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Foreword to What The WORLD Should Know About Black History In The USA

"You Been Set Free" "When freedom came, my mama said Old Master called all of 'em to his house, and he said, ‘you all free, we ain't got nothing to do with you no more. Go on away. We don't whop you no more, go on your way.’

My mama said they go on off, then they come back and stand around, just looking at him and Old Mistress. They give 'em something to eat and he say, 'Go on away, you don't belong to us no more. You been freed.'

They go away and they kept coming back. They didn't have no place to go and nothing to eat. From what she said, they had a terrible time. She said it was bad times. Some
took sick and had no 'tention and died.
Seemed like it was four or five years before they got to places they could live.

They all got scattered . . Old Master every time they go back say, You all go on away. You been set free. You have to look out for yourselves now.'

An ex-slave's account in Lay My Burden Down: A Folk History of Slavery , Ben Botkin, 1945

The above statement reveals the plight of a people facing a freedom almost as formidable as the bondage from which they were released. The vindictive attitude of many Southern slave holders was exemplified by the cry, "The Yankees freed you, now let the Yankees feed you." Freedom without food, shelter, clothing or the means to get them was to the black man — like the one above — an obvious step backwards. Despairing of a place to settle, rootless bands of "freedmen" roamed the South in that vague and hazy world between waking and sleeping, life and death, bondage and freedom

"The South was a shambles, its major cities gutted or shelled, its farms neglected, crops un-gathered, banks closed, Confederate money worthless, and about 1/3 of its male citizens killed or wounded," according to Langston Hughes in a "Pictorial History of the Negro in America." Both black and white people of the South faced the immense task of re-establishing their lives. But the immediate future of freed slaves was indeed dark.

To alleviate the situation, Congress established the Freedmen's Bureau, in March 1865, to be administered by the Army and headed by Major General Oliver 0. Howard. Against violent southern opposition the Freedmen's Bureau, supported by Federal troops, distributed rations and medicine to the poor, black and white alike. The Bureau built or helped to build more than 4,000 schools staffed with 9,000 teachers who served almost 250,000 black students.

At the time of the Emancipation, only one in every ten of the newly freed could read and write. Thousands of northern whites went to the South to teach at the Bureau's request, despite hostile threats. The task of teaching, especially under such conditions, seemed impossible. But, when the Bureau was abolished in 1870, approximately 21 per cent of the newly freed were literate.

Walter G. (Buzz) Luttrell. WXYZ-TV Detroit, community affairs director, talk show host, & award-winning reporter. WBZ-TV Boston, two-time Emmy-winning talk-show host. At WXYZ-TV created "The Best of the Class," saluted inner-city H.S. valedictorians in 90+ U.S. cities. Received U.S. Justice Department's "Community Service Award" for nationally-distributed educational video, "The Possible Dream - Racial Harmony in U.S. Schools." Wrote first and only print “publication” in 1969 – a 20-page “booklet,” as a Black history "supplement" for U.S. public school history courses... after the infamous “race riots” of the ‘60’s. (Educators cited a lack of Black history teaching resources.) Now, he has updated and modified the "booklet" as a stimulating, easy-to-read, but "challenging primer" for those interested in the history of Blacks in the USA. ("What the WORLD Should Know About Black History In The USA" - Only 22 pages, with generous illustrations.)

DMU Timestamp: April 24, 2013 20:58

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