Physically, he was jet black in complexion and was known to say, according to the famous historian Benjamin Quarles, that he was different from Frederick Douglass who thanked God for making him a man; Delany thanked God for making him a black man. There was something he felt in the nature of the black man’s spirit that had come from the pressures of enslavement that made him adaptable, resilient, and willful. These were characteristics that made him proud of his race.
Identity was important to Delany as it is to most people. He knew something about his own origins, but, like most Africans who had been forced into bondage and who had lost their language, Delany could not go beyond a few generations. But he held onto what he had. Names had often been stolen and thrown away into the thin air of anonymity by the slave trade itself.
Delany’s grandfather had been enslaved but the family had managed to make its way to Pennsylvania where Martin Delany began to make his own history. He devoted his time to reading, to studying, and to demonstrating the capability of the black man. He saw himself as the equal to any other man. After two hundred and fifty years of subservience this was something that challenged the thinking of blacks.
Delany managed to edit a newspaper, studied medicine at Harvard until he was asked to leave, explored the Niger River in West Africa, accepted a commission from Lincoln to become a major in the Union Army, lived in South Carolina and run for Lieutenant Governor, amassing an impressive vote. Projecting himself always as the representative of his people, despite the fact that he found himself between the Republicans and Democrats and had to abandon South Carolina, he finally settled in Ohio and was buried in Wilberforce.
Who Invented Memorial Day?
May 25, 2012 | Updated Jul 25, 2012
Jim Downs Historian and Author
As Americans enjoy the holiday weekend, does anyone know how Memorial Day originated?
On May 1, 1865, freed slaves gathered in Charleston, South Carolina to commemorate the death of Union soldiers and the end of the American Civil War. Three years later, General John Logan issued a special order that May 30, 1868 be observed as Decoration Day, the first Memorial Day — a day set aside “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land.”
At the time, the nation was reunited politically, but it remained culturally divided, and so did Memorial Day observations. In the North, the federal government created national cemeteries for men who died in the war, while state governments from New York to Michigan gradually made Decoration Day an official holiday throughout the 1870s. In the South, from April to June, women dressed in white and knelt beneath statues of fallen Confederate leaders; they told stories about the men who appeared in portraits lining the walls of many Southern homes. By the early 20th century, as Americans faced enemies abroad, many of the surviving Civil War veterans recognized their shared wartime history and reconciled their differences — turning Memorial Day into a national holiday.
As America recognizes the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, we would do well to revisit the origins of Memorial Day among freedpeople in Charleston. While they honored those who fought for their emancipation (which also celebrates its 150th birthday this summer), it was not simply a moment of great triumph and celebration for freedpeople, but a complicated process that led to the unexpected death of hundreds of thousands of former slaves.
While former slaves venerated the staggering number of Union soldiers who died during the war, few have observed the ways in which war and emancipation led to the astonishing mortality of many ex-slaves. Former bondspeople liberated themselves from chattel slavery and entered into an environment that was plagued by cholera, dysentery, and yellow fever — devastating nineteenth-century illnesses for which the medical profession knew no cure, and from which the poor and the marginalized suffered disproportionately. One of the most often-forgotten facts among the public displays and memorials about the Civil War is that the vast number of soldiers died from disease and sickness, not from combat wounds or battle — in fact, the war became the largest biological crisis of nineteenth-century America.
In their journeys toward freedom, ex-slaves often lacked adequate shelter, food, and clothing. Without the basic necessities to survive, freed slaves stood defenseless when a smallpox epidemic exploded in Washington in 1863 and then spread to the Lower South and Mississippi Valley in 1864 to 1865. A military official in Kentucky described smallpox as a “monster that needed to be checked,” while another federal agent witnessing the “severity and almost malignancy of the epidemic” believed that the virus was on the increase and predicted that “before the coming summer is over it will decimate the colored population.” In the end, the epidemic claimed the lives of over 60,000 former slaves, while other disease outbreaks and fatal epidemics raised the death toll of freedpeople to well over a million — more than a quarter of the newly freed population.
When historians describe casualties of the war, they uncover photos of mostly white enlisted men — bodies strewn across an image of a battlefield or, worst, piled on top of one another in a deep ditch, dead from the effects of a cannonball explosion. What we don’t see is dead freedpeople. The death of white participants in the Civil War is both valued and commemorated: framed as part of a larger saga of war and victory, and then propped up as the heroic embodiment of nationalism on Memorial Day. White people’s death is reenacted annually by thousands of people-who, for a hobby on a holiday weekend, get to play dead.
There was no rebirth for former slaves who died of disease and sickness after the war. There was no chance of them coming back to life in a costume worn by an admirer a century later. Buried under the fallen cities and the new harvests, the South, at its foundation, is a graveyard: a place where black people died in unimaginable numbers not from battle, but from disease and deprivation.
In the recognition of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, let us not forget that freed slaves created Memorial Day. Let us remember that their prayers and observations were not just for the deceased Union soldiers on that first Memorial Day, but also for members of their families and their community who died in a war that was meant to free them.
Jim Downs is the author of Sick From Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering During the Civil War and Reconstruction (Oxford U.P., May 2012). He is an associate professor of history at Connecticut College and has a MA and PhD from Columbia University.
all across the Afrikan Nation the occupying Union Army - supposedly the “saviors” and “emancipators” of Afrikans - invaded the most organized, most politically conscious Afrikan communities. In particular, all those communities where the Afrikan masses had seized land in a revolutionary way came under Union Army attack. In those areas the liberation of the land was a collective act, with the workers from many plantations holding meetings and electing leaders to guide the struggle. Armed resistance was the order of the day, and planter attempts to retake the land were rebuffed at rifle point. The U.S. Empire had to both crush and undermine this dangerous development that had come from the grass roots of their colony.
In August, 1865 around Hampton, Virginia, for example, Union cavalry were sent to dislodge 5,000 Afrikans from liberated land. Twenty-one Afrikan leaders were captured, who had been “armed with revolvers, cutlasses, carbines, shotguns.” In the Sea Islands off the south Carolina coast some 40,000 Afrikans were forced off the former plantations at bayonet point by Union soldiers. While the Afrikans had coolly told returning planters to go - and pulled out weapons to emphasize their orders - they were not able to overcome the U.S. Army. In 1865 and 1866 the Union occupation disarmed and broke up such dangerous outbreaks. The special danger to the U.S. Empire was that the grass-roots political drive to have armed power over the land, to build economically self-sufficient regions under Afrikan control, would inevitably raise the question of Afrikan sovereignty.
National Alliance (Algiz or “life rune” with laurels)
National Socialist Movement
Volksfront (also appropriate Algiz Rune)
Blood & Honour (logo features “Rolling Sevens”/triskele favored by white Afrikaner racists.)
Ku Klux Klan
Creativity Movement (formerly known as “World Church of the Creator.”)
Vinlanders Social Club
White Aryab Resistance
European Kindreed (heavy presence in Oregon prisons.)
Celtic cross (appropriated by racists to signify white pride.)
SS bolts (used by members of the SS in German 3rd Reich)
Totenkopf (”Death’s head” symbol used by the SS)
Skrewdriver (A popular band in racist/”RAC” music)
Rock Against Communism (Abbreviated as “RAC”, a far-right and racist music genre.)
Sample Neo-Nazi codes:“14/88″ stands for the fourteen words, a racist motto (”We must secure the existence of our people and the future of white children.”) plus 88, an abbreviation for “Heil Hitler” (”H” being the eighth letter of the alphabet, so 88 = HH) “WPWW” stands for “White Pride World Wide”
‘A Forum: Free All Afrikan POW’s: The Fight Against COINTELPRO’, May 19th Communist Organization, Chicago, 1978. Benefit for National Taskforce on COINTELPRO Litigation and Research featuring Afeni Shakur and Chokwe Lumumba.
Applejack is Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, Fluttershy is National Revival of Poland, Pinkie Pie is Russian National Unity, Twilight Sparkle is Golden Dawn, Rarity is Noua Dreaptă, and Rainbow Dash is Magyar Hajnal.