So, in between book writing, I decided to do some light reading in the form of a biography on Denmark Vesey, the mastermind behind the largest slave rebellion in the history of the U.S. And, my God, have we been robbed by not learning this history.
In truth, I became curious after doing some light research on Vesey for my book, where I am showing a big part of why it was illegal for black people to read was fear that literacy made enslaved people more rebellious, and then tracing rebellions led by literate enslaved people.
The little I read made me so fascinated, I went ahead & ordered David Robertson's biography & I am folding over every single page. Vesey, who read and spoke several languages, who'd purchased his own freedom after winning the lottery, was free but never removed from the enslaved.
I know some of you have ambivalence abt voting tomorrow. I know your timelines have been flooded with folks saying people died for your right & it's disrespectful to squander it. They're right. But in the abstract, maybe it is hard to grasp. So, I'd like to offer some detail.
In 2014, I traveled to Mississippi, my ancestral land, for the first time in my life in order to document the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, a deadly and violent few months aimed at bringing democracy to the blackest state in the nation. It was a transformative experience.
The Civil Rights Movement had gotten traction in other areas -- desegregating lunch counters and libraries -- but when it came to in voting in Mississippi, the year may as well hv been 1880. Ths was especially so in my dad's hometown, Greenwood, where blk vastly outnumbered white