better for both of us to be separated.”(Freedman, 2012)
Frederick Douglass was correct in calling Abraham Lincoln a genuine representation of American prejudice because the white mans’ idea of a Black mans’ freedom is lukewarm and the rights of Black women are nonexistent. The handful that raged against the machine of colonialism were not marked heroes of their day but they’re glorified now for doing the bare minimum. The descendants of colonizers are quick to compare a minor inconvenience to slavery but bear no witness to the system that enforces this oppression and who continue to profit from it.
Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind An American Friendship Russell Freedman, 2012.
Black Liberation George M. Fredrickson, 1995
Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jennifer Frank, 2006