Part 1: We Came Before Columbus
Part 2 : Were the economic benefits to Europeans of owning African-Americans as chattel property? The returns must have been enormous. We see companies today traveling around the world seeking the most slave-like conditions they can find. Whether it’s 23-cents-an-hour in Haiti or a dollar-a-day in Malaysia, by buying labor so low and selling the output so high multinational corporations like Nike and Disney are market phenomena and widely admired in the financial communities. So if paying low wages is good, then paying no wages is better. The combination of stolen land and stolen labor at the coming industrial age made the United States( in those early years) the greatest ground-floor opportunity of all time, a ground floor that was constructed and financed by the labor of Africans.
The Middle Passage
“The period of the 1500’s and 1600’s came after a thousand years of great independent states in West Africa,” said Professor Henrik Clarke. “After the Moslem Africans lost control over Spain, they began to prey on the Africans further to the south. They destroyed the -great independent states of West Africa, and subsequently set Africa up for the Western
As any other nationalities, when Africans were brought to this hemisphere, they came carrying their many languages and their learning. But unlike any other nationality, everything else was taken from them, and they were delivered physically and psychologically decimated and naked on these shores. Those that survived the 240 years of the Middle Passage (1619-1859) found themselves now Africans-in-America, held captive by a people who viewed them as property enough to be bought and sold, but human enough to be raped.
Forbidden their own languages, the Africans began to use local words to identify objects and their environment. They standardized on the local language, whether it was French, Portuguese or English. For the Africans, this learning process had to be done in an atmosphere of terror, where killings and beatings were only a glance away. As the centuries passed, and as American slavery centered more in the southern United States, many Africans escaped into the north or joined others in the tribes of the indigenous people.
Communities were formed from the Seminoles of Florida to the Brooklyn, NY districts of Weeksville and Vinegar Hill.
Escapees Organize in the North Escapees to the north found each other and worked together to build their communities from the dirt ground up.
By the 1800’s, the Africans had positioned themselves to build schools and large churches. In the pamphlet “Weeksville Then and Now,” authors Joan Maynard and Gwen Cottman show the importance of learning and self-help to the Africans. The pamphlet has a replica of “The Freedmen’s Torchlight”, a community newspaper published by the African Civilization Society, which was housed in its own building on the comer of Dean Street and Troy Avenue in Brooklyn, NY. Dated December 1866, a year after the Civil War ended, “It included stirring statements of its philosophy of Black self-help, information on the Freedmen’s schools, featured moral anecdotes and listings of their contributors. The front page was devoted to the Alphabets, Basic English, Arithmetic, Geography and view of the nature of God and Man. In this way, the newspaper also served as a textbook for the newly freed slaves to learn reading and writing.” “Some organizations prior to and during the development of Weeksville were the New York Society for Mutual Relief, founded in 1808; the African Woolmen Society, founded in 1810; the Brooklyn African Tompkins Society, founded circa 1827; and the Weeksville Assistance Society, circa 1854. A chapter of the Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masons started in Brooklyn with the formation of Widows Sons Lodge, No. II in 1849.” And then there were the churches. “Brooklyn’s first Black church, the Bridge Street African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church, was incorporated in 1818. Along with Siloam Presbyterian, founded in 1849, these churches were terminals on the slave escape route called “the Underground Rail-