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We Were Slaves: Be Proud of Our Heritage and Strength

A slave entertaining children.

A slave entertaining children.

We Were Slaves™

My story does not come from Africa. It originated there generations ago, but my story was born in Woodville, TX. My heritage is from slaves. For years, society made me embarrassed about this heritage, but I am done with that!

My ancestors built this country and talk about your hostile working conditions. The more I read about slaves, the more I appreciate their resilience and their ability to survive. It started with the journey to the America's. We do not know how many died on those trips. We do not know how many ended up as shark food. We know about the rapes of women. We know about the starvation and the diseases.

We know about the dehumanization that took place in slave markets. We know that they whipped freemen within an inch of their lives to make them slaves. We know about the work that slaves did to build this country. We built the infrastructure that is America.

We survived. We went on to survive 100-years of the destruction our bodies, our homes and businesses. Lynching was a common practice and no one paid the consequences. Riots, before 1965, consisted of whites running through black neighborhoods and burning stuff. People ask me all the time, "Why haven't black people prospered like other groups." Well, because for a century you burned and looted our properties. Then you took that property without consequences. Many blacks who fled the South during the Great Migration, were running for their lives.

So, black people understand your strength. Despite terrible odds and groups who wanted to destroy us, we are here. Despite having our souls traumatized, we are here. Despite laws whose design was the destruction of our people, we are here. Despite rape and torture, we are here.

They called us lazy. They called us thieves by nature. They said that sex controlled us. They called us brutes. They called us bucks and bitches. Yet, we are here. They chopped off our feet, mutilated our lynched bodies, and still, we are here. Stop believing it.

We are survivors. Through this, we created a country. We created music that serenaded generations. We built the first clock in America. We invented the Cotton Scraper that revolutionized the cotton industry. We built the first crop reaper and never got the credit. We invented a boat propeller that helped shipped goods arrive on time. We invented a steam engine large enough to drive a warship. This was during slavery. We would go on to perform the second open-heart surgery.

We Were Slaves™. It is time that we proclaim and embrace our past. It is time that we help America understand our contribution. It is time that we see ourselves and our slave heritage as a credit to our resilience. We are Americans and, yes, WE WERE SLAVES™.

Own it. Claim it. Embrace it. Because we survived it. We thrived despite it. Our culture is the cloth that is wholly American. Slavery is America's shame, but it is and should be our crowning glory. We made her rich and the country she is today. It does not matter what others believe or say. It does not matter that they deny slavery and its brutality. All that matters is that we recognize the strength that it gave us. That we use that strength and teach our children their heritage. We Were Slaves™ and I am proud of it!!!

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