Black History: It goes all the way back to day 1

At the beginning of Black History Month we should recognize that people of African descent have been on the American continent just as long as people from Europe.* There was never a time in the history of European colonization of America that did not include black people. Nor was there really a place or time in the Americas not touched by slavery.jumpingtherail

The Spanish had been in the American slavery business for more than 100 years before the Pilgrims got to Plymouth so it shouldn’t be surprising that by the 1620’s the boats full of New England settlers also brought along Black people as slaves.

At the same time the same thing was going on in Jamestown down in Virginia, and in Philadelphia, then Charleston too.DSC02518

Hereditary slavery dictated by skin color wasn’t codified at the start and things took different routes in different regions, but on February 1st, the start of the month when a greater focus is placed on the participation of Black people in America, we should know that Black people have been here the entire time. They were never an afterthought, nor were they simply forgotten, but the stories, contributions, and relevance have been intentionally pushed aside, covered up, and discarded.

Lets fix that.


*There are theories and some evidence that Africans visited and even settled on the American continent before Columbus.

Early Hours at Plymouth Rock

128 years after the Spanish and Portuguese got things rolling over here in America a bunch of English folks decided to get in on the action.  290 years after that, I followed suit. 

Turkey Dinner, here we come!

 With plans to photograph the site of our nations founding at sunrise, symbolism and whatnot, I arrived in Plymouth somewhere between way-to-early, and 4am.  Upon arrival I remembered a life lesson I have long since known, which is that no matter how early you rise, you will not get out-and-about before either old people, or fog.  This morning I was bested by fog. 

The rigging of the Mayflower... sounds like the title of a historical fiction thriller.

 The Pilgrims sailed a ship called the Mayflower in hopes of finding religious freedom; I drove a vehicle called a van in hopes of finding a little financial security.  Those are kind of the same thing right? 

A reproduction of the Pilgrim's vessel.

 About 50 yards away from the reproduced ship is the rock itself. 

In 1933 a social studies student who had problems memorizing dates, took chisel in hand and created the best cheat-sheet that following generations could ask for.

 Looking down at the walled in stone, fighting to get Malcolm X quotes out of my head, I realized that history is best learned through experience, rather than theory.  So I went for it. 

If the Pilgrims could land on Plymouth rock, so could I.

 Appreciating that oft debated historical piece of geology, I recalled a forgotten principle of physics.  Two hundred Sixty pounds goes down, much easier than it goes up.  Standing at the bottom of that walled in pit, I mused that those who “break with convention” as I had cannot exactly call for help.  While pondering upon this I realized that our fore-fathers, who discarded their native lands religious regulations, had done just that.  They asked for help!  Maybe I could do the same. 

Massasoit was apparently fed-up with helping as he refused to lend me a hand.

Driving on to my next locale I pondered if we can ever know how things really were in the past, just as a reader can never really know if my tale is fiction or not.  My story is written, I have photographs, yet still, there is room for debate.

All I have to say, is no one not cast in bronze was there to see me, so my word is all you have.