Let me begin this post with a relevant quote:
“Everyone falsifies history even if it is only his own personal history. Sometimes the falsification is deliberate, sometimes unconscious; put always the past is altered to suit the needs of the present. The best we can say of any account is not that it is the real truth at last, but that this is how the story appears now.”
~ Joseph Freeman
What more can be said regarding the teaching of history to the masses – I have to agree with Joseph to some extent. Well, let me start this series with a dark period of humankind’s history: The Slave Trade.
Personally, I feel that this subject is not taught enough in Western schools (especially in the UK) when compared to the constant exposure, through the media and education, of the Jewish Holocaust (which in it’s own rights is perhaps as bad as African slavery – although slavery lasted over 200 years with many millions of blacks being tortured or killed in the process) during World War II. It’s plain to see, that the subject of black slavery has been all but forgotten in the minds and conscience of those who disseminate knowledge to the rest of us.
Making the children and adults alike become aware of this terrible past would help to make us better understand what lasting affects that slavery may have caused (no matter how little) the later generations of black people, especially in regards today’s disillusioned black youth, who seem to suffer, more than most, from self-destructive problems.
Another important benefit of the teaching of slavery is that it may help in regards race relations by stripping away the many ignorant or racist views that somebody, who is not black, may have against the black culture in general – this would hopefully eliminate that old saying from their psyche “we fear what we don’t understand”.
My only guess for the apparent concealment of this particular moment in history is that maybe the countries who profited from this most heinous of crimes are either embarrassed or, what should be more the case, ashamed of their past actions – or maybe there is another suspect reason.
In any case, there should be no excuse for this exploitative period of evil, which was carried out so systematically by Western powers, not to be included in the curriculum. These aforementioned powers, made up of white European and Anglo-American imperialists, invaded, plundered and pillaged the African continent, which was most profitable at the time.
It has to be said that these so-called great empires and their citizens would perhaps not be in the privileged position that they now find themselves if it wasn’t for the blood and sweat of captured slaves, and the many bountiful treasures and precious resources that were stolen from the lands of Africa.
A True Revolutionary Against Slavery
A lot has been said about British politician and philanthropist William Wilberforce who championed the magnificent cause towards the abolition of slavery, but little do most of us know that it was actually a black victim of this abomination who was the true revolutionary.
Nat Turner, a deeply religious slave and controversial figure, inspired the first of many rebellions against the white slave masters in 1831. All it took was for a simmering sense of injustice to boil over and a divine sign for Turner to then carry out his own version of retribution.
This is where the controversy lies with Turner’s choice of vengeance, where he and a few other black slaves that he could muster used any instrument they could find as a weapon of violence. What followed was a short but bloody episode in which every white man, woman and child that Nat and his small militia came across were not spared, as they were slaughtered mostly in their sleep.
Turner, however, was eventually captured and brutally executed, so to act as a severe deterrent against other would-be “Nats”.
I won’t go too much into the moral questions regarding Turner’s actions, but all I would ask is for you to first put yourself in his chains and mindset. You may then find that Turner’s violent reaction was most understandable given the desperate circumstances of being stolen from his homeland, and then treated with constant indignity whilst being chained up, worked and beaten like a wild animal.
Some would say Turner was nothing but a violent religious fanatic; and others would argue that he was an inspirational hero for justice and the emancipation of his people. But despite all that, nobody can deny that this proud, enslaved and religious man had some influence on the rest of the slave population and, eventually, the abolitionists themselves.
“Possession” Award-Winning Nat Turner Short Film
Watch the following video to learn about the forgotten but important story of Nat Turner:
Read part 2 of the series: ‘History Lessons of Truth (Part 2): Untold Black History – The Moors And Black Americans’.