The Dashiki – The History of The Radical Garment

By DAMOLA DUROSOMO

DIASPORA—The dashiki is clothing as politics.

It might not exactly seem that way in its present state—a revived, streetwear trend largely associated with the intricate and highly recognizable ‘Angelina print,’ but its story is one of African innovation and Black resistance.

The word “dashiki” comes from the Yoruba word danshiki, used to refer to the loose-fitting pullover which originated in West Africa as a functional work tunic for men, comfortable enough to wear in the heat. The Yoruba loaned the word danshiki from the Hausa term dan ciki, which means “underneath.” The dan chiki garment was commonly worn by males under large robes. Similar garments were found in sacred Dogon burial caves in Southern Mali, which date back to the 12th and 13th centuries.

The roots of the garment are not lost on anyone—it is an unmistakably African item. Its symbolic significance, however, was molded thousands of miles outside of the continent’s borders. It was those of African descent, whose ancestors were hauled to North America in chains, who carried this torch. The Civil Rights and Black Panther Movements of the 1960s and early 70s gave the dashiki its political potency. African Americans adopted the article as a means of rejecting Western cultural norms. This is when the dashiki moved beyond style and functionality to become an emblem of Black pride, as illustrative of the beauty of blackness as an afro or a raised fist.

Its meaning developed in the same vein as the “Africa as Promised Land” rhetoric that fueled movements like Pan-Africanism and Rastafarianism. Perhaps ironically, these Afrocentric philosophies—birthed outside of continental Africa—helped shaped some of the fiercest notions about African identity and the politics of blackness.

Many of these outward concepts of African identity adopted by Black Americans were once again reinforced by people on the actual continent. Principles taught by Civil Rights leaders were widely embraced by leaders of African liberation movements, and the revolutionary politics of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers, helped transform Fela Kuti’s relaxed highlife into the socially-charged afrobeat that he’s lauded for today.

This transference of ideas is much less odd than it seems—perhaps such philosophies could have only been nurtured within the context of the Black American and Caribbean experience. The “promised land” could be more clearly envisioned by those savagely removed from its promise, and the dashiki could become something greater than itself when worn by Black folks who were, for hundreds of years, denied the opportunity to embrace anything that represented their African heritage.

Haki Kweli Shakur 300 Year Struggle of The Richmond African Burial Grounds

 

Like the Black Americans who championed it in the mid 20th century, the dashiki is no less African because the bulk of its identity was shaped in a different land. The dashiki, whether worn in Lagos or Washington D.C. is loudly and proudly black.

The dashiki’s political vigor weakened towards the end of the 60s when it became popular among white counterculture groups, whose adoption of the garment—based primarily on its aesthetic appeal—undermined its status as a sign of Black identity. Retailers began to import dashikis made in India, Bangladesh and Thailand in large numbers. These versions, often featured the East African-associated kanga print, commonly worn as wrappers by women in Kenya and Tanzania.

During this period, notable Black intellectuals began to warn their communities against the trivialization of dashikis and other symbols of Black beauty. “Donning a dashiki and growing a bush is fine if it energizes the wearer for real action; but ‘Black is beautiful’ is dangerous if it amounts only to wrapping oneself up in one’s own glory and magnificence,” wrote Civil Rights activist and politician, Sterling Tucker in his 1971 book Black Strategies for Change in America.

The dashiki lost some of its fervor in the tail-end of the 20th century when its use in the United States was largely limited to ceremonies or festivities, or as a pop culture stereotype.

Through it all, the dashiki maintains its underlying cultural significance—even with its recent reappearance on the fashion landscape, which some might consider a fad—the dashiki still relays a commanding message. It can’t be worn without the acknowledgment of the impression that it gives to others: that the wearer has made the conscious decision to put on something that is recognized as being distinctively and uniquely African.

Haki Kweli Shakur Talks Dr Mutulu Shakur & New Afrikan Political Prisoners The k.Kinte Show

 

The dashiki has become a ready-to-wear conveyor of blackness, linking the continent and the diaspora by a shared assertion of the value of an original Black creation. Its inherent symbolism comes from a struggle against white supremacy and an embracing of African culture as its antitheses—yes, this is a lot of weight to put on a clothing item, but symbols are truly that powerful. So much so, that when a Black person dons a dashiki they are sporting one of the most universally understood interpretations of the phrase “I’m Black and I’m proud,” without having to utter a word.

Quotations of Fanon ( Frantz Fanon ) #DECOLONIZE

  • The national bourgeoisie discovers its historical mission as intermediary. As we have seen, its vocation is not to transform the nation but prosaically serve as a conveyor belt for capitalism, forced to camouflage itself behind the mask of neocolonialism. The national bourgeoisie, with no misgivings and with great pride, revels in the role of agent in its dealings with the Western bourgeoisie. This lucrative role, this function as small-time racketeer, this narrow-mindedness and lack of ambition are symptomatic of the incapacity of the national bourgeoisie to fulfil its historic role as bourgeoisie. The dynamic, pioneering aspect, the inventive, discoverer-of-new-worlds aspect common to every national bourgeoisie is here lamentably absent. At the core of the national bourgeoisie of the colonial countries a hedonistic mentality prevails—because on a psychological level it identifies with the Western bourgeoisie from which it has slurped every lesson. It mimics the Western bourgeoisie in its negative and decadent aspects without having accomplished the initial phases of exploration and invention that are the assets of this Western bourgeoisie whatever the circumstances. In its early days the national bourgeoisie of the colonial countries identifies with the last stages of the Western bourgeoisie. Don’t believe it is taking short cuts. In fact it starts at the end. It is already senile, having experienced neither the exuberance nor the brazen determination of youth and adolescence.
    Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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You know full well we are exploiters. You know full well we have taken the gold and minerals and then oil from the “new continents,” and shipped them back to the old metropolises. Not without excellent results in the shape of palaces, cathedrals, and centers of industry; and then when crisis loomed, the colonial markets were there to cushion the blow or divert it. Stuffed with wealth, Europe granted humanity de jure to all its inhabitants: for us, a man means an accomplice, for we have all profited from colonial exploitation.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Haki Kweli Shakur – Scientific Socialism is The Combatant to Eliminate Capitalism

Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new  evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is
extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it  is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

Tags: liberation, politics, psychology, revolution
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To speak a language is to take on a world, a culture.
Frantz Fanon

Tags: linguistics, politics, psychology
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Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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I am black; I am in total fusion with the world, in sympathetic affinity with the earth, losing my id in the heart of the cosmos — and the white man, however intelligent he may be, is incapable of understanding Louis Armstrong or songs from the Congo. I am black, not because of a curse, but because my skin has been able to capture all the cosmic effluvia. I am truly a drop of sun under the earth.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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The oppressed will always believe the worst about themselves.
Frantz Fanon

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In the World through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself.
Frantz Fanon

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…There are too many idiots in this world. And having said it, I have the burden of proving it.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

Tags: humor, humour, idiots
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O my body, make of me always a man who questions!
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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Everything can be explained to the people, on the single condition that you want them to understand.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Tags: citizenship, development, education, politics
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The basic confrontation which seemed to be colonialism versus anti-colonialism, indeed capitalism versus socialism, is already losing its importance. What matters today, the issue which blocks the horizon, is the need for a redistribution of wealth. Humanity will have to address this question, no matter how devastating the consequences may be.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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For a colonized people the most essential value, because the most concrete, is first and foremost the land: the land which will bring them bread and, above all, dignity.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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Imperialism leaves behind germs of rot which we must clinically detect and remove from our land but from our minds as well.
Frantz Fanon

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When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe
Frantz Fanon

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What matters is not to know the world but to change it.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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And it is clear that in the colonial countries the peasants alone are revolutionary, for they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The starving peasant, outside the class system is the first among the exploited to discover that only violence pays. For him there is no compromise, no possible coming to terms; colonization and decolonization is simply a question of relative strength.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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Today I believe in the possibility of love; that is why I endeavor to trace its imperfections, its perversions.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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The Negro enslaved by his inferiority, the white man enslaved by his superiority alike behave in accordance with a neurotic orientation.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.
Frantz Fanon

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Two centuries ago, a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe. It succeeded so well that the United States of America became a monster, in which the taints, the sickness and the inhumanity of Europe have grown to appalling dimensions
Frantz Fanon

Tags: america, decadent, u-s
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Violence is man re-creating himself.
Frantz Fanon

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When people like me, they like me “in spite of my color.” When they dislike me; they point out that it isn’t because of my color. Either way, I am locked in to the infernal circle.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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The unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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Mastery of language affords remarkable power.
Frantz Fanon

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They realize at last that change does not mean reform, that change does not mean improvement.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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Negrophobes exist. It is not hatred of the Negro, however, that motivates them; they lack the courage for that, or they have lost it. Hate is not inborn; it has to be constantly cultivated, to be brought into being, in conflict with more or less recognized guilt complexes. Hate demands existence and he who hates has to show his hate in appropriate actions and behavior; in a sense, he has to become hate. That is why Americans have substituted discrimination for lynching. Each to his own side of the street.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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A man who has a language consequently possesses the world expressed and implied by that language.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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Zombies, believe me, are more terrifying than colonists.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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I, the man of color, want only this: That the tool never possess the man. That the enslavement of man by man cease forever. That is, of one by another. That it be possible for me to discover and to love man, wherever he may be.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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The claim to a national culture in the past does not only rehabilitate that nation and serve as a justification for the hope of a future national culture. In the sphere of psycho-affective equilibrium it is responsible for an important change in the native. Perhaps we haven’t sufficiently demonstrated that colonialism is not satisfied merely with holding a people in its grip and emptying the native’s brain of all form and content. By a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures, and destroys it. This work of devaluing pre-colonial history takes on a dialectical significance today.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Tags: afrocentricism, cultural-imperialism, history, neo-colonization, négritude
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When a bachelor of philosophy from the Antilles refuses to apply for certification as a teacher on the grounds of his color I say that philosophy has never saved anyone. When someone else strives and strains to prove to me that black men are as intelligent as white men I say that intelligence has never saved anyone: and that is true, for, if philosophy and intelligence are invoked to proclaim the equality of men, they have also been employed to justify the extermination of men.
Frantz Fanon

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The colonized is elevated above his jungle status in proportion to his adoption of the mother country’s cultural standards.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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Colinialism hardly ever exploits the whole of a country. It contents itself with bringing to light the natrual resources, which it extracts, and exports to meet the needs of the mother country’s industries, thereby allowing certain sectors of the colony to become relatively rich. But the rest of the colony follows its path of under-development and poverty, or at all events sinks into it more deeply.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Tags: colonialism, history, post-colonial-theory
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When someone strives & strains to prove to me that black men are as intelligent as white men, I say that intelligence has never saved anyone; and that is true, for, if philosophy and intelligence are invoked to proclaim the equality of men, they have also been employed to justify the extermination of men.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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The settler makes history and is conscious of making it. And because he constantly refers to the history of his mother country, he clearly indicates that he himself is the extension of that mother-country. Thus the history which he writes is not the history of the country which he plunders but the history of his own nation in regard to all that she skims off, all that she violates and starves.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Tags: colonialism
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To speak pidgin to a Negro makes him angry, because he himself is a pidgin-nigger-talker. But, I will be told, there is no wish, no intention to anger him. I grant this; but it is just this absence of wish, this lack of interest, this indifference, this automatic manner of classifying him, imprisoning him, primitivizing him, decivilizing him, that makes him angry.

If a man who speaks pidgin to a man of color or an Arab does not see anything wrong or evil in such behavior, it is because he has never stopped to think.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

Tags: colonialism, identity, race
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Oh my body, make of me a man who always questions!
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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To educate the masses politically does not mean, cannot mean, making a political speech. What it means is to try, relentlessly and passionately, to teach the masses that everything depends on them; that if we stagnate it is their responsibility, and that if we go forward it is due to them too, that there is no such thing as a demiurge, that there is no famous man who will take the responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people themselves and the magic hands are finally only the hands of the people.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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Taking the continent as a whole, this religious tension may be responsible for the revival of the commonest racial feeling. Africa is divided into Black and White, and the names that are substituted- Africa south of the Sahara, Africa north of the Sahara- do not manage to hide this latent racism. Here, it is affirmed that White Africa has a thousand-year-old tradition of culture; that she is Mediterranean, that she is a continuation of Europe and that she shares in Graeco-Latin civilization. Black Africa is looked on as a region that is inert, brutal, uncivilized – in a word, savage.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Tags: africa, history, postcolonialism, racism
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Introducing someone as a “Negro poet with a University degree” or again, quite simply, the expression, “a great black poet.” These ready-made phrases, which seem in a common-sense way to fill a need-or have a hidden subtlety, a permanent rub.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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[Educated blacks] Society refuses to consider them genuine Negroes. The Negro is a savage, whereas the student is civilized. “You’re us,” and if anyone thinks you are a Negro he is mistaken, because you merely look like one.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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At first glance it seems strange that the attitude of the anti-Semite can be equated with that of the negrophobe. It was my philosophy teacher from the Antilles who reminded me one day: “When you hear someone insulting the Jews pay attention; he is talking about you.” And I believed at the time he was universally right, meaning that I was responsible in my body and my soul for the fate reserved for my brother. Since then, I have understood that what he meant quite simply was the anti-Semite is inevitably a negrophobe.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

Tags: antisemitism, oppression, racism
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To speak…means above all to assume a culture, to support the weight of a civilization.
Frantz Fanon

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A government or a party gets the people it deserves and sooner or later a people gets the government it deserves.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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One avoids Creolisms. Some families completely forbid Creole and mothers ridicule their children for speaking it.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

Tags: africa, fanon, freedom, negritude, onwuegbute
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I speak of the Christian religion, and no one need be astonished. The Church in the colonies is the white people’s Church, the foreigner’s Church. She does not call the native to God’s ways but to the ways of the white man, of the master, of the oppressor. And as we know, in this matter many are called but few chosen.
Frantz Fanon, Concerning Violence

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Get used to me, I am not getting used to anyone.” I shouted my laughter to the
stars.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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We believe that an individual must endeavor to assume the universalism inherent in the human condition.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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The missionaries find it opportune to remind the masses that long before the advent of European colonialism the great African empires were disrupted by the Arab invasion. There is no hesitation in saying that it was the Arab occupation which paved the way for European colonialism; Arab imperialism commonly spoken of, and the cultural imperialism of Islam is condemned.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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As I begin to recognise that the Negro is the symbol of sin, I catch myself hating the Negro. But then I recognise that I am a Negro. There are two ways out of this conflict. Either I ask others to pay no attention to my skin, or else I want them to be aware of it. I try then to find value for what is bad–since I have unthinkingly conceded that the black man is the colour of evil. In order to terminate this neurotic situation, in which I am compelled to choose an unhealthy, conflictual solution, fed on fantasies, hostile, inhuman in short, I have only one solution: to rise above this absurd drama that others have staged around me, to reject the two terms that are equally unacceptable, and through one human being, to reach out for the universal.
When the Negro dives–in other words, goes under–something remarkable occurs.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

Tags: internalised-racism, racism, solutions
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The native must realize that colonialism never gives anything away for nothing.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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Superiority? Inferiority?
Why not simply try to touch the other, feel the other, discover each other?
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for a variety of reasons, we can no longer breathe
Frantz Fanon

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Two centuries ago, a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe. It succeeded so well that the United States of America became a monster, in which the taints, the sickness, and the inhumanity of Europe have grown to appalling dimensions.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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Once their rage explodes, they recover their lost coherence, they experience self-knowledge through reconstruction of themselves; from afar we see their war as the triumph of barbarity; but it proceeds on its own to gradually emancipate the fighter and progressively eliminates the colonial darkness inside and out. As soon as it begins it is merciless. Either one must remain terrified or become terrifying—which means surrendering to the dissociations of a fabricated life or conquering the unity of one’s native soil. When the peasants lay hands on a gun, the old myths fade, and one by one the taboos are overturned: a fighter’s weapon is his humanity. For in the first phase of the revolt killing is a necessity: killing a European is killing two birds with one stone, eliminating in one go oppressor and oppressed: leaving one man dead and the other man free;
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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Every race will have disagreements amongst themselves, but we must put aside our differences, and work together for the advancement of that race” Sandra Forsythe
Frantz Fanon

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The unveiled Algerian woman, who assumed an increasingly important place in revolutionary action, developed her personality, discovered the exalting realm of responsibility. The freedom of the Algerian people from then on became identified with woman’s liberation, with her entry into history. This woman who, in the avenues of Algier or of Constantine, would carry the grenades or the submachine-gun chargers, this woman who tomorrow would be outraged, violated, tortured, could not put herself back into her former state of mind and relive her behaviour of the past; this woman who was writing the heroic pages of Algerian history was, in so doing, bursting the bounds of the narrow in which she had lived without responsibility, and was at the same time participating in the destruction of colonialism and in the birth of a new woman.
Frantz Fanon

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ô mon corps, fait toujours de moi un homme qui s’interroge.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

Tags: life-motto
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I feel my soul as vast as the world, truly a soul as deep as the deepest of rivers; my chest has the power to expand to infinity. I was made to give and they prescribe for me the humility of the cripple.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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I want the world to recognize with me the open door of every consciousness
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

Tags: alienation, disalination, humanism, self-realisation
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In the colonial countries, on the contrary, the policeman and the soldier, by their immediate presence and their frequent and direct action maintain contact with the native and advise him by means of rifle butts and napalm not to budge. It is obvious here that the agents of government speak the language of pure force
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Tags: colonialism, government, soldiers, violence
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The militant girl, in adopting new patterns of conduct, could not be judged by traditional standards. Old values, sterile and infantile phobias disappeared.
Frantz Fanon

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إن لجوءك إلى لُغة تكنيكيَّة معناه أنّك قرَّرتَ أن تَعُدَّ الجماهير جاهلة
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Tags: معذبو-الأرض
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In the colonial context the settler only ends his work of breaking in the native when the latter admits loudly and intelligibly the supremacy of the white man’s values.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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The Africans and the underdeveloped peoples, contrary to what is commonly believed, are quick to build a social and political consciousness. The danger is that very often they reach the stage of social consciousness before reaching the national phase. In this case the underdeveloped countries’ violent calls for social justice are combined, paradoxically enough, with an often primitive tribalism. The underdeveloped peoples behave like a starving population—which means that the days of those who treat Africa as their playground are strictly numbered. In other words, their power cannot last forever. A bourgeoisie that has only nationalism to feed the people fails in its mission and inevitably gets tangled up in a series of trials and tribulations. If nationalism is not explained, enriched, and deepened, if it does not very quickly turn into a social and political consciousness, into humanism, then it leads to a dead end. A bourgeois leadership of the underdeveloped countries confines the national consciousness to a sterile formalism. Only the massive commitment by men and women to judicious and productive tasks gives form and substance to this consciousness.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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For the beloved should not allow me to turn my infantile fantasies into reality: On the contrary, he should help me to go beyond them.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

Tags: black-skin-white-masks, frantz-fanon
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Man is human only to the extent to which he tries to impose himself on another man in order to be recognized by him. As long as he has not been effectively recognized by the other, it is this other who remains the focus of his actions. His human worth and reality depend on this other and on his recognition by the other. It is in this other that the meaning of his life is condensed.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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Chaque fois qu’un homme a fait triompher la dignité de l’esprit, chaque fois qu’un homme a dit non à une tentative d’asservissement de son semblable, je me suis senti solidaire de son acte.
Frantz Fanon

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Everything can be explained to the people, on the single condition that you really want them to understand.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

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It is true that if care is taken to use only a language that it’s understood by graduates in law and economics, you can easily prove that the masses have to be managed from above.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Tags: language, power
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The Algerian fidaï, unlike the unbalanced anarchists made famous in literature, does not take dope. The fidaï does not need to be unaware of danger, to befog his consciousness, or to forgot. The “terrorist,” from the moment he undertakes an assignment, allows death to enter into his soul. He has a rendezvous with death.The fidaï, on the other hand, has a rendezvous with the life of the Revolution, and with his own life. The fidaï is not one of the sacrificed. To be sure, he does not shrink before the possibility of losing his life or the independence of his country, but at no moment does he choose death.
Frantz Fanon, A Dying Colonialism

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ليس يكفي أن تُؤلِّف أغنيَّة ثوريَّة حتى تُشارِك في الثَّورة الأفريقيَّة، وإنَّما ينبغي أن تصنع هذه الثَّورة، ثم تأتي الأغاني من تلقاء ذاتها.”
أحمد سيكوتوري
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Tags: معذبو-الأرض
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there is an extraordinary power in the possession of a language.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

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Today everyone on our side knows that criminality is not the result of the Algerian’s congenital nature nor the configuration of his nervous system. The war in Algeria and wars of national liberation bring out the true protagonists. We have demonstrated that in the colonial situation the colonized are confronted with themselves. They tend to use each other as a screen. Each prevents his neighbor from seeing the national enemy. And when exhausted after a sixteen-hour day of hard work the colonized subject collapses on his mat and a child on the other side of the canvas partition cries and prevents him from sleeping, it just so happens it’s a little Algerian. When he goes to beg for a little semolina or a little oil from the shopkeeper to whom he already owes several hundred francs and his request is turned down, he is overwhelmed by an intense hatred and desire to kill—and the shopkeeper happens to be an Algerian. When, after weeks of keeping a low profile, he finds himself cornered one day by the kaid demanding “his taxes,” he is not even allowed the opportunity to direct his hatred against the European administrator; before him stands the kaid who excites his hatred—and he happens to be an Algerian.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Tags: colonialism, national-liberation, psychology, violence
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The business of obscuring language is a mask behind which stands the much greater business of plunder.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Tags: language, power
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The misfortune of man is that he was once a child.
Frantz Fanon

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My final prayer:
O my body, make of me always a man who questions!”
– Frantz Fanon, “Black Skin, White Masks
Frantz Fanon

Tags: frantz-fanon
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It is the white man who creates the Negro. But it is the negro who creates negritude.
Frantz Fanon, A Dying Colonialism

Tags: frantz-fanon
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For me words have a charge. I find myself incapable of escaping the bite of a word, the vertigo of a question-mark.
Frantz Fanon

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I do battle for the creation
of a human world – that ism
a world of reciprocal recognition.
Frantz Fanon

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Red Summer Race Riot of Washington DC July 19 1919 Whites Attacked New Afrikans , New Afrikans Fight Back

An increased desire and urgency of many African Americans for full equality came with their participation in World War I and the great migration of more than one million blacks by 1918 who had left the South for jobs in the North and the West. During this time, Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican activist, introduced an alternative to integration espoused by the NAACP. On August 1, 1914, Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association, a separatist movement that attracted a lower social and economic level of blacks than the NAACP and “promoted black social and moral independence within white society.” Garvey exalted race pride and “everything black.” He received a wide following that “offered the best testimony to the sense of betrayal the war and its aftermath kindled in black communities.”

The importation of a million negroes into the Northern States, to fill the places of white artisans and laborers drafted for the Great War, had its tragic sequel in the race riots which occurred during July and September, 1919, in four cities – Washington, Chicago, Omaha and Elaine, Arkansas. In three of the four cities, except Chicago, Regular Army troops were required to restore order. Overall, black hopes for equality were diminished in the summer of 1919 that marked a new watershed in racial disturbances that “spread like wildfire” across the nation. These riots, resulting in 62 deaths and hundreds of injuries, were in part due to negro assurance, based upon the wide acceptance among the blacks of the doctrine of the social equality of the races as enunciated by negro editors. Other contributing causes were the alleged assaults committed by blacks upon white girls, and the industrial enmities engendered by the transplanting of these blacks on Northern soil, displacing white men not only from positions of lucrative employment, but, dispossessing them of their homes as well.

The riots in Washington, D. C., began on Saturday, July 19, 1919. The riot was the the responsibility of the mob composed of white men – soldiers, sailors and marines – which ran amuck through the streets of the national capital, maiming, injuring and killing innocent Colored citizens, the alleged provocation being a succession of assaults committed by negroes on white women. Bands of soldiers, sailors, marines and civilians made their way to the Center Market district in the heart of the city, dragging many negroes from street cars and automobiles and assaulting them. The Police Reserves were called out, but could not quell the rioting, which by nightfall had spread to other parts of the city. A score of badly injured negroes by this time had been removed to the Emergency Hospital.

According to one contemporary account “The newspapers in other sections of the country (some of them) have attempted to justify these riots on the ground that Negroes in Washington attempted to rape white women. A more vicious and cowardly libel on the Negroes of Washington was never uttered. The Negroes of Washington, D.C., have for more than a hundred years maintained a reputation for law and order, and respect for womanhood unequaled by the Negroes of any other section of the country. That they have now suddenly developed into rapists with a penchant for second or third class white women will not be believed even by the liars who make the charge to divert attention from the real cause of these outbreaks.”

 

 

D.C. Eye Witness Account

Later that Saturday night, a mob of veterans headed toward Southwest D.C. to a predominantly black, poverty-stricken neighborhood with clubs, lead pipes, and pieces of lumber in hand. The veterans brutally beat all African Americans they encountered. African Americans were seized from their cars and from sidewalks and beaten without reason or mercy by white veterans, still in uniform, drawing little to no police attention.

On Sunday, July 20, the violence continued to grow, in part because the seven-hundred-member Metropolitan Police Department failed to intervene. African Americans continued to face brutal beatings in the streets of Washington, at the Center Market on Seventh Street NW, and even in front of the White House.

By the late hours of Sunday night, July 20, the African American community began to fight back. They armed themselves and attacked whites who entered their neighborhoods. Both black and white men fired bullets at each other from moving vehicles. At the end of the night, ten whites and five blacks were either killed or severely wounded.

After four days of violence and no police intervention, President Woodrow Wilson finally ordered nearly two thousand soldiers from nearby military bases into Washington to suppress the rioting. However, a heavy summer rain, rather than the troops themselves, effectively ended the riot on July 23, 1919.

In the end, several men were killed from gunshot wounds; nine were killed in severe street fights; and an estimated thirty or more eventually died from other wounds they received during the riot. Over one hundred and fifty men, women, and children were beaten, clubbed, and shot by both African American and white rioters. Six Metropolitan Policemen and several Marine guards were shot during these riots. Two of those shootings were fatal.

July 19 1820’s – Several armed Maroons captured and hanged Jacksonville, South Carolina ( Maroon Communities in South Carolina ) Gullah Geechee Nation

July 19 1820s – Several armed Maroons captured and hanged Jacksonville, SC.

The history of maroons, or “bands of fugitive slaves living independently from society,” in the West Indies and Latin America has been well documented. Maroon activities and slave uprisings were the most militant form of black resistance to slavery, although historians have paid little attention to the history of maroons in the United States. The historian Herbert Aptheker found evidence that at least fifty such communities existed in the country between 1672 and 1864, especially among the sparsely settled mountain, forest, or swampy regions of South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama. In South Carolina maroon communities were located in areas near rivers, such as the Savannah and the Congaree, and also in lowcountry parishes such as St. John’s, St. James Goose Creek, St. George’s Dorchester, and Christ Church. Maroons settled in the unpopulated backcountry in the eighteenth century after being forced to migrate from Virginia and North Carolina due to European settlement. By the late 1750s and early 1760s the backcountry was populated by newly arrived European planters and native-born maroons of African, Native American, and European descent who created their own distinctive culture.

The typical South Carolina maroon was a young man who had run away alone. Between 1732 and 1752, however, thirty percent ran away in groups rather than individually. The composition of the maroon groups was both African and Creole in nature, although Creole maroons tended to run away more on their own. Twenty-five percent of runaway groups that were advertised in colonial South Carolina newspapers were comprised of Africans who shared some commonalities, such as regional origins or ethnicity. African runaways in South Carolina generally absconded in groups of two or three, although bands of six to eight were also common. Most maroons were men, but women and children were also present in settlements, often escaping with familial groups.

Maroon activities varied by community, but many found it difficult to erect homes, care for families, and work the land without supplies. Maroons often traveled to more populated areas such as Charleston for food, clothing, and other goods. Some bartered with free blacks or plantation slaves, while others stole from their former masters or other whites. More violent occurrences, such as bands of maroons attacking and robbing white travelers or plundering houses and plantations, often provoked bloody reprisals. In June 1711, for example, South Carolina inhabitants were in such “great fear and terror” that the government was compelled to raid a maroon settlement. This cycle was repeated over and over, with maroon threats and planter retaliation occurring at times throughout the colonial period and even during the Revolutionary War.

Haki Kweli Shakur 7-19-52 ADM August Third Collective NAPLA NAIM

 

 

Runaway slave communities in South Carolina
Tim Lockley, University of Warwick

Throughout the Americas maroon communities, formed by runaway slaves, existed wherever slavery itself existed. The large numbers of maroons in the Brazilian jungle, the swamps and forests of Surinam and the mountains of Jamaica created long-lasting settlements that were successfully defended from attacks by whites. The size of the slave population in these territories, and the close proximity of marginal lands that were unsuitable for plantations, combined to make marronage a viable proposition. Runaway slaves needed somewhere to run to, where they could not easily be found or returned to slavery, and swamps, forests and mountains met this requirement perfectly. White soldiers were rarely skilled in guerrilla warfare, and were more likely to succumb to disease themselves than to return from an expedition with large numbers of captured maroons. It was the persistence of the maroons that eventually led many white governments to seek peace treaties rather than continue fruitless military campaigns. Under these treaties maroons were formally accepted as being free and would be left alone, providing that they did not actively recruit more members from the slave plantations and instead returned new runaways to their masters. (1)

It has long been supposed that North America did not have a ‘maroon problem’ comparable to Jamaica, Surinam or Brazil. The slave population became naturalised more quickly in North America than elsewhere in the Americas because it was self-reproducing rather than being dependent on African imports. North America had a slave population that was mainly born into slavery in America long before the ending of their Atlantic slave trade in 1808. Elsewhere in the Americas maroons were disproportionately drawn from African-born slaves. Moreover, the much larger white population in North America meant there were far fewer marginal areas for slaves to flee to, even in the southern colonies/states. While large plantations dominated the coastal areas of Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia, small farmers also lived in these regions, occupying land that in other parts of the Americas might have been left as virgin forest. While North America had no shortage of runaway slaves, they can be divided into two distinct groups. Many runaways only absented themselves for a short period and returned to the plantation when hunger pangs grew too strong, but those who left determined never to return, it has long been supposed, were much more likely to head for certain freedom in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois rather than try to create independent communities in the south, where the threat of re-enslavement was very real.

While all these facts are true, they do not tell the entire story. In the eighteenth century, and indeed into the early nineteenth century, northern states were not the sanctuary that they would become after 1830. The Fugitive Slave Act meant that slaves fleeing to the north were likely to be captured and transported back to the place they had come from. Without a safe haven in the north, runaway slaves consequently sought out other places where they might be safe from pursuit. The Great Dismal Swamp on the border between Virginia and North Carolina acted as a particularly strong magnet for runaway slaves. This otherwise deserted swamp was relatively close to the plantation regions of Virginia and therefore it was comparatively easy for slaves to disappear into its dense forests. William Byrd came across ‘a family of mullatoes’ in the swamp when surveying the border between the two colonies in 1728, commenting ‘It is certain many slaves shelter themselves in this obscure part of the world’. A 1784 visitor noted that

Run-away Negroes have resided in these places for twelve, twenty, or thirty years and upwards, subsisting themselves in the swamp upon corn, hogs, and fowls, that they raised on some of the spots not perpetually under water, nor subject to be flooded, as forty-nine parts of fifty of it are; and on such spots they have erected habitations, and cleared small fields around them; yet these have always been perfectly impenetrable to any of the inhabitants of the country around, even to those nearest to and best acquainted with the swamps.
Consequently, runaways ‘in these horrible swamps are perfectly safe, and with the greatest facility elude the most diligent of their pursuers’. (2)

The number of maroons in the Great Dismal Swamp can only be guessed at, although several historians have suggested that it may have been home to several hundred, maybe even more than a thousand, escaped slaves. Certainly, maroons resided in the swamp throughout the antebellum era. However, the relatively small size of the swamp, about 200-300 square miles, did not afford the same opportunities for the formation of maroon communities as the Amazonian forests of South America, or the mountains of Jamaica. Whites may not have populated the swamp itself, but they surrounded it, and there was little chance for maroons within the swamp to expand the territory under their control. (3)

Elsewhere in the south runaways also formed significant maroon groups in the environs of New Orleans: one group of 50 or 60 maroons raised ‘hogs, poultry, sweet potatoes &c’ in an area known as ‘the Trembling Prairies, not far from the city… this spot has been supposed to be unapproachable on account of quick sands’. (4) Further east along the gulf coast a maroon group secreted themselves in a swamp at the confluence of the Alabama and Tombeckbe rivers, just north of Mobile. Some of the members of this group had ‘been runaway for several years’ and were led by a ‘an extraordinary negro for size and bodily strength’ named Old Hal. Following a battle with local planters in 1827, which led to the death of several maroons, even the newspapers were forced to conceded ‘that old Hal and his men fought like Spartans, not one gave an inch of ground, but stood and was shot dead or wounded, and fell on the spot’. (5)

While marronage existed in all the southern colonies/states to a greater or lesser degree, it reached its greatest extent in South Carolina. South Carolina was unique in North America in having a majority slave population and in some coastal areas 80-90 per cent of people were enslaved. Its slave population was also less acculturated than elsewhere in North America having a higher proportion of African-born slaves, and indeed South Carolina continued to import slaves directly from Africa right up to the closing of the American slave trade in 1808. The geography of South Carolina also encouraged marronage. The tidal rivers used for growing rice were very close to large swamps that were not under cultivation, and once rivers stretched inland beyond the effect of tides then swamps became even more common. These swamps were densely forested with cypress trees, making any attempt to traverse them on horseback difficult, and were home to large numbers of alligators and rattlesnakes that together combined to deter many potential explorers. To the enslaved population of South Carolina, however, these swamps offered a tempting refuge where they could carve out their own lives free from white control.

Maroon communities most likely started small. A handful of slaves perhaps ran away together, or even met by chance in the swamp, and determined to live as a group. South Carolina’s swamps were often inundated with water but there were normally some permanently dry areas, and it was on this land that maroons constructed buildings and planted vegetables and corn. The climate was rarely too cold, and the game and fishing were plentiful for skilled hunters. Once a community was established it did not take long for those remaining in bondage to learn about it, and to augment it by their own flight. For a community to become viable in the longer term it required women as well as men, and several communities contained both sexes and even children. These maroon communities were clearly intended to be permanent settlements, offering an alternative life for enslaved Africans in South Carolina.

With the swamp as protection whites clearly knew little about these communities. Runaway slaves were common enough anyway so it was hard for planters to notice any kind of pattern of flight and as long as the maroons kept themselves to themselves it was possible for them to maintain their communities for many years. Yet no maroon community could survive completely cut off from the outside world. While food could be grown, water was abundant and shelter readily fashioned, maroons could not make metal goods such as knives or pots for catching, killing and cooking game, and there was no way to replenish shot and powder for guns. The more cautious maroons obtained these items by trading with slaves from nearby plantations, but if this was not possible then they simply took what they wanted by force. However, raiding expeditions also raised the visibility of maroons and made it far more likely that they would face a military attack.

There are numerous examples of South Carolina’s provincial government sending out the militia against small maroon groups. As early as 1711 action was taken against ‘several Negroes runaway from their Masters… [who] keep out, arm’d, robbing & plundering houses & Plantations & putting ye Inhabitants of this province in great fear and terrour’. (6) But it was not until the mid 1760s that evidence exists of sizeable maroon groups. In late 1765 the Governor of Georgia wrote to his counterpart in South Carolina about a group of 40 maroons that had existed ‘for some time past’ in the Savannah River swamp on the South Carolina side who ‘have frequently in the Night time come over on this side & killed Cattle and Robbed Several of the plantations on the South Bank of the River’. A party of the militia eventually found the maroons and after a short gun battle came upon their camp, described as ‘a Square consisting of four Houses 17 feet long & 14 wide… the kettles were upon the fire boiling rice & about 15 bushels of rough Rice Blankets Potts Pails Shoes Axes & many other Tools’. (7) This camp was destroyed but most of the maroons escaped into the swamp and regrouped in a different location.

Simultaneously the Governor of South Carolina received information that ‘107 Negroes had left their Plantations… and joined a large number of Runaways in Colleton County’. With the prospect of a full-scale slave rebellion a real possibility the Governor not only ordered out the militia he also brought down nearly 50 Catawba Indians to hunt out the runaways, since ‘Indians strike terrour into the Negroes, and the Indians manner of hunting render them more sagacious in tracking and expert in finding out the hidden recesses, where the Runaways conceal themselves from the usual searches of the English’. While a slave rebellion was averted, the Governor was forced to admit that ‘there are several large Parties of Runaways still concealed in large Swamps’. (8)

The timing of these two events was probably not coincidental. The Stamp Act crisis had erupted in late 1765 and would not be over until mid 1766. The vigorous response among white colonists to the attempt by the British Parliament to raise taxes led to rhetoric that asserted the importance of liberty and autonomy. It is hardly surprising that slaves came to learn of this rhetoric and applied it to their own condition. South Carolina planter/politician Henry Laurens commented in early 1766 ‘that some Negroes had mimick’d their betters in crying out “Liberty” & these latter I do believe were apprehensive of an Odious Load falling upon their Shoulders’. (9)

The ending of the Stamp Act crisis in 1766 removed the language of liberty from popular discourse but it is likely that the large maroon groups near the Savannah River and south of Charleston continued to eek out an existence after the 1760s. There are sporadic references to maroons during the early 1770s and once war came to coastal Georgia and South Carolina in late 1778 then the opportunities for slaves to escape increased dramatically. With loyalist and patriot fortunes ebbing and flowing between 1778 and 1782 plantations were first taken and then restored to owners, and in the interim many slaves took their opportunity to leave. The situation was exacerbated by the decision of British authorities to arm a number of slaves and when they evacuated the low country in late 1782 they left behind a body of armed blacks who were well trained in military tactics and who had no intention of returning to bondage.

By 1786 a maroon group numbering more than 100 resided peacefully on an island in the Savannah River about 20 miles upstream from Savannah. Among them were a number who called themselves ‘the King of England’s soldiers’, having been there since 1782. Initial attempts by the local militia to attack the camp failed and newspaper reports of the incident indicate clearly that the maroons were well versed in military tactics, having posted sentries, and distributed weapons to greatest effect. A second attack led by General James Jackson overran the maroon camp where they found enough rice to fill 25 barrels, ’60 bushels of corn, and 14 or 15 boats’. About four acres of ground had been cleared and planted with rice and, after destroying the crops and ‘a number of their houses and huts’, it was hoped that the maroons would ‘disperse about the country’. (10)

Such hopes did not last long. By March 1787 planters were complaining that their properties were being raided for replacement supplies and new recruits, and some even feared the involvement of ‘our own indoor domestics’. (11) The South Carolina government decided to take firm action and they set aside funding for more than 100 militiamen, despite concerns that ‘at this Season of the year it would be very inconvenient to keep Militia in the field for a length of time sufficient to suppress this Insurrection’. (12) On 21 April 1787 a ‘warm skirmish took place’ with inconclusive results, but in the early hours of 6 May 1787 a more decisive encounter resulted again in the maroons’ camp being overrun. In the six months since the destruction of the old camp, the maroons had built a new one, 700 yards long and 120 yards wide, containing 21 houses and protected by a palisade or ‘breech work about 4 feet high’. Once more ‘cleared land was planted in rice and potatoes’. (13) The number of maroons actually killed was small – no more than 10 – and only a few were captured at the time, but in general there was a great deal of satisfaction that the maroons ‘seated and strongly fortified in the midst of an almost impenetrable swamp’ had been dispersed. (14)

It seems likely that this marked the end of the maroon bands in the Savannah River swamps, but they continued to exist and cause trouble elsewhere. Governor David Williams was forced to take action in 1816 against ‘runaway negroes, concealing themselves in the swamps and marshes contiguous to Combahee and Ashepoo rivers, … [who] formed the nucleus, round which all the ill-disposed and audacious near them gathered, until at length their robberies became too serious to be suffered with impunity’. (15) The most notorious maroon band in South Carolina was led by ‘Forest’ Joe and ranged the entire length of the Santee River from the coast to Columbia. The first complaints of maroon activity date from 1819, but Joe became a major thorn in the side of white planters after the murder of planter George Ford near Georgetown in May 1821. Ford was killed trying to prevent Joe from stealing cattle from his plantation, and while two of his gang were captured shortly afterwards and provided much information about Joe and his whereabouts, the man himself evaded capture. The local press praised ‘the exertions of the militia… day and night occupied in scouring the woods and swamps to the distance of twenty or thirty miles from town, notwithstanding the extreme heat of the weather and the heavy showers to which they have been exposed’, but the ‘most dense and impervious swamps’ in which Joe had secreted himself proved too much. (16) For the next two years Joe continued to raid plantations adjacent to the Santee River Swamp for supplies and recruits, apparently roaming fairly freely over its 150 mile length and easily eluding ‘all attempts to take him’. One local newspaper observed ruefully that ‘this accomplished villain has been pursuing his course of plunder in the most tranquil and uninterrupted manner’. (17)

Events came to a head in the late summer of 1823. On 20 August Joe killed a slave belonging to Colonel Richardson who had ‘been the means of rescuing a negro woman of Dr. Raoul’s whom he [Joe] detained against her will for some months as his wife’. (18) In early October local residents formed the Pineville Police Association ‘to devise a plan for apprehending or dispersing a gang of desperate Runaways’. The heart of this plan was that ‘by secret offers of Reward to certain negroes, their agency and assistance might so far be obtained, as to enable a party judiciously posted to surprise and take them’. (19) Ultimately this plan worked. On 4 October a slave named Royal

conducted a select party… to the camp of the Joe and his followers, and having the command of a boat, being a patroon, he with considerable judgement and address managed to decoy those whom we had long sought towards the boat, where were stationed a party expressly detailed for this duty… [and with] a single well directed fire from the party of whites in the boat Joe with three of his party fell dead. (20)
Joe’s ‘head was cut off and stuck on a pole at the mouth of the creek, as a solemn warning to vicious slaves’ and several of his gang were later captured and hanged. Since it was ‘the policy of this state to reward those slaves who thus distinguish themselves by way of inducement to others to do so likewise’ Royal’s owner was paid $700 by the South Carolina legislature to manumit him. (21)

Perhaps because the chance of freedom in the north held a greater allure than life in the swamp, especially with the growth of radical abolitionism, reports of maroon activity are much less frequent after 1830 than they were before. They did not disappear entirely, however – the Marion Star reported as late as June 1861 that

a party of gentlemen from this place went in search of runaways who were thought to be in a swamp two miles from here. A trail was discovered which, winding about much, conducted the party to a knoll in the swamp on which corn, squashes, and peas were growing and a camp had been burnt. Continuing the search, another patch of corn, etc., was found and a camp from which several negroes fled, leaving two small negro children, each about a year old… The camp seemed well provided with meal, cooking utensils, blankets, etc. The party returned, having taken the two children, twelve guns and one axe… (22)
Although it reached a zenith between 1760 and 1830 marronage in South Carolina was evidently something that endured for as long as slavery itself existed. Maroons were able in practice to exert control over large areas of land that were effectively beyond white control. In this manner maroons in South Carolina were able to gain a degree of autonomy and independence from slavery while never leaving the south. Some black children were born in the swamps and grew up never having known the terrors of slavery or the wrath of masters. The persistence of marronage in South Carolina significantly complicates our understanding of colonial and antebellum slave systems in North America.

 

After the war, many maroons who had fought alongside the British in hopes of gaining their freedom were attacked and defeated by state militia. In October 1786 a party of white militiamen clashed with a large maroon community living on an island in the Savannah River, many of whom had served with the British during the war and who called themselves “the King of England’s Soldiers.” The attack resulted in the death and injury of many maroons and the abandonment of the settlement. If caught, maroon leaders were frequently beheaded, and those who escaped fled even further into the interior. Maroons continued to exist, however, and to fight for their freedom. Incidents such as those in Ashepoo in 1816, Williamsburg County in 1819, Georgetown in 1820, and Jacksonborough in 1822 all produced the same results. Maroons and militiaman fought, with the latter winning each time. Even so, maroons continued to exist. These activities continued even during the Civil War, when a maroon community attacked near Marion in June 1861 demonstrated the existence of maroons up until emancipation. Written by Catherine Fitzgerald

Runaway slave communities in South Carolina
Tim Lockley, University of Warwick

Throughout the Americas maroon communities, formed by runaway slaves, existed wherever slavery itself existed. The large numbers of maroons in the Brazilian jungle, the swamps and forests of Surinam and the mountains of Jamaica created long-lasting settlements that were successfully defended from attacks by whites. The size of the slave population in these territories, and the close proximity of marginal lands that were unsuitable for plantations, combined to make marronage a viable proposition. Runaway slaves needed somewhere to run to, where they could not easily be found or returned to slavery, and swamps, forests and mountains met this requirement perfectly. White soldiers were rarely skilled in guerrilla warfare, and were more likely to succumb to disease themselves than to return from an expedition with large numbers of captured maroons. It was the persistence of the maroons that eventually led many white governments to seek peace treaties rather than continue fruitless military campaigns. Under these treaties maroons were formally accepted as being free and would be left alone, providing that they did not actively recruit more members from the slave plantations and instead returned new runaways to their masters. (1)

It has long been supposed that North America did not have a ‘maroon problem’ comparable to Jamaica, Surinam or Brazil. The slave population became naturalised more quickly in North America than elsewhere in the Americas because it was self-reproducing rather than being dependent on African imports. North America had a slave population that was mainly born into slavery in America long before the ending of their Atlantic slave trade in 1808. Elsewhere in the Americas maroons were disproportionately drawn from African-born slaves. Moreover, the much larger white population in North America meant there were far fewer marginal areas for slaves to flee to, even in the southern colonies/states. While large plantations dominated the coastal areas of Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia, small farmers also lived in these regions, occupying land that in other parts of the Americas might have been left as virgin forest. While North America had no shortage of runaway slaves, they can be divided into two distinct groups. Many runaways only absented themselves for a short period and returned to the plantation when hunger pangs grew too strong, but those who left determined never to return, it has long been supposed, were much more likely to head for certain freedom in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois rather than try to create independent communities in the south, where the threat of re-enslavement was very real.

While all these facts are true, they do not tell the entire story. In the eighteenth century, and indeed into the early nineteenth century, northern states were not the sanctuary that they would become after 1830. The Fugitive Slave Act meant that slaves fleeing to the north were likely to be captured and transported back to the place they had come from. Without a safe haven in the north, runaway slaves consequently sought out other places where they might be safe from pursuit. The Great Dismal Swamp on the border between Virginia and North Carolina acted as a particularly strong magnet for runaway slaves. This otherwise deserted swamp was relatively close to the plantation regions of Virginia and therefore it was comparatively easy for slaves to disappear into its dense forests. William Byrd came across ‘a family of mullatoes’ in the swamp when surveying the border between the two colonies in 1728, commenting ‘It is certain many slaves shelter themselves in this obscure part of the world’. A 1784 visitor noted that

Run-away Negroes have resided in these places for twelve, twenty, or thirty years and upwards, subsisting themselves in the swamp upon corn, hogs, and fowls, that they raised on some of the spots not perpetually under water, nor subject to be flooded, as forty-nine parts of fifty of it are; and on such spots they have erected habitations, and cleared small fields around them; yet these have always been perfectly impenetrable to any of the inhabitants of the country around, even to those nearest to and best acquainted with the swamps.
Consequently, runaways ‘in these horrible swamps are perfectly safe, and with the greatest facility elude the most diligent of their pursuers’. (2)

The number of maroons in the Great Dismal Swamp can only be guessed at, although several historians have suggested that it may have been home to several hundred, maybe even more than a thousand, escaped slaves. Certainly, maroons resided in the swamp throughout the antebellum era. However, the relatively small size of the swamp, about 200-300 square miles, did not afford the same opportunities for the formation of maroon communities as the Amazonian forests of South America, or the mountains of Jamaica. Whites may not have populated the swamp itself, but they surrounded it, and there was little chance for maroons within the swamp to expand the territory under their control. (3)

Elsewhere in the south runaways also formed significant maroon groups in the environs of New Orleans: one group of 50 or 60 maroons raised ‘hogs, poultry, sweet potatoes &c’ in an area known as ‘the Trembling Prairies, not far from the city… this spot has been supposed to be unapproachable on account of quick sands’. (4) Further east along the gulf coast a maroon group secreted themselves in a swamp at the confluence of the Alabama and Tombeckbe rivers, just north of Mobile. Some of the members of this group had ‘been runaway for several years’ and were led by a ‘an extraordinary negro for size and bodily strength’ named Old Hal. Following a battle with local planters in 1827, which led to the death of several maroons, even the newspapers were forced to conceded ‘that old Hal and his men fought like Spartans, not one gave an inch of ground, but stood and was shot dead or wounded, and fell on the spot’. (5)

While marronage existed in all the southern colonies/states to a greater or lesser degree, it reached its greatest extent in South Carolina. South Carolina was unique in North America in having a majority slave population and in some coastal areas 80-90 per cent of people were enslaved. Its slave population was also less acculturated than elsewhere in North America having a higher proportion of African-born slaves, and indeed South Carolina continued to import slaves directly from Africa right up to the closing of the American slave trade in 1808. The geography of South Carolina also encouraged marronage. The tidal rivers used for growing rice were very close to large swamps that were not under cultivation, and once rivers stretched inland beyond the effect of tides then swamps became even more common. These swamps were densely forested with cypress trees, making any attempt to traverse them on horseback difficult, and were home to large numbers of alligators and rattlesnakes that together combined to deter many potential explorers. To the enslaved population of South Carolina, however, these swamps offered a tempting refuge where they could carve out their own lives free from white control.

Maroon communities most likely started small. A handful of slaves perhaps ran away together, or even met by chance in the swamp, and determined to live as a group. South Carolina’s swamps were often inundated with water but there were normally some permanently dry areas, and it was on this land that maroons constructed buildings and planted vegetables and corn. The climate was rarely too cold, and the game and fishing were plentiful for skilled hunters. Once a community was established it did not take long for those remaining in bondage to learn about it, and to augment it by their own flight. For a community to become viable in the longer term it required women as well as men, and several communities contained both sexes and even children. These maroon communities were clearly intended to be permanent settlements, offering an alternative life for enslaved Africans in South Carolina.

With the swamp as protection whites clearly knew little about these communities. Runaway slaves were common enough anyway so it was hard for planters to notice any kind of pattern of flight and as long as the maroons kept themselves to themselves it was possible for them to maintain their communities for many years. Yet no maroon community could survive completely cut off from the outside world. While food could be grown, water was abundant and shelter readily fashioned, maroons could not make metal goods such as knives or pots for catching, killing and cooking game, and there was no way to replenish shot and powder for guns. The more cautious maroons obtained these items by trading with slaves from nearby plantations, but if this was not possible then they simply took what they wanted by force. However, raiding expeditions also raised the visibility of maroons and made it far more likely that they would face a military attack.

There are numerous examples of South Carolina’s provincial government sending out the militia against small maroon groups. As early as 1711 action was taken against ‘several Negroes runaway from their Masters… [who] keep out, arm’d, robbing & plundering houses & Plantations & putting ye Inhabitants of this province in great fear and terrour’. (6) But it was not until the mid 1760s that evidence exists of sizeable maroon groups. In late 1765 the Governor of Georgia wrote to his counterpart in South Carolina about a group of 40 maroons that had existed ‘for some time past’ in the Savannah River swamp on the South Carolina side who ‘have frequently in the Night time come over on this side & killed Cattle and Robbed Several of the plantations on the South Bank of the River’. A party of the militia eventually found the maroons and after a short gun battle came upon their camp, described as ‘a Square consisting of four Houses 17 feet long & 14 wide… the kettles were upon the fire boiling rice & about 15 bushels of rough Rice Blankets Potts Pails Shoes Axes & many other Tools’. (7) This camp was destroyed but most of the maroons escaped into the swamp and regrouped in a different location.

Simultaneously the Governor of South Carolina received information that ‘107 Negroes had left their Plantations… and joined a large number of Runaways in Colleton County’. With the prospect of a full-scale slave rebellion a real possibility the Governor not only ordered out the militia he also brought down nearly 50 Catawba Indians to hunt out the runaways, since ‘Indians strike terrour into the Negroes, and the Indians manner of hunting render them more sagacious in tracking and expert in finding out the hidden recesses, where the Runaways conceal themselves from the usual searches of the English’. While a slave rebellion was averted, the Governor was forced to admit that ‘there are several large Parties of Runaways still concealed in large Swamps’. (8)

The timing of these two events was probably not coincidental. The Stamp Act crisis had erupted in late 1765 and would not be over until mid 1766. The vigorous response among white colonists to the attempt by the British Parliament to raise taxes led to rhetoric that asserted the importance of liberty and autonomy. It is hardly surprising that slaves came to learn of this rhetoric and applied it to their own condition. South Carolina planter/politician Henry Laurens commented in early 1766 ‘that some Negroes had mimick’d their betters in crying out “Liberty” & these latter I do believe were apprehensive of an Odious Load falling upon their Shoulders’. (9)

The ending of the Stamp Act crisis in 1766 removed the language of liberty from popular discourse but it is likely that the large maroon groups near the Savannah River and south of Charleston continued to eek out an existence after the 1760s. There are sporadic references to maroons during the early 1770s and once war came to coastal Georgia and South Carolina in late 1778 then the opportunities for slaves to escape increased dramatically. With loyalist and patriot fortunes ebbing and flowing between 1778 and 1782 plantations were first taken and then restored to owners, and in the interim many slaves took their opportunity to leave. The situation was exacerbated by the decision of British authorities to arm a number of slaves and when they evacuated the low country in late 1782 they left behind a body of armed blacks who were well trained in military tactics and who had no intention of returning to bondage.

By 1786 a maroon group numbering more than 100 resided peacefully on an island in the Savannah River about 20 miles upstream from Savannah. Among them were a number who called themselves ‘the King of England’s soldiers’, having been there since 1782. Initial attempts by the local militia to attack the camp failed and newspaper reports of the incident indicate clearly that the maroons were well versed in military tactics, having posted sentries, and distributed weapons to greatest effect. A second attack led by General James Jackson overran the maroon camp where they found enough rice to fill 25 barrels, ’60 bushels of corn, and 14 or 15 boats’. About four acres of ground had been cleared and planted with rice and, after destroying the crops and ‘a number of their houses and huts’, it was hoped that the maroons would ‘disperse about the country’. (10)

Such hopes did not last long. By March 1787 planters were complaining that their properties were being raided for replacement supplies and new recruits, and some even feared the involvement of ‘our own indoor domestics’. (11) The South Carolina government decided to take firm action and they set aside funding for more than 100 militiamen, despite concerns that ‘at this Season of the year it would be very inconvenient to keep Militia in the field for a length of time sufficient to suppress this Insurrection’. (12) On 21 April 1787 a ‘warm skirmish took place’ with inconclusive results, but in the early hours of 6 May 1787 a more decisive encounter resulted again in the maroons’ camp being overrun. In the six months since the destruction of the old camp, the maroons had built a new one, 700 yards long and 120 yards wide, containing 21 houses and protected by a palisade or ‘breech work about 4 feet high’. Once more ‘cleared land was planted in rice and potatoes’. (13) The number of maroons actually killed was small – no more than 10 – and only a few were captured at the time, but in general there was a great deal of satisfaction that the maroons ‘seated and strongly fortified in the midst of an almost impenetrable swamp’ had been dispersed. (14)

It seems likely that this marked the end of the maroon bands in the Savannah River swamps, but they continued to exist and cause trouble elsewhere. Governor David Williams was forced to take action in 1816 against ‘runaway negroes, concealing themselves in the swamps and marshes contiguous to Combahee and Ashepoo rivers, … [who] formed the nucleus, round which all the ill-disposed and audacious near them gathered, until at length their robberies became too serious to be suffered with impunity’. (15) The most notorious maroon band in South Carolina was led by ‘Forest’ Joe and ranged the entire length of the Santee River from the coast to Columbia. The first complaints of maroon activity date from 1819, but Joe became a major thorn in the side of white planters after the murder of planter George Ford near Georgetown in May 1821. Ford was killed trying to prevent Joe from stealing cattle from his plantation, and while two of his gang were captured shortly afterwards and provided much information about Joe and his whereabouts, the man himself evaded capture. The local press praised ‘the exertions of the militia… day and night occupied in scouring the woods and swamps to the distance of twenty or thirty miles from town, notwithstanding the extreme heat of the weather and the heavy showers to which they have been exposed’, but the ‘most dense and impervious swamps’ in which Joe had secreted himself proved too much. (16) For the next two years Joe continued to raid plantations adjacent to the Santee River Swamp for supplies and recruits, apparently roaming fairly freely over its 150 mile length and easily eluding ‘all attempts to take him’. One local newspaper observed ruefully that ‘this accomplished villain has been pursuing his course of plunder in the most tranquil and uninterrupted manner’. (17)

Events came to a head in the late summer of 1823. On 20 August Joe killed a slave belonging to Colonel Richardson who had ‘been the means of rescuing a negro woman of Dr. Raoul’s whom he [Joe] detained against her will for some months as his wife’. (18) In early October local residents formed the Pineville Police Association ‘to devise a plan for apprehending or dispersing a gang of desperate Runaways’. The heart of this plan was that ‘by secret offers of Reward to certain negroes, their agency and assistance might so far be obtained, as to enable a party judiciously posted to surprise and take them’. (19) Ultimately this plan worked. On 4 October a slave named Royal

conducted a select party… to the camp of the Joe and his followers, and having the command of a boat, being a patroon, he with considerable judgement and address managed to decoy those whom we had long sought towards the boat, where were stationed a party expressly detailed for this duty… [and with] a single well directed fire from the party of whites in the boat Joe with three of his party fell dead. (20)
Joe’s ‘head was cut off and stuck on a pole at the mouth of the creek, as a solemn warning to vicious slaves’ and several of his gang were later captured and hanged. Since it was ‘the policy of this state to reward those slaves who thus distinguish themselves by way of inducement to others to do so likewise’ Royal’s owner was paid $700 by the South Carolina legislature to manumit him. (21)

Perhaps because the chance of freedom in the north held a greater allure than life in the swamp, especially with the growth of radical abolitionism, reports of maroon activity are much less frequent after 1830 than they were before. They did not disappear entirely, however – the Marion Star reported as late as June 1861 that

a party of gentlemen from this place went in search of runaways who were thought to be in a swamp two miles from here. A trail was discovered which, winding about much, conducted the party to a knoll in the swamp on which corn, squashes, and peas were growing and a camp had been burnt. Continuing the search, another patch of corn, etc., was found and a camp from which several negroes fled, leaving two small negro children, each about a year old… The camp seemed well provided with meal, cooking utensils, blankets, etc. The party returned, having taken the two children, twelve guns and one axe… (22)
Although it reached a zenith between 1760 and 1830 marronage in South Carolina was evidently something that endured for as long as slavery itself existed. Maroons were able in practice to exert control over large areas of land that were effectively beyond white control. In this manner maroons in South Carolina were able to gain a degree of autonomy and independence from slavery while never leaving the south. Some black children were born in the swamps and grew up never having known the terrors of slavery or the wrath of masters. The persistence of marronage in South Carolina significantly complicates our understanding of colonial and antebellum slave systems in North America.

Mound Bayou Founded July 12 1887 By Former Slaves , This was Revolutionary for That Time , Mississippi Delta Colony , The Struggle is For Land

July 12 1887 First Mississippi New Afrikan/Black Settlement & Town Mound Bayou in Mississippi was Born!!!

Isaiah Montgomery, 1847-1924. Co-Founder Mound Bayou, Mississippi July 12, 1887:Two former slaves, Isaiah Montgomery, 40, and his cousin, Benjamin Green, 33, have finally realized a dream they have had since childhood – to establish Mississippi’s first all black town complete with social, economic and political freedom.

part of their childhood dreams as young slaves became a reality. They founded their all-Negro community of Mound Bayou, some 10 miles north of here.

Both Montgomery and Green fervently believe true black freedom can be realized only in a segregated, all-black environment. The men contend that only under such racially supportive conditions can former slaves realize opportunities for individual advancement living alongside the white Southern society.

Ironically, Isaiah Montgomery is an ex-slave of the Confederate President Jefferson Davis family. Montgomery grew up on the Davis’ Hurricane Plantation at Davis Bend, 20 miles south of Vicksburg.

Isaiah Montgomery early education that ideas formed in his mind for a Mound Bayou-type settlement, or as he says, we want “to develop (a community) unencumbered by (racial) handicaps imposed on us by the dying traditions of the past.”

Montgomery and Green bought 840 acres of land from the Louisville-New Orleans & Texas Railroad for $7 an acre. That acreage would serve as the site of Mound Bayou.

This is certainly not the most hospitable land in the state. Only about 75 acres is immediately available for cultivation. The rest of the land is covered with dense brush and trees that can be traversed only with a hatchet or a machete. But the underbrush could be considered a minor problem compared to the bears, panthers and snakes that freely roam the area and, of course, there is the ever-present threat of swamp fever.

Both Montgomery and Green want Mound Bayou to be a sanctuary for black families and black culture for blacks everywhere.

Haki Kweli shakur The Struggle is for Land PT II

 

 

Ex Slaves Get Their Colony and Land

Real Picture of Original Black Settlers of Mound Bayou Mississippi(Black Town/City) tearing into the land while others watch for wild animals this is self determination to be independent(Independence)
The fall of 1887 marked the arrival of the first group of settlers. Leaving their families behind, this sturdy group of men faced the typically difficult obstacles of forging a frontier community. Less than 75 acres were available for cultivation, land The rest was covered by a thick coating of trees and undergrowth, through which the only means of moving was by hatchet or machete. The forests were filled with wild animals, and there was the ever-present fear of swamp fever, to which some settlers succumbed. Nevertheless, this small band of Black men, many of whom had struggled with the Montgomerys and the rest of the men fell to their knees and prayed for guidance in their momentous undertaking. Montgomery then turned to the men and exclaimed:

” Why stagger at the difficulties that confront you; have you not for centuries braved the miasma and hewn down forests like these at the behest of a master? Can you not do it for yourselves and your children unto successive generations that they may worship and develop under their own vine and fig tree? ”

For several years the settlers just barely got by, the major means of subsistence being the sale of excess timber to the railroad for cross ties and staves. Some settlers sharecropped; others sent their wives and children to work as domestics or pick cotton for white planters, thereby “keeping the wolf from the door.” It was not a comfortable existence, and some of the settlers didn’t last. In fact, at the end of five years, many of the settlers including Montgomery were largely in debt to the railroad. However, Montgomery induced the railroad to renew the contracts whenever necessary, and if a man failed, another was put in his place. Simon Gaiter, one of the original settlers, offered this summary of life in these frontier days:

When I started to Mound Bayou, I had $175 in total cash assets, and after purchases of land and provisions, I had left only ten dollars. I planted a garden, set my wife and children about to clear up land at $4 per acre, while I myself went into the woods and engaged in getting out stave boards. In the fall most of the women and children of the neighborhood went to Shelby and picked cotton. In 1889 I picked cotton for the Messrs. Blanchard Bros., white planters, and I rolled logs at night, and made staves in the day!

Chief Gullah Jack Executed July 12 1822 , Denmark Vesey’s Comrad, Gullah Jack The Keeper of Afrikan Spirituality in America

Tip that Wata over for #Angolan Gullah Jack (died July 12, 1822), also known as Couter Jack and sometimes referred to as “Gullah” Jack Pritchard, was a African conjurer, and a slave to Paul Pritchard in Charleston, South Carolina.Gullah Jack was a “conjurer” who kept alive African religious traditions, while other leaders were deacons in the black church. Undoubtedly these slaves had through their work gained a great sense of independence and more education than most common laborers.

He was Co-Conspirator/Leader in Denmark Vesey Slave Rebellion Conspiracy , The African background of many of the participants and leaders forms another significant feature of the Vesey Plot, Moreover, several of the leaders, including Monday Gell, and Ebo, Gullah Jack, an Angolan, and Mingo Harth, a Mandingo, hailed from Africa, while Vesey himself had allegedly been born there.

Haki Kweli Shakur Speaks Voodoo/Vodoun & Afrikan Spiritual Systems of Resistance on the K.Kinte Show Rip gullah Jack

 

 

 

Gullah Jack Keeper of Afrikan Spirituality / Obeah Priesthood

Gullah Jack aka Obeah Priest & Freedom Fighter Up until the day Denmark Vesey was hanged attempted to Free Denmark Vesey , He tried to ignite the Districts Angolan & Igbo Slaves through spiritual rituals to arm themselves to attempt the desperate rescue of Denmark Vesey to continue the mission Using his Africa-based influences, Gullah Jack was crucial in recruiting African-born slaves as soldiers and provided them with charms as protection against the “buckra” (whites). He is also said to have used his spiritual powers to terrify others into keeping silent about the conspiracy. Historians believe Jack’s strong African culture, contrasted against Vesey’s preaching, helped attract many of the slaves that joined the revolt. Eventually, the Vesey plot was leaked by other slaves that were coerced to confession. Gullah Jack was arrested for his part in the plot on July 5, 1822 and was tried for his role in the planning, along with 130 others. Ultimately ,South Carolina authorities hanged Vesey, Gullah Jack, and 34 other leading conspirators.

#GullahJack
#indigeousSpiritualScience
#ancientafricanspirituality
#DenMarkVeseySlaveRebellion
#stiffresistanceendedslavery
#GullahWars

General Gabriel Prosser Born July 12 1776 New Afrikan Freedom Fighter

Gabriel Prosser was a black man born into slavery on a plantation in July 12th, 1776 in Henrico County, Virginia. He specialized as a blacksmith, usually spending his time making tools and other equipment used for farming. Unlike most other slaves back then, Gabriel Prosser was a literate man and was capable of reading and writing at a basic level since he was educated at a young age while training for his profession as a blacksmith. This also helped him have more access (compared to other slaves) to freedom. His two brothers Solomon and Martin and his wife, Nanny lived with him on the plantation. (Fortunately he wasn’t separated from family so much). Gabriel Prosser was motivated to rebel for freedom after hearing about the Haitian Revolt.

In late August 1800, a 25 year-old, 6 foot 2 black slave started a revolt in Richmond, the Southern region of Virginia. With the help of fellow slaves such as Jack Bowler, George Smith and a few others, Gabriel Prosser starting planning a rebellion. Their scheme was to go around from area to area around Richmond and kill all the whites except Quakers, Methodists, Frenchmen and the poor. Meanwhile, they would gather more black slaves to participate along the way. Prosser excluded these whites (Quakers, Methodists, Frenchmen and the poor) because he believed that they were people who could help him on the way to to liberty. After slaying all the whites, Prosser and other slaves hoped to establish a new kingdom (with Gabriel Prosser as king) where slavery would be abolished. The attack was supposed to be carried out on the night of August 30th, but on that day, a few slaves that didn’t want their masters killed revealed the plan to the whites. After hearing this, the people in the rebellion were disbanded and tried to run away. The whites prepared a militia to catch all the slaves and stop the rebellion in advance. Many blacks that contributed to the planning of this revolt were caught and executed, including Gabriel Prosser. The slave codes were also made stricter to prevent these happenings in advance. Although this insurrection was not entirely successful, this was a very notable one in American history because it was one of the first ones ever, and because it showed some possibility that the slaves could fight back.

The Mechanics Savings Bank Third Black Bank to Open ( Jackson Ward Black Wall Street) 1909-1922

The Mechanics Savings Bank was the third bank chartered by black businessmen in Richmond, Virginia. Founded in 1902 by John Mitchell, Jr., a journalist and newspaper owner, the bank opened at another location before moving in 1910 to a new building at the corner of East Clay and 3rd Streets. The bank went out of business in 1922. In 1902 Mitchell opened the Mechanics’ Savings Bank in Richmond. Its deposits hit an all-time high of over half a million dollars in 1919. Three years after that, the bank failed.

The Southern Aid Insurance Company purchased the building in 1930, and later added a west and north wing. Founded in 1893, it was the oldest black-owned insurance company until it and the building were bought by the Atlanta Life Insurance Company in the 1980s.

Today the building is home to numerous businesses.

Haki Kweli Shakur 7-11-52ADM ATC-NAPLA NAIM

July 8th 1860 Last Ship of Captive Afrikans From Benin Bante Region Called The Clotilde Docks in Alabama , These Africans Would Build Their Own Town Called Africa Town , Alabama

African Captives From Benin Bante Region

He was born as Kossola around 1840 in West Africa. (American listeners would later transcribe his given name as “Kazoola.”) Analyzing names and the other words attributed to the Africatown founders, historian Sylviane Diouf has concluded that he and many other members of the community belonged to the Yoruba ethnic group (although the term would not have been used at that time), and lived in the Banté region of what is now Benin. His father was named Oluwale (or Oluale) and his mother Fondlolu; he had five full siblings and twelve half-siblings, the children of his father’s other two wives.[4] Interviewers Roche and Hurston, and those who used their work, referred to Lewis and his fellow-captives as “Tarkars.” Diouf believes that the term “Tarkar” might have come from a misunderstanding of the name of a local king, or the name of a town.

During April or May 1860, Lewis was taken prisoner by the army of the Kingdom of Dahomey as part of its annual dry-season raids for slaves. Along with other captives, he was taken to the slaving port of Ouidah and sold to Captain William Foster of the Clotilde, a ship based in Mobile, Alabama, and owned by businessman Timothy Meaher. Although importation of enslaved persons into the United States had been illegal since 1808, Meaher may have believed that he could flout the law without consequences. In a similar situation, the owners of the Wanderer, which had illegally brought a cargo of enslaved people to Georgia in 1858, were indicted and tried for piracy in the federal court in Savannah in May 1860 but acquitted in a jury trial. By the time the Clotilde reached the Mississippi coast in July 1860, government officials had been alerted to its activities and Timothy Meaher, his brother Burns, and their associate John Dabney were charged with illegal possession of the captives. However, there was a gap of almost five months between the end of July 1860, when summonses and writs of seizure were issued against the Meahers and Dabney, and mid-December when they received them. During the intervening period the captives were dispersed and hidden, and without their physical presence as evidence the case was dismissed in January 1861.

Until the end of the Civil War (1861-65), Lewis and his fellows lived as de facto slaves of Meaher, his brothers, or their associates. Lewis was purchased by James Meaher, for whom he worked as a deckhand on a steamer. During this time he became known as “Cudjo Lewis.” He later explained that he suggested “Cudjo,” a day-name commonly given to boys born on a Monday, as an alternative to his given name when James Meaher had difficulty pronouncing “Kossola.” Historian Diouf posits that the surname “Lewis” was a corruption of his father’s name Oluale, sharing the “lu” sound; in his homeland, the closest analogue to what Americans understood as a surname would have been a patronymic.

Africans Wanted They Own Africa Right Here in The Unites States

After the abolition of slavery and the end of the Civil War, the Clotilde captives tried to raise money to return to their homeland. The men worked in lumber mills and the women raised and sold produce, but these occupations did not allow them to acquire sufficient funds. After realizing that they would not be able to return to Africa, the group deputized Lewis to ask Timothy Meaher for a grant of land. When he refused, the members of the community continued to raise money and began to purchase land around Magazine Point. On September 30, 1872, Lewis bought about two acres of land in the Plateau area for $100.00.

African Town developed as a self-contained community. The group appointed leaders to enforce communal norms derived from their shared African background, and developed institutions including a church, a school, and a cemetery. Diouf explains that African Town was unique because it was both a “black town,” inhabited exclusively by people of African ancestry, and an enclave of people born in another country. She writes, “Black towns were safe havens from racism, but African Town was a refuge from Americans.” Writing in 1914, Emma Langdon Roche noted that the surviving founders of African Town preferred to speak in their own language among themselves. She described the English of adults as “very broken and not always intelligible even to those who have lived among them for many years.

Although native-born American former slaves became citizens upon the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in July 1868, this change in status did not apply to the members of the Clotilde group, who were foreign-born. Cudjo Kazoola Lewis became a naturalized American citizen on October 24, 1868.

 

 

The schooner Clotilda is the last known United States slave ship to bring enslaved people from Africa to the United States. Constructed in 1855 by the Mobile, Alabama captain and shipbuilder William Foster, the Clotilda was originally intended for the “Texas trade.” It was eighty-six feet in length, twenty-three feet in breadth, possessed two masts and one deck, weighed 120 81/91 tons, and though not originally intended for the slave trade, the ship was capable of carrying an estimated 190 people. Foster sold the Clotilda to the prominent Mobile businessman Timothy Meaher for $35,000 in 1860 after being approached by Meaher about commanding an illegal slaving voyage to Ouidah, a port town in Dahomey (today Benin).
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In the spring of 1860, the Clotilda was loaded with 125 barrels of water, 25 casks of rice, 30 casks of beef, 40 pounds of pork, 3 barrels of sugar, 25 barrels of flour, 4 barrels of bread, 4 barrels of molasses, 80 casks of rum, 25 casks of “dry goods and sundries,” and $9,000 in gold (today $185,000) intended for the purchase of 125 Africans; these provisions were hidden by stacks of lumber that would later be used to build the planks and platforms for the captives’ “beds.” The ship set sail on the night of March 3, 1860 under the pretense of bringing a cargo of lumber to the Danish Virgin Islands.

The voyage to Ouidah lasted two and a half months. Foster and the eleven-men crew survived a violent storm and numerous attempted attacks by pirates and ships of other slaving nations. While briefly docked in Cape Verde for repairs, the crew was told the true purpose of the voyage after they discovered the provisions obviously intended for returning human cargo. On May 15, 1860, the Clotilda arrived at Ouidah. After more than a week of anchoring a mile and half from shore, the ship set sail for the United States now loaded with 110 African captives.

The Africans were confined in complete darkness below the deck for thirteen days. After this initial period, the captives spent the majority of the journey above deck. Though no sicknesses or deaths were reported during the forty-five day return voyage, the Africans, who were later interviewed about their experiences on the Clotilda, recounted the twice-daily meager sip of vinegar-treated water they were allowed and the general hardships they suffered.

On July 8, 1860, the Clotilda entered the Mississippi Sound, anchored off Point-of-Pines in Grand Bay, and waited for nightfall. Under the cover of darkness, the ship was clandestinely tugged up the Mobile River to Twelve-Mile Island. Here, the Africans were transported to a second ship, the Czar, and sent further up river to be surreptitiously transferred to their respective new owners. The Clotilda, now empty and reeking of the stenches indicative of a slave voyage, was set afire by William Foster, though later he claimed to have sold the ship for $6,000.

July 8th 1876 Black Militia in Black Town Attacked after Whites Try to Disarm Them , South Carolina New Afrikans Form Black Militia To Protect Black Town in Hamburg

On July 8, 1876, the small town of Hamburg, South Carolina erupted in violence as the community’s New Afrikan militia clashed with whites from the surrounding rural area. Hamburg was a small all-black community across the river from Augusta, Georgia. Like many New Afrikan communities in South Carolina, it was solidly Republican and with the GOP in charge in Columbia, some of its men were members of the South Carolina National Guard….

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On July 4, two white farmers from surrounding Edgefield County, Thomas Butler and Henry Getzen, attempted to drive a carriage through the town along the main road, but were obstructed by the all-black Militia which was engaged in a military exercise. Although the farmers got through the military formation after an initial argument, racial tensions remained high. – By this point hundreds of armed white men, including many who were members of various rifle clubs, descended upon the small black community. Militia members retreated to a stone warehouse which they used as their armory.

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Sometime during the afternoon a battle ensued. Surrounded and outnumbered, twenty-five militiamen and fifteen Hamburg residents fought back from the armory. By mid afternoon a white attacker and a militiaman lay dead, and a few more members of the militia were wounded. A cannon was brought over from nearby Augusta and aimed at the armory. As cannon fire blew a hole in the armory, some black militiamen and Hamburg’s Town Marshal, James Cook, attempted to flee. Cook was shot and killed. The rest of the militiamen and towns people were captured in the armory. Four of the militiamen were brought out and immediately executed by the white mob. The rest were allowed to escape, though as soon as they began to flee, the whites trained their guns on the escaping men, shooting as many as possible. Seven men died that afternoon. Six were black militiamen or civilians and one was a white farmer killed in the attack on the armory.

Haki Kweli Shakur

 

 

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Events

The events that led to the massacre began July 4, 1876, when two white men driving a carriage through Hamburg, an all-black town on the banks of the Savannah River, were delayed by a parade of the town’s militia, which was then part of the South Carolina Guard.

Whites later demanded that the militia be disbanded, and tensions rose. On July 8, about 100 armed whites surrounded about 40 blacks at the militia’s armory and shots were fired.

Meriwether, a white farmer, was killed. Some of the militiamen and other freedmen slipped away after darkness fell, but about two dozen were caught by the white mob, which picked out and executed four of them: Attaway, Phillips, Stephens and Myniart. Other black victims died of wounds from the armory fight or as they fled the scene of the executions.

Though 94 white men were indicted by a grand jury, they were not prosecuted. The massacre spawned violence elsewhere – in Ellen­ton, for example, where 100 blacks were killed – and drew national attention.

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Black South Carolinians For Black Militia

Hamburg, South Carolina, was an all-black town on the border with Georgia, an area that was a stronghold for the Democratic Party. Hearing news of white militias forming in surrounding towns, the intendant (or mayor) of Hamburg, John Gardner, formed an all-black militia of 84 men and, with the following letter, asked the governor to arm them as part of the state’s National Guard.
Town Hall, Town of Hamburg, August 19, 1874
His Excellency F. J. Moses, Jr., Governor of South Carolina

I respectfully recommend to your immediate and favorable consideration the application of 75 of the Citizens of this Town who have formed themselves into a Company and wish to be received into the National Guards and be armed as such. I have several reasons for urging this matter, but will only allude to one. We are situated on the banks of the Savannah River, a bridge connecting us with the City of Augusta [Georgia]. We call your attention to the paper of last Tuesday and today which show the danger the poor colored and few white Republicans of this town are in when 50 men or more leave their State to come to ours for the purpose of aiding a riot. In our rear some 6 or 8 miles we hear of two well-organized cavalry companies (whites) fully armed, ready for any purpose. We are entirely unarmed.

Therefore I pray your Excellency to receive the Company of which I am a member, commission the officers and use your authority in immediately arming them. The Citizens have for the last three nights been guarding this Town as the rumors are that those men would pay us a call with their Sharps rifles. Hoping your Excellency will assist us. I am your Obedient Servant,