8 of the Biggest Myths Propagated About Black American History


Black People Were Better Off in America

Many historians have argued that slavery somehow saved many Black people from the primitive “Dark Continent” of Africa. Yet, Africans were succeeding far before European intervention. Black History Month: Debunking the 10 Biggest Myths About Black History, released by thegrio.com in 2012, argues that “we will never know what Africa would have been today without the disruption of slavery and colonization.” Before Europe’s presence on the continent of Africa, dynasties and civilizations characterized by wealth and power could be found throughout the continent. The article continues on to convey that “one cannot begin to put a price tag on what the separation of families, loss of cultural ties and lost wages has cost the black community.”


James Earl Ray Killed Martin Luther King Jr.

Children across America have been conditioned to believe that James Earl Ray assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Yet, evidence has shown that the FBI and other government agencies could likely be responsible. Records show that the bullet that killed King did not match Ray’s confiscated gun, King’s security guards were told to leave about an hour before the assassination, and the FBI, in 1968, attempted to persuade King to commit suicide in a letter. This notion was better proven when, in 1999, William F. Pepper won the case of The King Family v. Jowers and Other Co-Conspirators. According to a Dec. 9, 1999, New York Times article, the trial concluded that governmental agencies of the United States of America were guilty of the wrongful death and assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


George Washington Carver Only Invented Peanut Butter

Carver was not merely “The Peanut Doctor.” While he did discover over 100 different uses for the peanut, he was a brilliant botanist, chemist, inventor, scientific researcher and artist. Born during the Civil War, Carver transcended the oppressive social structure to become the first Black student to attend Iowa State University. He was later hired by Booker T. Washington to run the agricultural department at Tuskegee Institute. Under Carver, the department produced pioneering research pertaining to plant biology and helped to maintain financial stability among the sharecroppers in the area. Carver was also a member of the British Royal Society of Arts and an agricultural adviser for President Theodore Roosevelt.


Abraham Lincoln Fought to Free Enslaved Blacks

The notion that President Abraham Lincoln waged the Civil War for the sake of ending slavery has been widely accepted. Yet, the ultimate goal of the war was to preserve the Union, not to emancipate the enslaved Africans of the nation. In fact, during his 1858 debate with Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln said the following: “I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which in my judgment will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong, having the superior position.”


Slavery Did Not Dehumanize Enslaved Africans

Many historians, as well as filmmakers, have led many to believe that the institution of slavery was not as brutal as one may think. However, this Gone With the Wind fantasy is a fallacy. The very basis of chattel slavery showed that Europeans did not value Black people’s lives and did not treat them as human beings. A 2012 article posted on thegrio.com argues that, “as the master’s property, blacks had no rights under the law, and could be beaten, raped or otherwise abused without recourse.” Furthermore, the overall death toll of slavery confirms that Europeans deemed Black lives as worthless. The late R.J. Rummel, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii, conservatively estimated that between 1451 and 1870, 17,267,000 enslaved Africans lost their lives. Various scholars have estimated the death toll was much greater.


Slavery Ended in 1865

Despite the efforts of the Civil War, the release of the Emancipation Proclamation and the addition of the Thirteenth Amendment, slavery, in its literal meaning, didn’t end until well into the 1960s. This is wholly attributed to the fact that the legality of slavery is literally engrained and embedded into the law of the land, the Constitution. Section I of the Thirteenth Amendment reads as follows: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. The very law that was said to free the slaves was used to re-enslave them. In his book, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, Douglas A. Blackmon expounds upon the system of convict leasing. Under this system, nearly every Black person charged with a crime, whether a child or an elder, disappeared into the convict leasing system and was subjected to work that was identical to the hard labor that characterized American slavery. Oftentimes, those of the convict leasing system were set up and convicted of crimes they had not committed. Millions of Black people were thrown into the system, and many served lifelong terms.


Black People Sold Each Other into Slavery

Many state that Africans contributed to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade by selling their own into slavery. Yet, the European manipulation that motivated this act is often left out when the story is told. Others argue that some Africans had no choice but to enslave their own due to European’s control of coercive instruments, such as guns. In addition, an article published bycolorlines.com asserts that “even though African monarchs did collaborate in the selling of Blacks bodies into slavery, what happened after that was the establishment of a heinous and brutal system that rested squarely on the dual pillars of White supremacy and ruthless capitalist greed. There was nothing African-inspired about it.”


Black People Didn’t Join American Forces Until World War I

Black people have fought in wars since the beginning of American history. In fact, they fought wars as early as the American Revolution. According to a report introduced by the National Park Service, while 5,000 Black soldiers fought in the side of the Americans, 75,000 to 100,000 fled to fight for the British. In addition, the National Archives confirms that roughly 180,000 Black men fought for the Union Army during the Civil War.

Read more:  http://atlantablackstar.com/2015/06/01/8-biggest-myths-propagated-black-american-history/


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