Erasing History…

Want to know what’s irritating? Scrolling through Facebook seeing people from two opposing “groups” sharing the exact same meme “at” the other group.

You’re wondering which meme, aren’t you? I’m not saying. Let me put it this way: both groups want to preserve our country’s history…

The problem I see is that there are elements of our country’s history that are being glossed over and parts that are being erased all together.

I will not debate monuments or the vandalization of them. Not the point of this post. But I will say that there is a vast amount of our history that we are not being taught.

Friday I shared about Juneteenth, a very important date on our American calendar that I first learned about a couple of years ago. Why is it that the story of our Independence doesn’t really talk about that?

Because so many people are eager to “keep our history” I thought I’d write a post on the things most history books never taught me, or that have been altered so they don’t even reflect what actually happened. I hope you will take time to click on links and dig deeper into each of these parts of American History that many haven’t been taught.

Did you know that “Affirmative Action” originally only benefited white Americans? A quote from When Affirmative Action was White: “As New Deal politicians began constructing government programs to deal with welfare, work, and war in the 1930s and 1940s, they deliberately excluded or treated differently the vast majority of African Americans.” I can only think that economic and educational gaps we see today would be less significant if those “Affirmative Actions” had been applied fairly to Black Americans at that time.

That is history you need to know.

Another interesting fact:
Lincoln’s initial reason for freeing southern slaves was to weaken the south militarily and economically. Black people were being used to to reinforce troops, transport goods, and to support the Confederate Army and Lincoln wanted to weaken that Army:

Lincoln… believed that it was primarily up to the states to oversee the progressive abolition of slavery in their own individual power…. The Emancipation Proclamation served more as a military maneuver than a political maneuver. At the same time, this action cemented Lincoln as being a staunchly aggressive abolitionist and would ensure that slavery would eventually be removed from the entire United States.

Citation: Emancipation Proclamation: Effects, Impacts, and Outcomes

Want another interesting fact? Once slaves were freed they had no where to go. Learning to read was illegal and they had only the skills needed to work the labors of farms. Looking for a way to feed their families left many freedmen in trouble because “loitering” had become illegal. A 2015 issue of Time Magazine recalls a New York Times story from July 1865, headlined “The Negro Question in Texas” states:

[F]reedmen were being interrogated as to whom they belonged to; if they did not name someone, they would be accused of idleness and put to work for the city. “[So], if this was an outbreak of the old spirit, a drawing distinctions based upon color alone, giving white men the right to be as idle as they please, but not tolerating idleness among the blacks; allowing whites to work where they please, but sending blacks ‘home to their masters’ or to the public works; it is a system which will have to be changed at Galveston, or wherever it is entered upon,” the Times concluded.


Khan Academy:

After slavery, state governments across the South instituted laws known as Black Codes. These laws granted certain legal rights to blacks, including the right to marry, own property, and sue in court, but the Codes also made it illegal for blacks to serve on juries, testify against whites, or serve in state militias. The Black Codes also required black sharecroppers and tenant farmers to sign annual labor contracts with white landowners. If they refused they could be arrested and hired out for work. Most southern black Americans, though free, lived in desperate rural poverty. Having been denied education and wages under slavery, ex-slaves were often forced by the necessity of their economic circumstances to rent land from former white slave owners. These sharecroppers paid rent on the land by giving a portion of their crop to the landowner.

Article written by John Louis Recchiuti. This article is licensed under a CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

Read and research the results of the 13th Amendment. According to “The Classroom”:

To make the spirit of the Emancipation proclamation national and permanent, President Abraham Lincoln persuaded Congress to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1865. This legislation made slavery and other forms of involuntary servitude illegal in the United States, except as a punishment for convicted criminals. Henceforth, African Americans, and all others living within the boundaries of the nation, would be free. (I, Jennifer, bolded the sentence that you MUST understand.)

David Kenneth

So what happened after the slaves were freed and had job, loitering became “illegal” and came with a prison time. According to “The Root”:

Across the South, laws were instituted that stripped African Americans of their rights, making celebrations like Juneteenth a distant memory. A prison-labor paradigm developed. Jail owners profited from the hard labor of their black inmates who were incarcerated for petty crimes like vagrancy, which carried long sentences. Prisons sold their workforce to nearby industrial companies to work as coal miners, for example, for as much as 9 dollars a month, and inmates were often worked to death. Elsewhere, whites fabricated debt owed by blacks, forcing them into peonage and trading years of free work for their freedom, a practice that spread across the Bible Belt. (I, Jennifer, bolded words that you must understand.)

Hillary Crosley

What were the Black Codes?

To force the former slaves to work, elite Southerners instituted a series of Black Codes. These laws applied only to African Americans. The Codes took advantage of the recently freed slaves’ lack of financial resources. When arrested for such crimes as vagrancy, African Americans would receive prison sentences that required bail. Most freed slaves were unable to pay the amount and had to work off their fines on plantations. The Black Codes were initially constitutional because the Thirteenth Amendment’s wording allowed servitude for those convicted of criminal charges. Nothing in the Amendment spoke to the requirement for the convictions to be fair.

David Kenneth

Please consider reading the extra resources I’m including today. The effects of what you see in these articles touches us today. You will not be able to understand the anger of Black Americans until you really understand and have learned this history. That history directly impacts our nation’s current state. It wasn’t that long ago.

So when I see white Americans up in arms, saying we shouldn’t forget our history, I want to say, EXACTLY!

I think all of us need to read MORE history.

For fun I’m reading a book totally unrelated to racism and I heard a quote that hit me right between the eyes:

You know the greatest lesson of history? It’s that history is whatever the victors say it is. That’s the lesson. Whoever wins… that’s who decides the history. We act in our own self interest… of course we do. Name me a person or a nation who does not. The trick is figuring out what your interests are.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

“History is whatever the victors say it is.”

History textbooks that got it so very wrong:

A Connecticut fourth grade social studies textbook falsely claimed that slaves were treated just like “family.” A Texas geography textbook referred to enslaved Africans as “workers.” In Alabama, up until the 1970s, fourth graders learned in a textbook called “Know Alabama” that slave life on a plantation was “one of the happiest ways of life.”

Daniella Silva

Think on that and how it applies to how we remember and teach the history of our nation. If you want to dig deeper, another source I mentioned in an earlier post is Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James Loewen.

I’ll close with one that speaks to the ongoing Civil Rights Movement as I’ve seen MLK’s quotes thrown at Black people from white people… It’s almost like white people think that he was loved and revered while he lived. Nope. “Seventy-five percent of Americans disapproved of the civil rights leader as he spoke out against the Vietnam War and economic disparity.” (James C. Cobb, Zócalo Public Square SMITHSONIANMAG.COM 
APRIL 4, 2018)

Danielle Coke | IG @OhHappyDani | Danielle’s words to go along with the image she created: “Don’t let his feel-good quotes fool you – Dr. King’s message is more than just peace, love, and dreams. It’s a rebuke to those who are silent in the face of injustice and a propeller to direct action that brings about real change!!” 💛 #ReclaimMLK

* How the end of slavery led to starvation and death for millions of black Americans
* Exploiting black labor after the abolition of slavery READ THIS ONE!!! PLEASE!!!
* What Happened After Slavery Ended? David Kenneth – Updated May 17, 2019
* Slavery By Another Name
* What Happened After the First Juneteenth by Lily Rothman
* When Were Blacks Truly Freed From Slavery? Hillary Crosley 6/15/12
* Google: “What happened after the slaves were freed?” You can spend hours following that trail.
* Got an open mind and ready to dig really deep? The Emancipation Proclamation Didn’t Free Any Slaves
* All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr
* Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James Loewen
* New Series On How To Teach History, for K-12 Teachers: James Loewen’s series on how to go through race conversations with students
* The Emancipation Proclamation Didn’t Free Any Slaves
* From Juneteenth to the Tulsa massacre: What isn’t taught in classrooms has a profound impact
* Even Though He Is Revered Today, MLK Was Widely Disliked by the American Public When He Was Killed By James C. Cobb, Zócalo Public Square – April 4, 2018
* Danielle Coke | IG @OhHappyDani

Donate at

Previous posts in this series:
Intro: #OnceYouSeeRacism
1. Build your “talking about racism” muscles. – {general racism}
2. The Dangers of the Colorblind Mentality – (color blind mentality}
3. Be Color Brave, Not Color Blind {color blind mentality}
4. See and Honor Color {color blind mentality; “the talk”}
5. What is an Ally? {allyship}
6. Allyship – digging deeper {allyship}
7. What Privilege? {white privilege}
8. Nobody is mad at you for being white. Nobody. {white privilege}
9. What “White Privilege” is and is not. {white privilege}
10. Juneteenth… {freedom, history}
11. You are here… {freedom, history}

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
This entry was posted in #OnceYouSeeRacism, Racism/Race Issues. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Erasing History…

  1. Pingback: Jim Crow Laws | thehamricks

  2. Pingback: Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man | thehamricks

  3. Pingback: Systemic Racism and Bob the Tomato | thehamricks

  4. Pingback: Mortality and Black Skin | thehamricks

  5. Pingback: Redlining | thehamricks

  6. Pingback: Bootstraps and the GI Bill | thehamricks

  7. Pingback: This is Us and Why We Should Celebrate Black History Month | thehamricks

  8. Pingback: Microaggressions | thehamricks

  9. Pingback: Grace, Justice, & Mercy | thehamricks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s