I’m so grateful for the @nationalbar presentation on the laws impacting our enslaved ancestors. First came the designation of Black babies as enslaved for life if the mother was enslaved. By 1680 came the removal of the Black right to self defense.
By 1705, chattel slavery was fully established. From 1619 until 1705, White people worked to systematically disenfranchise Black people. Bit by bit, colonialists intentionally structured laws to codify Black people as non human.
The early legal cases where African enslaved people sued for their freedom are fascinating. Africans who’d escaped to freedom hired lawyers, mounted legal claims to freedom. But federal laws like the fugitive slave act conflicted w state laws that granted freedom rights.
The African woman at the heart of a case out of Pennsylvania lost. She & her children were sent back into slavery (even the one who had been born in the free state of Pennsylvania). Federal laws guaranteeing slavery trumped state laws that provided for freedom.
Ok, now the presenter is talking about Jefferson & Sally Hemings. *takes notes*
Concubinage was when African women worked as slaves during the day, were systematically raped at night & navigating the slave owner’s wife 24/7.
In one such case, a young African assigned to concubinage decided to get revenge against the White man who bought her. She told him no. He advances anyway.
She (Celia) grabs a log out the fire pit and WHOOPS HIS ASS. Beats him dead. Takes out a butcher knife, chops him up and buries him (Robert Newsome) in the back yard.
(Audience breaks into applause.)
Celia was arrested and put on trial. But no Black person was allowed to testify against a White person. (This is why Blacks are routinely removed from juries - to this day). Celia wasn’t allowed to testify on her own behalf. She’s property. Property can’t speak.
She was found guilty and sentenced to hang. Right after giving birth to Robert Newsome’s child, she was out to death.
During Reconstruction, we had over 4000 (FOUR THOUSAND) Black men who were elected to political office. (Have you seen how many we have now? Past is present). This was between the late 1760s and mid 1790s.
Violent White supremacist terrorism ran them out of office - and essentially erased their history. The backlash was HORRIFIC. Remember that when you want to hold Obama up as a model. Considering the backlash, he may as well have never been president.
Separate but equal was based on the SCOTUS recognition that if White people had to sit next to us, they’d be enraged and moved to violence. White violence would lead to social unrest. SCOTUS said separate but equal would allow Blacks enough access w/o moving Whites to violence.
This was amazing. Thank you @GBrowneMarshall for a phenomenal presentation! Thank you @nationalbar for centering this scholarship in the conference.
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