Black Veterans: The Epitome of American Patriotism

I want to give a big thank you this Veterans Day to every Black man and woman that served in the United States military. It is ironic that patriotism and racism go together like baseball and hot dogs in the good old USA, as those who scream the loudest saying, “Support our troops!”, often care little about the domestic polices and de facto racism that keeps their “heroes” from living the very American dream that they are told to fight for and export to nations around the world.

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The Black soldier lined up to fight the British in 1775, even while they were being enslaved! To add insult to injury, many of the Black soldiers fought in the so-called Revolutionary War “in place of their masters, fighting for a freedom they would never see for themselves. (In many cases, their enlistment bonuses or even their pay went straight to their masters.)

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At the time of the Civil War, Fredrick Douglass argued that the Black soldier could help the North win the war, but Abraham Lincoln did not want armed Black slaves (and you were taught in school that he wanted to free the slaves right?). He later gave in, but imagine the horrific torture that awaited a Black Union soldier that was captured by the Confederate army? The Black soldier did not receive equal pay for his fighting, and heroes like Robert Smalls proved that the Black soldier really was as smart as the White soldier, which was a common stereotype of the time as well as today (e.g. “IQ tests”). These Black soldiers would soon be placed back into second-class citizenship in the U.S., as the Union and Confederate states sought reconciliation with one another, not the men and women that it had enslaved for over 250 years. Those same Black soldiers, like other formerly enslaved Black Americans, didn’t receive their ”40 acres and a mule”. That land was given back to the very people they had just fought against just years prior.

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Fast forward to WWI, right in the midst of the Nadir period for civil rights, as Black Americans were “free” but certainly not equal, so many Black men enlisted to fight, “the War Department had to stop accepting black volunteers because the quotas for African Americans were filled.” “African American men who owned their own farms and had families were often drafted before single white employees of large planters. Although comprising just ten percent of the entire United States population, blacks supplied thirteen percent of inductees.”  They returned to a nation who’s cities erupted with race riots that stole black wealth (Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921) and lynchings and sundown towns.

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By WWII, Black Americans still enlisted and desired to fight so-call fascism with pride. However, how embarrassing was it for the USA to be called out on its hypocrisy by none other than…Hitler. He noted that the USA’s treatment of the Negro set an example for how Germany must deal with “foreign Jews”. They returned home after WWII still subjected to Jim Crow segregation, more race riots, and once again, unequal pay, as 1.2 million soldiers were not able to take advantage of their GI Bill and be free to move into the newly formed suburbs which would soon create an even wider wealth gap through housing that remains firmly entrenched into the 21st century. The result, the Black soldier’s family could not benefit from sacrifice that he made for his country not just with housing, but because they were also unable to use the money for college tuitions or business loans. To add insult to atrocity, many were attacked by Whites as they were on their way home from the war.

 

How much changed by the Vietnam War for the Black soldier? I think you know the answer, as the 1960s are the one period of time most American’s did learn about in school as the “Civil Rights Era”, due to the assignation of Dr. Martin Luther King. Black Vietnam veterans, as after every other war, returned to segregated communities and “their place” in society. However, this time, the situation was in the process of changing. Some of these veterans returned home determined to now make this country live up to the promise it had been making to prior Black veterans for generations.

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How will we look at the time of service for those who served in Desert Storm or the so-called Iraqi War and years of fighting the “War on Terror”? Fifty years from now, will we look back and note their time of service at the time when Black men and women were being shot and killed by police officers and the officers continuously get found “not guilty”? Will we see that they served at a time when “White Extremists” in their own country, are considered more dangerous than the terrorist they were fighting in the Middle East?

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In my opinion, the Black veteran is the epitome of an American patriot. Perhaps they have never fought for what America actually was to them, but for what America always promised it would be to them and their offspring for their service.

For that, I sincerely say, thank you for your service.

Cool Pappa

3 Facts About The Emancipation Proclamation

For my school work last week I had to do research on the Emancipation Proclamation. I had never really considered researching the Emancipation Proclamation before, so I learned something new during this research. When most people think of the Civil War they remember a war that was fought over states rights, but is that really true? Did the Emancipation Proclamation get signed on January 1, 1863? Did President Abraham Lincoln really care about the slaves? When I looked up the Emancipation Proclamation I found answers to questions I didn’t even know, and I would like to share them today.

1.  Did Abraham Lincoln care about the slaves?

From my research, I have concluded that Abraham Lincoln didn’t really care about the slaves. According to History.com, Lincoln said in 1861 during his inaugural address that he has, “no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with slavery in the States where it exists.” He said this a little less than two months after the Civil War started. So at the beginning of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln could care less about the slaves, what he was focused on was winning the war.

2. Was the Civil War all about states rights?

Based on my research, the Civil War was fought over the owning of slaves. When the war was going badly for the Union, Lincoln had to come up with a solution. Lincoln realized that the Confederate side was using slaves to help fight the war, and when slaves started running to the Union side for safety, Lincoln had to figure out what to do. So Lincoln enacted two laws:

1.)  one law freed slaves who are engaged in the rebellion against the United states, and

2.) another law said the president had the power to use freed slaves in the army even as soldiers.

This, of course, freed the slaves that were involved in helping the Confederate side, and Lincoln had the power to make the freed slaves soldiers for the Union army. So the freed slaves were not entirely free. By this time, Lincoln wanted the Emancipation Proclamation to free all slaves in Confederate states, so he talked it over with his cabinet. According to History.com, Lincoln quoted that it has now become “a military necessity…. We must free the slaves or ourselves be subdued.” But Secretary of State William H. Seward told Lincoln to wait until a major Union military victory was done. So Lincoln waited until the Battle of Antietam, then on January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation took effect.

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This is Secretary of State William H. Seward.

3. When did Abraham Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation?

I found out that Lincoln first said that the Confederate states had to free their slaves from September 22, 1862, to January 1, 1863. But of course, the Confederate states said no, so Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation was actually declared on September 22, 1862.

What I have told you today are things I have learned recently myself, and I find this information to be a big part of American history and should be taught. America can celebrate their meaningless holidays like Halloween and Valentines Day, why do we celebrate these holidays. Halloween is basically all about candy, and you should show your love for someone every day of the year, not just one day. My family will celebrate something that shaped how we live today.