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"The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation"
03-15-2015, 07:39 PM
Post: #21
RE: "The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation"
Thanks Bill for giving me an answer because I must admit that I have not read Berlin's works - even though he is right here at the University of Maryland.

Thank you also Kate and Toia and Gene for expressing your feelings on the subject of slavery - a subject that too many of us shy away from, even in our own closed societies.

I suspect that I'm one of the oldest members of this forum, and I was raised in the Upper South during segregation. Even in my college, there was only one black student. I was also raised in a small town in a family that ran the country store. Therefore, my family and I interacted with the black community and had friends (not just customers) within it. We visited black homes and they ours - though not in large numbers, I admit. Black men sat around the store's pot-belly stoves and talked baseball with my uncle. My grandfather never recovered the financial debts owed him by blacks and whites when he handed out food to those in need during the Depression.

1965 and the protest marches are branded on my memory because I began teaching that year. Maryland's judges created busing to achieve desegregation and equal education. That created more problems than it solved because both sides favored their community schools. Many of the schools in black neighborhoods had been there for generations and being bused broke longstanding traditions within those communities. They had also had some excellent teachers who did not come along to the new schools with them. Trust me, there was plenty of tension to go around on both the black and white sides of our classrooms.

Unfortunately, I heard more blacks calling each other "n----s" than I did whites. I once asked why they did that - and why would they punch my lights out if I used the word. They told me it was because those guys were acting like "n-----s." They were using class distinction (if you want to call it that) within their own race. Whites do the same. We really do have a lot of traits in common.

I was recently contacted by a black lawyer from Illinois, who is the generation behind me. He grew up in my village (T.B.) and lived about a half-mile from me. He graduated from my high school in 1970. He got in touch with me after reading the essay that I did about 5-6 years ago on This Old House, the story of my family's home from 1862 to present. I made reference to my great-grandfather Joseph Eli Huntt. This man's great-grandfather bought land from Mr. Huntt after the Civil War, and the two went on to be friends. Without either of us knowing it, this man's mother and I were friends. She was the maid at our school when I went there, and after I finished schooling and teaching, I moved back to the neighborhood and renewed our friendship. This man had then left the family to start out on his own -- so we just missed each other.

He and I have spent some great weeks remembering what life was like back then. Amazingly, we carry on forthright conversations and have not accused either one of us with being racially biased. In fact, several days ago, I was reading something on Rutherford B. Hayes (brought on by something on this forum) and saw reference to that president's coachman being named Albert Hawkins. I now have to contact my friend James Hawkins to see if Albert might be on his family tree.

Great strides have been made in the past fifty years, but there are a lot more to be made. Sometimes I think the government, the media, the lawyers, etc. need to step back and let the educated folks and leaders on both sides try to work things out. I guess I'm just being naive about human nature and the issues of race...
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RE: "The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation" - L Verge - 03-15-2015 07:39 PM

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