The Half Has Never Been Told

p. 401

Frederick Douglass:

“let the black man get upon his person the brass letters US … a musket on his shoulder, and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth or under the earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizenship in the United States.”

p. 407

Booth: Lincoln’s announcement “means nigger citizenship. Now, by God, I’ll put him through.”

“Abraham Lincoln was either the last casualty of the Civil War or one of the first of a long civil rights movement that is not yet over.”

“At the same time, whites in southern legislatures were trying to keep the status of African Americans as close to slavery as possible, passing vagrancy laws to limit mobility, proposing apprenticeship laws binding black youths as unfree laborers in white families, and making troubling threats about bringing back the whip as cotton-picking rates declined.”

p. 415

“Compared to their dominance of US politics through much of the antebellum period, and their ability to consume disproportionate quantities of the fruits of antebellum national economic growth, the postwar southern white upper class achieved only a truncated triumph. Yet white folks still kept the black folks who tourled for them in poverty, forcig African Americans to take the implicit and expolicit insults of life in the Jim Crow South in silence, lest they die brutally at the hands of mobs with or without badges. No wonder so many African Americans saw no chance for freedom but to leave.”

p. 416

“Even when enslavers realized, in particular momemts, that enslaved people had created something else, an identity, a political unity, a common culture, a story, and a sense of how it shaped them and made them one, enslavers had forgotten, or willed themselves to forget. So people survived, and helped each other survive, and not only to survive but to build.”

“Survival, and this kind of survival, made victory possible.” …

“The political agenda that enslaved people developed, and that they exported in the words of survivors and runaways, was not assimilation, not manumission, but the destruction for the whipping-machine and everything that made it work, and the transformation of America into a place that would redeem its theft.”

p. 419

“The descendants of enslaved African Americans could do these mighty deeds for many reasons, but one root of every reason was this: those who survived slavery had passed down what they learned.”