It requires the engagement of writers, publishers, readers, teachers and, above all, the memories and memorabilia of persons of color.
The stories must be documented, or they are nothing more than tales and subject to disbelief. Once, it was thought that the records did not exist; however, we now know that is not the case. It is merely a different kind of system that must be applied to uncover the evidence.
It is imperative that we work together to reveal a truer history than most of us have learned and regrettably are continuing to not know; to be ill-informed or uninformed will serve no advantageous purpose. So then—upward and onward with a new series.
Over the upcoming weeks, and perhaps months, we will explore the resilience and creativity of a people denied access and their subsequent resourceful and non-violent solutions.
The situations we will discover are not the well-publicized events of denial of restricted or full access to bathrooms, dining facilities, public transportation and water fountains under the guise of legally enforced laws of segregation commonly referred to as Jim Crow laws. As a side note, you will read my best explanation of the origin of the term “Jim Crow” which I never heard or read about in 18 years of school.
You may be wondering if it is not about the above, then what?
We will learn together how millions of American citizens with the same Constitutional rights as every other American citizen were handicapped in their travel experiences whether for business or pleasure and were barred from competing in the fields of education, sports, military and the professions to cite only a few examples.
In viewing the historical facts through a different lens, the takeaway should be two-fold. The first will be to question the rationalization that we have been taught for decades that the laws were enacted to prevent the mingling of the races as one was believed inferior to the other. I would suggest to you that was not the case at all. Instead, it was solely about power and control through acts of humiliation, intimidation and oppression to perpetuate the theory that the descendants of slaves—like their ancestors—were inferior and incapable of matching, let alone surpassing, the accomplishments of their Caucasian brothers and sisters.
However, the plan of oppression backfired and that is the focus of the upcoming series.
To pique your curiosity, think on these things as examples: The Negro Baseball League; the Orange County Colored Horse Show and Races; the National Medical Association; National Insurance Association and the National Bar Association.
Previously published in the Orange County Review July 26, 2018