One of my recent contributors sent me this post-it note with his donation qualifying him for a book he really nay not have any interest in. However, he has been with me since our School Board showed the town they knew better than the town did how to fix up our schools.
Today I craved a little escape from campaigning. My fundraising letter will take a week longer than I hoped to get organized. Next week I hope. In any event that’s still a long way from the November election and closer to the beginning of the school year when people start paying attention to a school board race. So I read not quite half way through the Book about the 1919 Race Riots: Red Summer. These riots were mostly white riots in black neighborhoods. My Grandfather was recuperating from his wounds from The First World War and White Americans were aggrieved that black soldiers, like those my Grandfather commanded, were coming home thinking they were heroes and worse yet men. This was one year before Duluth’s infamous lynching.
Something I read in the book reminded me of yet another book about black mistreatment that I’ve had unread on my shelves for several years Slavery by Another Name. I rousted it out of my book shelf to look something up in it. I have a book from most American Eras from the Civil War on covering how badly blacks were mistreated almost up to the present and the white anxiety that some crazy black people are still asking for reparations.
“Slavery by …” is about the time just before World War I. Like Red Summer it has some harrowing tales. The book chronicles the sixty years after the Civil War when the South treated unlucky black man once again as slaves hiring them out for the worst work possible for virtually no recompense while they served jail terms for phony crimes. It would lead to an exodus of blacks from the South to the few square miles they were allotted in big northern Cities. Still, unlucky blacks were sold to White farmers who thought nothing of chaining them up while they were in their “employ.” One such story was about a prominent farmer who was visited by federal agents tasked with making sure blacks were not kept as slaves or in the euphemism of the age “peonage.” At the time the farmer had a dozen such men working for him and when the agents chatted with them they said nothing lest they face the wrath of the farmer. The Agents were satisfied that all was well enough but the rich farmer made the mistake of asking them what they were looking for. When they spelled out what the law forbade the farmer realized he had violated the law. Not realizing that the two agents were happy to leave well enough alone the farmer decided to get rid of the evidence. That was one of the tricks of slavers persued across the sea by the British nave. They simply tossed dozens of humans chained together overboard to the sharks that followed their vessels like so much chum. When the British Navy caught them there was no more evidence.
So the Farmer murdered his dozen workers over the next couple days to be sure there was no evidence. This worked until some weeks later a dozen corpses floated up from lakes they had been disposed in. This sudden profussion of murder caught the federal agents attention and the happy ending was the imprisonment of the well to do civic leader.
A year after I moved to Minnesota my only real friend, Jim, introduced me to a young man just back from the army. Jim knew I had gone to school with “colored Kids” and knew I was on their side. He knew that this kid back from the military was not on their side. Jim introduced me to see what would happen. I said some nice things about the black kids I had known and the white kids said roughly this. “I used to be on their side but the Army cured me of that. They were nasty awful people and didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I can’t stand them.” I put that in quotes but I’m sure he was a lot more earthy in his disparagement.
I may have tried to reason with the kid who was eight or nine years my senior but I doubt I tried very hard.
I’m willing to argue with Donald Trump. He may have gone to Wharton School but he is a lot dumber than that kid was. He knew how to avoid getting drafted and serving his country with the kind of people he bent over backward not to sell his apartments to.
While I’m waiting for my letter to go out I’ll once again invite anyone of a mind to, to donate to my campaign. There’s a book in it for you.