How’s This for a Story: Strom Thurmond 

Hello and Good Evening everyone! I hope that you had a splendid day! As you can tell by the title of my blog post, I’m about to post something about the late Strom Thurmond. Every now and then I’ll deviate a little from my writing to post about a recent documentary I had seen. Are you ready? Let’s go. 

Strom Thurmond was a well-known segregationist, governor and senator who had a deep dark secret. What was his secret? He had a child with his 16 year old Black maid Carrie Butler when he 22 years old. What struck me the most about this documentary is how his daughter, Essie Mae Washington, didn’t come out and reveal that he was her father until he passed away at the age of 100 years old in 2003. She was 78 years old at the time. 

You may be wondering, “Why did she wait so long?” In her own words, she didn’t want to embarrass him. Although he was a self-proclaimed segregationist, he secretly cared for Essie Mae throughout most of her life up until the day he died. He paid for her college education and would often send her money. There were times when others around him became suspicious about their relationship because of his racial and political views. At one point, someone joked that she looked a lot like him. When you see Essie Mae, it’s clear as day that she was his child because she looked just like him. 

What Strom Thurmond didn’t know is that many Black people had already suspected that she was his child because of how much she looked like him and the amount of free access she had to him. Truth be told, he wasn’t the only one who did this. You’d be surprised how often things like that took place and still takes place. There were a lot of well-known public figures with the same hidden secret so this doesn’t come as much as a surprise to the overwhelming majority of Black people. 

I personally can’t understand how he could live his life the way he did knowing that he had a half Black child. I find myself wondering why Essie Mae waited so long to reveal that she was his daughter. Then again, I have to realize that it was her right. I don’t have the right to question her. She doesn’t owe me or anyone an explanation and I can’t do anything but respect her decision. In February 2013, Essie Mae Washington passed away and from what I could gather from this documentary, she had no regrets as to how she lived her life. 

Until next time… 

Mary Turner 

Do you recognize that name? Probably not, even though it is a very common name. Seeing how this is the end of Black History month, I have one final story to bring you tonight and it is about Mary Turner. 

Millions of people find it hard to believe that Black women were lynched in the United States. Yes, the majority of lynched Black Americans were male, but there were also Black females who were lynched as well. Like most lynchings that took place in America, they were unfounded and baseless. Yet, thousands upon thousands of innocent Black males and females were lynched without any interference or assistance from law enforcement. How sad and disturbing. 

Mary Turner was a pregnant twenty-one year old woman who was lynched in Georgia on May 19,1918. Why was she lynched? Because she spoke out about her husband who was wrongfully lynched the day before. When word reached Mary Turner that the same lynch mob that lynched her husband were planning to come after her, she attempted to flee. Sadly, even though she had fled, the lynch mob had caught up to her. What happened next is enough to break your heart and make your eyes well up with tears. 

When the mob reached Mary Turner, she was dragged and forced to the bank in Brooks County Georgia near the Folsom Bridge. There she was hung upside down by her ankles, doused with gasoline and lit on fire. As she cried and screamed, her belly was gutted and sliced open with a knife that was used to slaughter hogs. The eight month old baby she was carrying fell to ground and was only able to let out two whimpers before it’s head was stomped on and crushed. Shortly after that, Mary Turner was shot over a hundred times. 

Mary Turner’s charred and bullet ridden body was then cut down and tossed in a shallow grave with her deceased baby. The only thing that marked their grave was a whiskey bottle. When I read stories and watch documentaries such as this, I find it hard to believe how someone could do this to another human being just because of the color of their skin. I cannot imagine the fear and frustration that consumed so many Black Americans back then, yet so many endured it. 

Mary Turner, like so many other Black Americans, lost her life for speaking out against what she knew was not right. Was that a valid reason to take her life and that of her child? Of course not. 

Until next time… 

The Heartbreaking Truth About Slavery 

​The history of slavery is a very touchy subject for most Americans living here in the United States. It is also a very sore subject for most African Americans to discuss. We have all learned and heard of the unspeakable horrors that took place during slavery. It is enough to make anyone hurt and upset regardless of your skin color. If you ever seen a photo of a slave ship and how African slaves were bound and chained, it most likely broke your heart. No doubt the voyage was long and painful. Many of us would not be able to survive anything remotely close to what those slaves went through. It is mind boggling to think of all the African slaves that did survive such a difficult and inhumane voyage. 

Imagine yourself on that slave ship bound so tightly that you could not move or even go to the rest room. Eating a proper meal was out of the question. Most slaves were fed once a day and you know what that meal consisted of? Slops and scraps. Yes, these slaves were fed like they were pigs or animals. As far as a bath, that generally involved being doused with a bucket of cold sea water. Those who had deep wounds from the slave chains cutting into their skin no doubt felt the stinging pain from the salt in the sea water. 

The slaves who finally made it onto land were quickly sold and auctioned off. The slaves who did not survive the voyage were unchained and tossed into the sea en route. How sad. Husbands, wives, children, sisters and brothers were often torn apart at these slave auctions. Never mind their pleading and begging. Their cries fell on deaf ears. 

The beatings and mistreatment these slaves endured was unspeakable to say the least. Many were branded, had limbs broken or cut off, some of the men were castrated and we know what was largely done to the young women and girls. Beatings and whippings were the norm in slavery because that is what was used to punish and maim slaves. 

I cannot help but to wonder how slaves were often punished for “being lazy” when the United States was largely built on the back of slaves. As they worked themselves to the bone, millions of others reaped the financial benefits of their hard work. Their descendants are still reaping in some cases. What did these slaves get in return? A wooden shack, a broke down back and a life filled with poverty, injustice and pain. It does not take a rocket scientist to tell you who got the short end of the deal. 

Until next time… 

Caricatures 

​noun

1.

a picture, description, or imitation of a person or thing in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect.

Caricatures. I have never cared for them. Why? Because they are used to mock or make fun of others. Caricatures (in the beginning) were primarily used to mock and make fun of Black people particularly here in the United States. That I tell you is just a cold hard fact. Google it’s history and you will see that I am telling the truth. I see no need to lie or sugar coat it; it is what it is. Caricatures are very offensive and demeaning, yet they were used as a comedic effect to sell products at the expense of those they mocked. Believe it or not, a lot of money was made using these stereotypical caricatures. 

I remember hearing stories from my parents and grandparents how these caricatures would be all over TV and newspapers to advertise a certain product or products. Upon seeing them in museums and on documentaries as I got older, I began to understand why they found them to be so offensive. Visit any historical Black museum or watch any of the Black history documentaries this month and you will see exactly what I am talking about. 

Black people were often depicted with oversized big lips, huge noses, short stubby nappy hair and dumb. Yes full lips, broad noses and coiled / curly hair is a trait among Black people, but the way Black people were depicted in these caricatures is a far cry from how Black people really looked. As far as being dumb, well we all know that was something most of those racist poor souls liked to think to make themselves feel better. 

I saw a black history special recently that discussed how these caricatures are now very expensive antiques. There are some caricatures that sell for thousands and thousands of dollars for die hard collectors. Who would have thought that something so offensive would be worth so much of money nowadays. I guess they want to own a little piece of history. You will never catch me running out to buy one. I prefer to see all people in a positive light rather than a negative one. 

Until next time…