A century ago, the Mississippi Senate voted to send the entire black population of the state to Africa – THE NEWS BEYOND DETROIT

A century ago, the Mississippi Senate voted to send the entire black population of the state to Africa – THE NEWS BEYOND DETROIT
A century ago, the Mississippi Senate voted to send the entire black population of the state to Africa – THE NEWS BEYOND DETROIT

Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 21 was authored by Senator Torrey George McCallum, former Mayor of Laurel in Jones County. The county has achieved some Hollywood fame as the “Free State of Jones,” a hotbed of Union sentiment during the Civil War, but the McCallums were deeply committed to the institution of slavery. Torrey’s grandfather Archibald enslaved 51 people on his plantation in 1860 and had a net worth of $80,000, roughly $2.5 million today.

McCallum’s proposal came after World War I. America’s relatively late entry into the war and the devastation of the conflict left many of its European allies deeply indebted to Washington. In total, European countries owed $10.35 billion, the equivalent of $174 billion today.

Though cash-strapped, those countries had plenty of colonial territory, particularly in Africa, where major European powers had rushed to carve up the continent’s land and resources. McCallum saw the makings of a deal.

Its resolution argued in flowery language that “the spirit of racial consciousness” had grown with a rise in nationalist sentiments throughout the world after the war and that it was “our sincerest desire to arrive at a just, equitable, amicable settlement.” and end” to what some white people then called “the Negro question.”

It concluded with a request that President Warren G. Harding “acquire by treaty, negotiation, or otherwise from our allies of the last war sufficient territory on the continent of Africa to make a fit, proper, and ultimate home for the Negro American, where under the tutelage of the American government it can develop for itself a great republic, to become in time a free and sovereign state and take its place in the governing council of the nations of the world.”

McCallum made it clear that “the spirit of racial consciousness” that mattered to him belonged to white people. The goal, he wrote, was “that our country may become one in blood as it is in spirit, and that the dream of our forefathers be realized in the final colonization of the American Negro on his native soil.” The resolution does not specifically state whether the proposed mass migration would be voluntary. But his use of language as a “final agreement”, “the final colonization” and the United States becoming “one in the blood” makes it clear that the goal was total elimination.

Read More :   Vivo HP cheaper with fast charging technology in 2022
African-American men and a boy posed with a horse-drawn cart loaded with bales of cotton in front of the Leflore County, Mississippi, courthouse, c. 1920. (Library of Congress)

Not consulted in this process: Mississippi’s black residents, who in the 1920 census made up 52 percent of the state’s population. During Reconstruction, Mississippi’s black majority had sent three African Americans to Congress and more than 60 to the state legislature. All that had ended, though, first with rampant white violence in the 1870s and 1880s, then with the passage of a new state constitution in 1890 that effectively disenfranchised blacks.

Somehow, it seemed like the post-Reconstruction era was returning: Another spike in violence against blacks followed World War I, especially during the Red Summer of 1919, and the Ku Klux Klan was suddenly reborn.

Black newspapers across the country scoffed at McCallum’s proposal, just as African Americans in general had resisted attempts at colonization in the previous century. “Only one thing seems to have been overlooked by the Hon. Senator, and that is, how even Mississippians of color will be induced or enabled by the Mississippi Legislature to go to Africa,” wrote Broad Axe, a black Chicago newspaper. After generations of rapes of enslaved women by white men, he wrote, “the shades in between are so numerous and varied that it can be a question of who is a person of color. Of course, those things don’t bother McCallum.”

“We see that the representatives in Mississippi would colonize black Americans in Africa,” wrote the Southern Columbia, SC Indicator “Poor fools.”

Read More :   Drama Cina A Student Arrives at Imperial College (2021) Indonesian Subtitle

The one exception was Negro World, the national newspaper published by Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, which embraced McCallum’s proposal. Garvey believed that members of the African diaspora would never be treated fairly in a white-controlled country and that the solution was a new African homeland.

“Long live Senator McCallum,” resounded its headline. “Work of Universal Negro Improvement Assn. Bearing Fruit.”

Garvey delivered a speech at Liberty Hall in New York endorsing McCallum’s plan: “The Negro must not delude himself…by the belief that the future will mean happiness and contentment to him in this country, as it is the spirit and the undoubted intention of the target. man that this will indeed be the white man’s country.”

Black nationalist Marcus Garvey is shown in a military uniform as the “Provisional President of Africa” ​​during a parade on Lenox Avenue in the Harlem section of Manhattan in August 1922 during the opening day exercises for the annual Convention of the Black Peoples of the World. (AP)

Garvey was becoming known for seeking out strange bedfellows in his quest for black autonomy abroad. A few months later, he went to the offices of the resurgent Ku Klux Klan in Atlanta for a cordial meeting with Imperial wizard Edward Young Clarke, drawing outrage from black leaders and newspapers. (Garvey was indicted on mail fraud charges at the time, so he, too, may have been motivated to curry favor with white officials.)

Mississippi’s largest newspaper, Clarion Ledger once called “the most racist newspaper in the nation” — happily ran the full text of a telegram Garvey sent to McCallum offering his “congratulations” on “the splendid move” he had made.

But Garvey seemed aware of who he was associating with. McCallum, he said in a speech, “is the same Southern senator who would object and back the objection, with all his life and the last drop of his blood, to a Negro in the United States of America dining with the President of the United States.” United in the White House.

Read More :   4 Advantages of the Mitsubishi Colt L300 Euro 4, Pick Up Hero! – Moladin

McCallum was far from the only racist white leader interested in sending blacks “back” to an Africa they had never seen.

The momentum goes back long before the Civil War, to the early days of state colonization societies, which built colonies in what is now Liberia. The Mississippi Colonization Society created Mississippi-in-Africa on the Pepper Coast, sending several hundred freed slaves there to face what became the highest mortality rates of any society in recorded human history. Some proponents of colonization saw it as a more humane option than slavery, but more saw it as a way to rid their states of free blacks who might encourage rebellions among enslaved people.

As the Civil War approached, debates about slavery were not limited to the two extremes: continuing and expanding slavery on the one hand, and making African Americans free and full political citizens on the other.

Some white people advocated freeing the enslaved, but still denied them the vote, just as most free blacks in both North and South were denied. Others wanted to create a limited class of black voters, restricted only to those who were educated or had fought for the Union. And many thought that the only solution to the “black question” was to send them away, either voluntarily or by force, to a new colony in the Caribbean or “back” to Africa.

Hinton Rowan Helper, the South’s foremost anti-slavery activist, was nonetheless a virulent racist and proponent of removal. As he wrote in the first weeks of the war: “Death to slavery! Down with the slavers! Blacks out!

Among those interested in colonization was Abraham Lincoln, who was repeatedly attracted to the idea. In 1862, Congress passed a bill appropriating $600,000 for colonization of formerly enslaved people living in the District of Columbia. Lincoln sent a young free black man named John Willis Menard to British Honduras (now Belize) to explore it as a potential location; the Danish Virgin Islands, British Guiana and Dutch Suriname were also considered.

Lincoln reached an agreement to establish a colony in the Chiriquí province of what is now Panama, but strong objections from Central American countries led him to scrap the plan. He eventually signed off on a disastrous experiment that sent 453 free Virginia blacks to the Haitian island of Île-à-Vache. High rates of disease and a mutiny led to its collapse and 350 survivors sailed back to Virginia less than a year later.