Thanksgiving is not that easy a subject to explore with students. The genocide of the Native Americans and Slavery, were part of an early American holocaust The bones of enslaved Africans which were recovered from the 17th Century graves in lower Manhattan are etched with cranial fissures and fractures. These markings tell the tale of the abuses inflicted on the Africans during their enslavement. The Africans were literally were worked to death. And like all of societal ills, this must be addressed as mandated by the New York State Assembly.
Malcolm X once said the following. “We didn’t land on Plymouth rock, Plymouth rock landed on us” We might agree with Malcolm X, if we took a closer look at colonial New York. Certainly, we would see how the enslaved African was caught between a “rock” and a hard place. He was trapped in a foreign environment which he did not choose. Unlike the Pilgrims, the Enslaved African was a part of: a forced immigration to America.
The violence inflicted on the African in America, past and present, is a part of American History. The African Burial Ground is now a testament to the heinous way the living and dead were treated. Disrespected in life and later in death the enslaved African’s remains tell the sorrowful tale. Certainly evident is the fact that the early Africans in America were used, abused, and destroyed. Even today, many skeletal remains of Africans are still buried underneath the buildings and streets of lower Manhattan.
Today the African in America is still the victim of wanton acts of violence in their communities.Today New Yorkers are aware of the names of the unarmed black males who were killed by New York City Police: Eric Garner, Kimani Gray, Amadou Diallo, Ousmane Zongo, Timothy Stansbury Jr., Sean Bell, and Ramarley Graham. Time has not erased the memory of the 41 bullets that were used to kill Amadou Diallo in 1999.
There were other unarmed victims of police brutality all across the nation. These black men met a similar death as police opened fire on them: Michael Brown, John Crawford, Gregory Towns, Travis McGill, Wendell Allen, Alonzo Ashley, Victor Steen, Oscar Grant, Kendric McDade, Timothy Russell, Ervin Jefferson, Patrick Dorismond, Orlando Barlow, Arron Campbell, Steven Eugene Washington. Time has not erased the memory of the 137 bullets that were used to kill Timothy Russell in 2012.
Last year, all eyes were on Ferguson, Missouri. President Obama stated that Ferguson should not be used as an excuse for violence. He is correct. Violence begets violence However, until there is justice there is little hope of peace. Change has got to come! Equity and access to all the rights and privileges in America must be afforded to all of its citizens. And if justice is allowed to” flow down like a mighty stream”, perhaps peace will follow.
Phyllis C. Murray resides in Scarsdale, NY.