In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson launched the annual February celebration of “Negro History Week,” the precursor to African American History Month.

Woodson’s mission was to dispel the myths being taught to African American students that they had no history before the arrival of European slave traders in Africa. In addition, racial slavery in America was an archaic practice that only benefited a small number of slave owners

The story of the African American odyssey in the United States is so voluminous that it would be impossible to cover in one 500-word commentary. Therefore, this short piece of writing is simply a scant narrative to introduce the interested reader to the history of people of African descent.

Most scientific scholars have confirmed that Africa is the cradle of civilization. Over 200,000 years ago the Hominids emerged into Africa’s space: To be more specific, the first human beings to walk upon the face of the earth were Africans.

In 1619, a year before the Mayflower landed on Plymouth Rock, John Rolfe recorded in his journal that 20 African slaves were ordered to the shores of Jamestown, Virginia, and sold to Gov. George Yearley in exchange for food and supplies — thus ushering in the era of racial slavery and white supremacy in what would later become the United States.

Over the next 250 years, racial slavery became the economic engine that set the wheels into motion for America’s first big business and capitalism. It’s estimated that more than 15 million African slaves were forcibly transplanted into the New World. And over 7 million more would perish on slaves ships that historians would correctly describe as floating concentration camps.

Although African slaves were stripped of their belongings, branded, chained and held below deck in the most inhumane conditions, they fought back against their tormentors, and in some cases, they were triumphed.

The wealth made by many participants in the slave trade is incalculable. The cotton that slaves grew and picked would clothe half the world and had a direct effect on global capitalism, trade, banking, insurance, shipping, etc.

The 13 colonies grew so rich and powerful that in 1776 the Second Continental Congress declared a Revolutionary War of Independence from Britain. Eighty-five years later, 11 southern states withdrew from the Union and provoked a bloody Civil War over slavery.

As a result, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves held in rebellious states. This momentous decree paved the way for the 13th Amendment to the Constitution: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude... shall exist within the United States.” After 246 brutal years of slavery, the 13th Amendment ended the long night of captivity for millions of African American slaves.

A huge thank you to Dr. Woodson for pointing out to me that the mis- education of young African Americans must be challenged every day and the true story of African Americans’ journey from “Slavery to Freedom” must be taught to all generations — especially young African Americans.

Tarris Woods is a former Galveston City Councilman for District 1.

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(27) comments

Randy Chapman

Many peoples around the world have been enslaved and gotten over it and moved on. Why is it that the United States continues to be bashed by distant, generations removed, descendants of a dark time in our history?

Charles Douglas

[thumbup][thumbup] I did not mention it before but since you asked Mr. Chapman, ...two words Democratic Agitation!!!! ( Keep the Poor, POOR, and poorly educated!) ...give'em food stamp, and welfare, then watch the votes roll in for DEMOCRATS! Example, six African-American staff people just recently quit the WARREN Campaign because they said they were just there for window dressing. They were shutout of any decision making or meaningful positions because of who they were! NOW this same Candidate will drop the word RACIST in a New York Heartbeat! She is a Hipocrite of the HIGHEST ORDER!

Cary Semar

"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it," said George Santayana. There is enough truth in that statement to make Black Americans wary of forgetting their past.

Perhaps the stain on the honor of the white race due to slavery would have been washed away by now, if we had not refreshed it with new sins in every generation.

Bailey Jones

It's impossible to calculated the benefit of slavery to the economy of our early whites only republic, or the damage done to African Americans and Africa by centuries of industrial scale slavery and brutal colonization, but I'll add a couple of things.

At the time of the civil war, slaves represented the largest category of wealth (property) in the nation, as well as the largest investment of capital. Slavery supported the industrial revolution in the north, as well as the development of banking, insurance, etc. Two commodities drove the economy of the west - cotton and sugar - and they consumed the lives of millions of slaves.

Also, it's not widely discussed (because of the pervasive myth that Africans were "savages"), but many slaves kidnapped from Africa were Muslims. If their religion hadn't been stripped from them along with the rest of their culture and civilization, Islam would have been a significant minority religion in early America.

Here are a couple of books that I've enjoyed about the early African American experience -

The Half Has Never Been Told - Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism By: Edward E. Baptist

The War Before the War - Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America's Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War By: Andrew Delbanco

Some shorter articles are:

https://www.voanews.com/usa/all-about-america/americas-first-muslims-were-slaves

https://www.forbes.com/sites/hbsworkingknowledge/2017/05/03/the-clear-connection-between-slavery-and-american-capitalism/#4c1fc29f7bd3

A great podcast about the legacy of "40 acres and a mule" is - https://gimletmedia.com/shows/uncivil/kwhaj8/the-deed

You'll find a few more very interesting historical podcasts there are well.

Robert Braeking

African slave descendants continue to be enslaved today. Not with chains, brands, and involuntary servitude but with the Democrat party's onerous programs and suppressive policies. But rather than being involuntary it is voluntary. Demands for school choice, children's rights (Margaret Sanger was very clear), and abusive sentencing for minor infractions should be shouted from the rooftops. Opportunities exist for all who would take them. President Trump is doing something about the problem. He is taking prison reform, children's rights, and school choice head-on. The values in African descendant families cannot be attributed solely to the melanin content of their skin. Many Democrats might be surprised to know that their values are American values just like all Americans.

Bailey Jones

"The values in African descendant families cannot be attributed solely to the melanin content of their skin." Please, go on.

Charles Douglas

Mr. Jones paaaalease!! There is nothing wrong with a man knowing his past, but allowing past facts in different times to pollute his heart with the miseries, and plight suffered by his ancestors is crazy. We were meant to go forward and through... tough times, and to not STOP and CAMPOUT with hurts of the past. Yes African-Americans helped this country to prosper, of that there is no doubt, but we can recognize the contributions of Black America without holding grudges and seeking vengeance against our brothers and sisters of different backgrounds! Doing so is like having a perpetual wound which is not allowed to heal. It seems like we just keep pulling the healing scab which blocks HATE and BLAME, off the wound ensuring constant division in this country! African-Americans are apart of the American fabric which made this country great. Irish immigrants can say the same, so can Scottish immigrants! To this I say embrace your heritage and your past but under no circumstances, should your heritage or your past become a roadblock to your future. You mentioned in past posts that your family is mixed, with African-Americans, good, ...mine is mixed with Hispanics and Whites! The trick I use with any of mý family is to preach love, competition, prosperity, and hard work! I love and support all of them anyway I can! I never dwell on the "POOR ME" syndrome! It makes no sense for African-Americans to have invested what we have in America, and remain moody and near the bottom of everything by dwelling on how good our SLAVE forefathers made it for the rest of the world...or how bad they were treated! We have the opportunities here to reach up, pull up, and climb up like the next man! However, one thing we must do before all that can happen,...WE MUST FIRST LOOK UP!! God is no respecter of persons or color, but he is a respecter of faith in him, and his plans for our lives. It is a two way street though, where we must diligently seek after both. Lastly, I urge anyone who whines about how devided this country is to go look in the mirror.

Bailey Jones

As usual, I half agree with you, Charles. What I would say is that no one can gain repentance without acknowledging their error. Too many Americans still live in denial of our national sins - and in ignorance of the contributions of our minorities. And as long as opportunity in this country depends on zip code and skin color, I'll keep reminding Americans of the reasons why. All Americans should strive for excellence, and all Americans should be working toward giving all Americans that opportunity.

Bailey Jones

And I'd add this - the history of blacks in America isn't just a history of oppression. African Americans have always been our hardest working, most resilient, and most creative and innovative people. The story of black America is a heroic story, one that any African American should be inspired by. Listen to some of the podcasts in my earlier post, I think you'll enjoy and be inspired by them.

Don Schlessinger

Well said Charles.

David Hardee

Mr. Douglas, your post is an excellent explanation/analogy of the self destruction created by living in the mindset of being a victim of the past inequities.

Emile Pope

The Republican Party is built around a victim mentality...

Randy Chapman

Amen [thumbup]

Charles Douglas

Another thing GOD bless "TRUMP DIESEL!"......

Charles Douglas

[thumbup][thumbup]

Kelly Naschke

Mr Douglas, I want to thank you for taking the time out to share your opinions. I agree with just about 100% of everything you say. You are a Democrat’s worst nightmare....a black man that is intelligent, educated, and hasn’t followed the herd to the trough of empty promises. I think more black folks are starting to come around and see the light as well. Our presidents popularity is on the rise in the black community and you know the liberals are in panic mode!

Charles Douglas

Thank you Mr. Naschke, and you are right, the DEMS are losing their grip on those invisible "shackles" they have had on African-Americans for decades. I think what we are witnessing is a NEW ERA,..a brand-new ball game with BLACK voting issues in this country. President Trump is definitely out to change BLACK votes automatically going to DEMOCRATS. Up to now, no other Republican has really tried to accomplish what he has.

Raymond Lewis

K. Naschke, you may be correct but exactly what "black community" are you referencing?

Gary Miller

Robert> African Americans continue to choose slavery over citizenship by voting for Progressive/ liberal policies that perpretrate government dependency for their race. It looks like some afro Americans are beginning to accept Pres Trump's invitation to join freedom from Democrats. His approval by blacks has reached upwards of 30% and may go even higher. Will they vote for freedom from Democrats in those numbers? Time will tell but it looks likely many will. Free at last ML King said. It took time for them to understand "free from what".

Emile Pope

That’s just a lot of made up garbage Robert Braeking...

Kelly Naschke

If I didn’t know any better ....I’d think Mr. Lewis was trying to bait me. Can’t really argue my assertion...and the facts that show Trump is gaining support in the “black community”..so that’s what you resort to? Low blow bro....

Charles Douglas

Mr. Naschke, there are African-Americans who are going to vote for Trump who are not going on top of a roof and shout about it. They are not going to answer a poll, and they won't care about Democratic Candidates going into Black Churches maķing speeches in Ebonics with Hot sauce in their purses like CROOKED did in 2016! " I have come a mighty looooog way,..and I am in Noooooo ways tireddddd!" That old tired rhetoric and convoluted BS won't be working anymore on a growing amount of African-Americans! We want production, and results, not lying promises of appeasement like we have receieved all over America for decades! You can go to any Democratic operated City and you will see What I am speaking of. Go to Chicago, Detroit, DC, Los Angles, San Francisco too. Yes, that enlightening movement you referenced Mr. Naschke is blooming even as I type right now! The DEMOCRATS are wearing wet boots because of it too... they are beginning to run scared! Remember too that Trump does not have to win nor carry every black vote! He got around eight percent last time. If he gets sixteen to twenty percent in November and many nationally, even some Democrats on CNN thinks so, it will be GAME OVER ...and not just game over, but LAND SLIDE!!!![beam]

Mary Gillespie

As a nation, we seem to have forgotten how horribly indentured slaves were treated. Failure to cooperate or attempts to run away so increased the indenture term that it WAS slavery in all but name.

Further, because a black slave was property for life and therefore valuable, indentured "servants" were often treated worse than contemporary black slaves.

I urge you to read "White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America" by Don Jordan. It is extensively researched and footnoted.

Bailey Jones

Thanks for this, I've added it to my audible wish list. There's an interview with one of the authors here - https://www.npr.org/books/titles/138239610/white-cargo-the-forgotten-history-of-britains-white-slaves-in-america

Randy Chapman

And they have assimilated and moved on from that history, unlike far too many that were born 150 years after slavery ended here.

Bailey Jones

Wow - that's a harsh judgement on a population of 5 years olds.

Randy Chapman

Math was a little off.....120 years.

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