Slavery By Another Name
The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans From the Civil War to World War II
Book by Author
Douglas A. Blackmon
Slavery: . . . that slow Poison, which is daily contaminating the Minds & Morals of our People. Every Gentlemen here is born a petty Tyrant. Practiced in Acts of Despotism & Cruelty, we become callous to the Dictates of Humanity, & all the finer feelings of the Soul. Taught to regard a part of our own Species in the most abject & contemptible Degree below us, we lose that Idea of the dignity of Man which the Hand of Nature had implanted in us, for great & useful purposes.
GEORGE MASON, JULY 1773 VIRGINIA CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
NOTE TO READERS: On February 13, 2012, we viewed a remarkable and deeply disturbing documentary on PBS entitled Slavery By Another Name. This production was based on the book by Douglas A. Blackmon and chronicles the re-enslavement of African Americans from the Civil War through World War II.
We must admit that most of what we learned was totally new to us. Neither of us remembered any mention of a period of re-enslavement in late 19th and early 20th Century America during our formal educational experiences. Not in high school and not in college.
For previous visitors to this site, it should be apparent that one objective of our efforts has been to recount African American history, art and culture where it fits in within the context of our featured destinations. This is quite purposeful since our discussions with friends, relatives and acquaintances over the past few years have made it quite clear that few of them have taken the time to become knowledgeable in this area.
We recommend to all that you purchase and read Mr. Blackmon's book and view the PBS Series. We are including excerpts from the author's web page along with PBS and Georgia Weekly videos. We purchased the book (Kindle Fire Version) within minutes of the conclusion of the PBS presentation.
The Following Text and Photos Courtesy
Slavery By Another Name Web Site
David A. Blackmon
On July 31, 1903, a letter to President Theodore Roosevelt arrived at the White House from Carrie Kinsey, a barely literate African American woman in Bainbridge, Georgia. Her fourteen-year-old brother, James Robinson, had been abducted a year earlier and sold to a plantation. Local police would take no interest. "Mr. Prassident," wrote Mrs. Kinsey, struggling to overcome the illiteracy of her world. "They wont let me have him. . . . He hase not don nothing for them to have him in chanes so I rite to you for your help."
Like the vast majority of such pleas, her letter was slipped into a small rectangular folder at the Department of Justice and tagged with a reference number, in this case 12007.4 No further action was ever recorded. Her letter lies today in the National Archives.
A world in which the seizure and sale of a black man - even a black child - as viewed as neither criminal nor extraordinary had reemerged.
Millions of blacks lived in that shadow - as forced laborers or their family members, or African Americans in terror of the system's caprice. The practice would not fully recede from their lives until the dawn of World War II, when profound global forces began to touch the lives of black Americans for the first time since the era of the international abolition movement a century earlier, prior to the Civil War.
Instead of thousands of true thieves and thugs drawn into the system over decades, the records demonstrate the capture and imprisonment of thousands of random indigent citizens, almost always under the thinnest chimera of probable cause or judicial process.
The total number of workers caught in this net had to have totaled more than a hundred thousand and perhaps more than twice that figure. Instead of evidence showing black crime waves, the original records of county jails indicated thousands of arrests for inconsequential charges or for violations of laws specifically written to intimidate blacks - changing employers without permission, vagrancy, riding freight cars without a ticket, engaging in sexual activity - or loud talk - with white women.
Repeatedly, the timing and scale of surges in arrests appeared more attuned to rises and dips in the need for cheap labor than any demonstrable acts of crime. Hundreds of forced labor camps came to exist, scattered throughout the South - operated by state and county governments, large corporations, small-time entrepreneurs, and provincial farmers. These bulging slave centers became a primary weapon of suppression of black aspirations.
Where mob violence or the Ku Klux Klan terrorized black citizens periodically, the return of forced labor as a fixture in black life ground pervasively into the daily lives of far more African Americans.
And the record is replete with episodes in which public leaders faced a true choice between a path toward complete racial repression or some degree of modest civil equality, and emphatically chose the former. These were not unavoidable events, driven by invisible forces of tradition and history.
By 1900, the South's judicial system had been wholly reconfigured to make one of its primary purposes the coercion of African Americans to comply with the social customs and labor demands of whites.
Video Courtesy Catherine Williams & Douglas A. Blackmon Regarding Slavery By Another Name Book
It was not coincidental that 1901 also marked the final full disenfranchisement of nearly all blacks throughout the South.
Sentences were handed down by provincial judges, local mayors, and justices of the peace - often men in the employ of the white business owners who relied on the forced labor produced by the judgments. Dockets and trial records were inconsistently maintained. Attorneys were rarely involved on the side of blacks.
Revenues from the neo-slavery poured the equivalent of tens of millions of dollars into the treasuries of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and South Carolina - where more than 75 percent of the black population in the United States then lived.
Over the past 20 years, Douglas A. Blackmon has written extensively about the American quandary of race, exploring the integration of schools during his childhood in a Mississippi Delta farm town, lost episodes of the Civil Rights movement, and, repeatedly, the dilemma of how a contemporary society should grapple with a troubled past. Many of his stories in The Wall Street Journal have explored the interplay of wealth, corporate conduct and racial segregation.
Lee C. Bollinger, President of Columbia University (left), presents the 2009 General Nonfiction prize to
Douglas A. Blackmon
(Photo Courtesy Pulizer Prize Site)
Slavery by Another Name was awarded the 2009 Pulizer Prize for general non-fiction.
The book also received the 2009 American Book Award, the 2009 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Non-fiction Book Prize, and the 2008 Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights Book Award, among others.
It appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List in both hardcover and paperback editions.
After 16 years as a senior editor and correspondent at The Wall Street Journal, Blackmon became a contributing editor of the Washington Post and joined the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs in 2012, as Chair of the Miller Center Forum, a nationally syndicated weekly television program focused on congressional and presidential public policy and elevating the nation's public discourse.
While at the Journal, Blackmon wrote about many of the biggest developments in American life, including the 2010 midterm elections, the rise of the Tea Party movement, the 2012 president campaigns, and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
(Videos Courtesy Georgia Weekly Web Site)
His work on the BP disaster, along with a team of other Journal reporters and editors, was a finalist for another Pulitzer Prize, for national reporting, in 2011. The BP coverage was awarded the 2011 New York Association of Publishers prize for Investigative Reporting.
In 2000, the National Association of Black Journalists recognized Blackmon's stories revealing the secret role of J.P. Morgan & Co. during the 1960s in funneling funds between a wealthy northern white supremacist and segregationists fighting the Civil Rights Movement in the South.
A year later, he revealed in the Journal how U.S. Steel Corp. relied on forced black laborers in Alabama coal mines in the early 20th century, an article which led to his first book, Slavery By Another Name, which broadly examines how a form of neoslavery thrived in the U.S. long after legal abolition.
As the Journal's bureau chief in Atlanta until 2009, Doug managed the paper's coverage of airlines and other major transportation companies and publicly traded companies and institutions based in the southeastern U.S. The bureau directly covers the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and more than 1,200 companies, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Bank of America, Wachovia, Wells Fargo, United Parcel Service and FedEx. The Journal staff in Atlanta also writes about key news and issues in the 11-state region, including race, immigration, poverty, politics and, in recent years, global warming and hurricanes.
During PBS' SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME session at the TCA Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, CA on Wednesday, January 4, 2012, co-executive producer Douglas A. Blackmon (far right), descendant Susan Tuggle, descendant Dr. Sharon Malone, filmmaker Sam Pollard and executive producer Catherine Allan (Premiered Monday, February 13, 2012)
(Photo Courtesy Rahoul Ghose/PBS)
Blackmon's stories or the work of his team have been widely acclaimed, including for coverage of the subprime meltdown, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Florida hurricanes in 2004 and for his 2001 examination of slave labor in the 20th century. His article on U.S. Steel was included in the 2003 edition of Best Business Stories. The Journal's coverage of Hurricane Katrina received a special National Headliner award in 2006.
Blackmon joined the Journal in October 1995 as a reporter in Atlanta. Prior to joining the Journal, Blackmon was a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he covered race and politics, and special assignments including the fall of the Berlin Wall and the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. Previously, he was a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat, managing editor of the Daily Record in Little Rock, Ark, and a writer for weekly newspapers.
Blackmon penned his first newspaper story at the age of 12, for the Progress, in his hometown of Leland, Mississippi. He graduated from Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., and lives in Atlanta with his wife and two children.