Martin Delaney, (May 6, 1812 – January 24, 1885), was one of the first proponents of Black Nationalism. He was also one of the first Black Americans admitted to Harvard Medical School. Folks I discovered this gem of a man just the other day! Dr. Delaney treated cholera suffers during epidemics in 1833 and 1854, in 1854 he stayed to treat the afflicted while other physicians fled the epidemic. Martin was born of a free mother(the children took their mother’s status) and an enslaved father. His circumstances were even more astonishing given the overt barriers he faced at the time. If one wishes to learn more about Martin, on has only to ‘Google’ his name. What particularly struck me about Martin was a speech he gave in ‘St. Helena Island, South Carolina, in July 1865’.
Here’s some gems contained in his speech:
“If I had been a slave, I would have been most troublesome and not to be conquered by any threat or punishment. I would not have worked, and no one would have dared to come near me, I would have struggled for life or death, and would have thrown fire and sword between them.”
I was not taught about such men in school, were you?. As soon as I read this, I knew I liked this man!
“I am going to tell you now, what you are worth. As you know Christopher Columbus landed here in 1492. They came here only for the purpose to dig gold, gather precious pearls, diamonds and all sorts of jewels, only for the proud Aristocracy of White Spaniards and Portuguese, to adorn their persons, to have brooches for their breasts, earrings for their ears, Bracelets for their ankles and rings for their limbs and fingers. They found here (red men) Indians whom they obliged to dig and work and slave for them-but they found out that they died away too fast and cannot stand the work. In course of time they had taken some blacks (Africans) along with them and put them to work- they could not stand it-and yet the Whites say they are superior to our race, though they could not stand it. (At the present day in some of the Eastern parts of Spain, the Spaniard there (having been once conquered by the black race) have black eyes, black hair, black complexion. They have Negro blood in them!!) The work was so profitable which those poor blacks did, that in the year 1502 Charles the V. gave permission to import into America yearly 4,000 blacks. The profit of these sales was so immense, that afterwards even the Virgin Queen of England and James the II. took part in the Slave trade and were accumulating great wealth for the Treasury of the Government. And so you always have been the means of riches”
That’s the onset of white supremacy in a nutshell!
Only you were the means for your masters to lead the ideal and inglorious life, and to give his children the education, which he denied to you, for fear you may awake to conscience.*
Any one who claims there were no ‘awake’ black folks back then should think again! Perhaps they need a wake up call as there is nothing new under the sun.
Some Whites were present, and listened with horror depicted in their faces to the whole performance. Some said, “What shall become of us now?” And if such a speech should be again given to those men, there will be open rebellion.
Then as now, a black person or people seek to throw off the chains of white supremacy, scares the shit out of white people. Martin espoused economic freedom by way of individual or communal ownership of land and becoming self sufficient so as no to depend on the ‘kindness’ of whites and to gain true freedom.
My opinion of the whole affair is that Major Delany is a thorough hater of the white race and excites the colored people unnecessarily. He even tries to injure the magnanimous conduct of the Government towards them, either intentionally or through want of knowledge.
Folks this fool, critiquing Martin’s speech, sounds a lot like some white racist assholes I have come across on other blogs. This only confirms my contention that things haven’t changed that much but have more or less become covert. The macro aggressions have become micro aggressions or code. But it always comes down to the feelings and safety of white folks. Not once does this man give an inkling of understanding as to what this man is saying. Instead, Martin is corrected in the amount of money paid to the freed slaves! He is informed that the slaves are making 30 cents a ‘job’ not a day! Why they can make up to 90 cents a day if they work hard enough! Sound familiar? The old Bootstrap myth!
“My opinion of the whole affair is that Major Delany is a thorough hater of the white race and excites the colored people unnecessarily. He even tries to injure the magnanimous conduct of the Government towards them, either intentionally or through want of knowledge.”
Sounds like some of the arguments you hear from white people today! Criticism of whites =hatred of whites. I don’t know about others, but I got better things to dwell on than the hurt feelings of whites. Did this jackass expect the freed slaves to forget what they were subjected to generation after generation? Did he expect them to be grateful for the 30 cents a job, which was nothing less than a new form of slavery which would come to be called sharecropping? I suppose one could argue that ‘it was the times’ as an excuse for this white man’s obtuseness but how does one explain Martin’s militancy?
Oh, by the way, Martin was the first black Major in the U.S. army and instrumental in mustering thousands of black troops for the Union cause. He asked to lead these troops but was denied, instead they made him a major. What particularly struck me about this man’s views of events of his day, was they are not that much different than what is still present today, the presence of white supremacy albeit cloaked in covert systemic racism. I am not surprised that this man has been virtually unknown in society at large. It is a good thing I came across this article.
Dr. and Major Martin Robison Delany
There is nothing new under the sun!
A alternate fictional rendering of slavery
to that of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’.