Here’s Why That Never Happened.
Their Family Bought Land One Generation After Slavery. The Reels Brothers Spent Eight Years in Jail for Refusing to Leave It.
— Read on features.propublica.org/black-land-loss/heirs-property-rights-why-black-families-lose-land-south/
A fraternity brother of mine recently shared this story with me. What a profound black history story about (freed) African-American men who served as defenders of Natchez, Mississippi, in the Union Army from 1863 to 1866. This, after many were previously slaves at this same location in one of the largest and most active – site of the South’s second largest slave market in the 19th century – slave markets in the South and one of the largest in the United States.
NATCHEZ, Miss.–For the 30 years it existed in the 1800s, Forks of the Road was where white dealers sold black slaves unloaded from riverboats docked at Natchez-Under-the-Hill and herded down St. Catherine Street to what was then the town’s outskirts, according to historical accounts.
At its peak, as many as 500 slaves could be found at the market on any given day. It’s believed to have been the second-largest slave market in the South; the biggest was farther down the Mississippi in New Orleans. The two biggest traders shipped more than 1,000 slaves from Alexandria, Va., to the two markets each year beginning in the 1830s. Trade at the Forks of the Road ended only with the Civil War.
The last newspaper advertisements for slave sales at the Forks of the Road appeared in the Natchez Daily Courier during the early months of 1863. All slave trading had ceased in Natchez by the summer of 1863 when Union troops occupied the town. Today, the historic intersection, with its familiar “Y” configuration, remains to mark the location of the once-flourishing slave markets at the Forks of the Road.
During the Civil War, Natchez remained largely undamaged. The city surrendered to Flag-Officer David G. Farragut after the fall of New Orleans in May 1862.Two civilians, an elderly man and an eight-year-old girl named Rosalie Beekman, were killed when a Union ironclad shelled the town from the River. The man died of a heart attack and Rosalie was killed by a shell fragment. Union troops under Ulysses S. Grant occupied Natchez in 1863; Grant set up his temporary headquarters in the Natchez mansion Rosalie.
Volunteers began to respond, and in May 1863 the Government established the Bureau of Colored Troops to manage the burgeoning numbers of black soldiers. By the end of the Civil War, roughly 179,000 black men (10% of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army and another 19,000 served in the Navy.
There were so many upsets in this past mid-term election, that it’s hard to keep up with them all.
This story, the story of Lucy McBath stands taller than any of the others in my opinion. Never in a thousand years would I have thought Georgia’s 6th District would go blue. The racial makeup of the county in 2010 62.2% White, 25.0% Black, 0.3% Native American, 4.5% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 5.3% from other races, and 2.7% from two or more races. 14.3% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are several reasons why I marvel at her success by winning this Congressional seat in “red” state Georgia during last year’s mid-term.
First, if you don’t know her story behind why she chose to get into politics in the first place, you should know it because it’s so profound it gives you goose bumps. Her son was brutally murdered at a gas station, while with some of friends, by a white man who said their music was too loud. The shooter used Florida’s stand-your-ground law as his defense. He was not found guilty of murder in his first trial. In an October 2014 retrial, the shooter was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Second, to choose to run in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia was about a gutsy as anything a black person could think of. The 6th District, is an affluent suburb North of Atlanta in Cobb County, mainly white. My old district when I lived in Cobb County Georgia. It’s Newt Gingrich’s old district, Tom Price’s old district, the disgraced Health and Human Services Director appointed by trump. It was always held by a white male until Karen Handel in 2017.
The story of Karen Handel is unflattering to put it mildly. While I was living in Georgia, I followed her and her politics very closely. Briefly, Karen Christine Handel Walker; businesswoman, politician, and member of the United States House of Representatives for Georgia’s 6th congressional district. In 2017, she became the first Republican woman from Georgia elected to Congress after defeating Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff in a special election to fill Tom Price‘s vacancy in Georgia’s 6th congressional district; this special election remains the most expensive congressional race in American history. In the recent 2018 election, Handel lost the election to a full term to Democrat Lucy McBath.
Handel previously served as Secretary of State of Georgia. A member of the Republican Party, Handel worked in business before entering politics. First elected in 2003, she chaired the Fulton County Board of Commissioners until 2006, and then was elected and served as Georgia’s Secretary of State from 2007 to 2010.
In 2011, Handel was appointed Senior Vice President of public policy at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a charity in the cause of fighting breast cancer, and left on February 7, 2012, following the foundation’s controversial decision to eliminate and then later restore funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization to which she was opposed. Handel sought a second term in the 2018 midterm elections but was defeated by Democratic challenger Lucy McBath.
Finally, to beat Karen Handel after Handel trounced John Ossoff in the special election this year for Tom Price’s old seat, is nothing short of miraculous to me. John Ossoff was a great candidate and ran a great campaign, but even he couldn’t unseat Karen Handel. Never in a million years would I have thought that district would go blue, not to mention going blue with the seat being won by a black woman. The districts demographics haven’t changed believe it or not. It’s still predominantly white and Republican. What has changed is obviously the number of forward-thinking white voters who decided – in this year of the women – to look beyond their past political biases and cast their ballots for the (best) candidate. This is very encouraging to say the least.
My only regret is that voted in the district for thirty years and never, nor did I think I would ever have, the opportunity to vote for a man or women of color with the hope of them winning. It took courage – inspired in part by the tragic death of her son I am sure – for her to run and answer her calling to do something to try and help make a difference in our society’s woes.
Now a newly appointed member to House of Representatives 116th Congress Rules Committee by the Honorable Nancy Pelosi and twice elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. How awesome.
My new hero, Lucy McBath.
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