There is a petition going around to repeal the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Don’t try clicking it. It won’t take you anywhere.
Even if you don’t know anything at all about the Constitution – there is some pretty good stuff in there – you know about the Second Amendment. That’s the gun one. The one where the proto-Americans dropped that line about a “…well regulated Militia.” and then said, “Fuck it. They’ll figure it out.”
For some folk, those lines are the most American syllables ever uttered. Others look the same way a lot of Christians look at the lines in the Bible that advocate slavery and good old fashioned stoning.
Is it reasonable to raise arms once you realize your country has become a tyrannical state? One pithy Facebook guy suggested that the the Red Coats are long gone. Problem solved. Militia now moot.
But long before the Red Coats were driven from our shores, Africans and Native Americans in the United States lived in a tyrannical state. And that threat remained after the Constitution was ratified and the Red Coats climbed on their boats and got the fuck out of Dodge.
Below are four of examples of African Americans who raised arms to fight against tyranny. You should know, I’m just scratching the surface. If you click on the photos, they will take you to more detailed stories. Not, it wasn’t always State sponsored. Sometimes, it was just State approved.
The Christiana Rebellion: This one took place not far from where I grew up. Christiana Pennsylvania is where the rich, proper talking folk who work in offices in Philadelphia, go after the sun goes down. In 1851, however, it was a community where folks who had escaped from slavery went to find peace. And William Parker, ex slave and current farmer/ Underground Railroad conductor, wasn’t afraid to fire shots, to make sure that the free stayed free.
When slave owner Edward Gorsuch came to Parker’s farm, looking for his former captives, he shouted, “I will have my slaves, or perish!” And not surprisingly, he didn’t live through the day. Parker and his men shot the slave catchers down.
The Greenwood Section of Tula Oklahoma, AKA Black Wall Street: You probably already know this one. A tyrannical mob attacked the wealthy, Greenwood section of the city, burning it down within the course of about 24 hours. People know the tragedy. The bombs dropped, the lives lost. But in that telling, people gloss over one thing. Remember, it erupted after about 100 Black men went to the courthouse to make sure that another young Black man didn’t swing from a rope. Tulsa wasn’t just a tragedy. It was our 300. Our Alamo.
Rosewood Florida: The tragedy of Rosewood was much like Tulsa and countless other towns. It began with allegations of rape and ended with the destruction of an entire town. During these situations, law enforcement either stood aside or joined in.
People fought back as they retreated into the swamps, but one story stood out. Samuel Carrier aka Mr. Man. His tale was alluded to in the movie Rosewood, but his real life was more epic. And more tragic.
New Orleans, post Hurricane Katrina: This last one are for those people who feel compelled to shout, “That was soooooo long ago.” There are no heroes here. Sorry. But if you think that something like Rosewood or Tulsa couldn’t happen again, you’re kind of wrong.
Hidden amidst the survival stories of Hurricane Katrina, there were stories of roving mobs of men and women who shot Black men and women indiscriminately. They went by names like the Militia of Algiers, and as far fetched as they sound, there are video of them bragging about it. Add to that stories of police killings, and it is clear that the rising water wasn’t the only threat.
The British are gone. That doesn’t mean that there is no longer a threat. The top three stories clearly illustrate that the Red Coats weren’t the only Tyrants in America. Depending on the color of your skin or other things such as union or political affiliation, the threat remained well into the 50’s and 60’s. As the stories that emerged from New Orleans demonstrate, in some, very rare circumstances, it’s still here.