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America’s New Black Codes


By Dr. Hermene Hartman

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    August 2, 2023 (N’Digo) — Black Codes and Jim Crow laws were passed at different periods in the Southern United States to enforce racial segregation and curtail the power of Black voters. After the Civil War ended in 1865, some states passed Black laws that severely limited the rights of Black people, many of whom had been enslaved.

The Smithsonian historical documents demonstrate the Black Code Laws. “The Alabama Slave Code of 1833 included the following law “[S31] Any person who shall attempt to teach any free person of color, or slave, to spell, read or write, shall upon conviction thereof by indictment, be fined for not less than two hundred fifty dollars, nor more than five hundred dollars.” At this time, Harpers Weekly published an article that stated “the alphabet is an abolitionist. If you would keep a people enslaved, refuse to teach them to read.”

When you read contemporary newspapers and what is going on in Florida regarding Black History lessons, I can’t help to think that new Black codes are being introduced to America.

“Slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their benefit.” This is written as law into the State Laws of Florida in 2023 regarding how to teach Black History. This is a thought steeped with ignorance. To say slaves were stripped of everything, stolen from their homeland, and held in bondage for 400 years is a misinterpretation of America’s enslavement.

Books are being banned from the classrooms based purely on the subject matter. This is reminiscent of Adolph Hitler‘s tactics.

America cannot deny slavery. America cannot make history a nicety. It is America’s original sin. It was not gentile. It was cruel, ugly, harsh, and mean. People were enslaved and captured from the shores of Africa to work lowly jobs in America, picking cotton, manning fields, working rice fields, and doing domestic work from cooking to cleaning. Slave owners raped women, thus the multi-colors in the race with skin color and a variety of hair textures.

When the slaves were freed after Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, many continued to work with slight pay. The enslaved did what they could to survive – sew, clean, hard labor, sharecropping, etc. Slaves built this country; the White House and many State capitals represent the work. Slaves built Harvard School. The list continues. People survived with little education, perhaps a skill that whites would hire. Many males were barbers for white males. The new Florida law gives the example of unskilled labor, like shoemaking and fishing and horseshoe making.

The Floridians are trying to reshape and reinterpret the truth of history with denial and lies. Perhaps this is to make white America feel good. There is no feel-good with slavery.

They introduce a new Black Code to say that slaves developed skills for personal benefit. This is a statement with no sense.

The Tulsa Saga And then we move to yet another Tulsa, Oklahoma, government initiative. On June 6, 1921, a prosperous Black community was destroyed. Business enterprises and homes were burned to the ground. Whites destroyed the town because it was said (a lie) that a Black man harassed a white woman on the elevator. The government destroyed a Black segregated town where people thrived amongst themselves. White hate and jealousy led by Ku Klux Klan government officials were out of hand with fire, riot, air bombing, and destruction.

In the past century, attempts have been made to sue the city, sue the government for the destruction for restitution. The survivors are now over 100 years; they are suing for a well-documented case of domestic terror. Judge Caroline Wall ruled that the court should not engage in the “management of public policy matters“. It is well known that the government, from police officers to the mayor, to the governor, was responsible for the destruction. The judge, a century later, refused to hear the case. This is shameful.

Nothing is being done to compensate these people for destroying their lives. A new Black code comes forth. Ignore the bad deeds.

So, how does the Tulsa Massacre play in the history books? For the most part, it has been ignored. So, what we see now is a new Black Code practice. White folk protecting their code and a cover-up based on historical lies.

Black Chicago Educators And then we get to the greatest city in the world by some measure and what are they doing in Black education. Six Black male principals are being harassed and removed from school leadership with questions of why. The law department at CPS claims misconduct with challenging to define. The mayor of Chicago, the new mayor, Brandon Johnson, watches with full authority to stop the madness. One of the principals could have been him. Why such actions?

We watch another incident where Urban Prep Academies, with the purpose of success, educates Black boys who go to colleges around the country, with a 100% success rate, as the headmaster is challenged with sexual misconduct. The school successfully won in the courts to remain a charter school. It makes you wonder. We have seen catholic priests from school to church be accused of the same, but the institution never considered closing.

New Black Code laws are coming forth in America that will take Black America backward.

We should protest with the vote. This should be front and center in the upcoming presidential campaigns. The idea of these incidents is insulting to Black America. You cannot rewrite history. It is what it is.

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Dr. Hermene Hartman
312 882 7501

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