Coping: MLK Day and America’s Dirtiest Secret

imageThere is a reason today is a Holiday:  America has secrets as dirty as the gas chambers of Nazi Germany,  the Bataan Death March, or the genocides of Cambodia.

The difference is?  We don’t like to talk about our dirty secrets.

It’s important we do; we can lie to other people, but not to ourselves.

Saturday, a group of your fellow humans got together in Slocum, Texas, to commemorate a 20th century race war in southern Anderson and northern Houston counties.  White people went on a rampage killing black people.  The year was 1910.

The commemorative group was not welcomed.  Residents of Slocum put out Confederate flags, but the gathering went on.  A historian, or two, an author who studied the event, even  a film producer considering a project.  But no mainstream media.  A week ago the local paper announced Saturday’s placement of an historical marker.

The Saturday gathering commemorated The Slocum Massacre.

The what?

Most folks have never heard of the event. In fact, if you go looking for it on Wikipedia, it doesn’t even have its own entry. 

That’s how America’s dirty secrets work:  America doesn’t like to talk about its ugly side.

Still, at the bottom of the Wikipedia city entry for Slocum, Texas, you’ll find this:

In late July 1910, between 14 and 25 [1] people were murdered by a large mob. Although the exact number of residents slaughtered is not known, estimates are that more likely some 200 people were killed. (Source Needed) The victims were all African-American; the mob of 200 to 300 people [1] was all white. Before the massacre, the majority of Slocum’s several hundred residents were black; afterward, many black residents of Slocum fled the town, losing real estate, homes, and other assets that they had to leave behind.[2]

Several events may have sparked the attacks. After a black person was lynched nearby, rumors spread among whites that blacks were planning revenge. Also, a scuffle broke out over a business disagreement between a white and black resident, and many accounts say a man named James Spurger instigated events by claiming he was threatened by blacks.[2]

Once the attacks began, Anderson County Sheriff W. H. Black reported, “Men were going about killing Negroes as fast as they could find them, and, so far as I was able to ascertain, without any real cause”.[1] All known victims were unarmed and most were shot in the back;[2] no whites were injured.[3]

Spurger, Reagon McKenzie, S.F. Jennings, and at least 13 other white men were arrested for the attacks,[4] but none were ever tried. The victims’ land and possessions were also seized.

I’m guessing the local residents this weekend put out Confederate flags because some are occupying land the white mob participants allocated to themselves in the wake of the murderous rampage. 

One person, who attended the event, noted:  “If we ever repealed the Civil  Rights Act, segregation would be back in place in much of the South in 24-hours – if that….”

I’d argue the point, but I can’t.  There are businesses even now that I won’t trade with because of the “old boys” who are part of the continued festering.

Which gets us to why today is a holiday:  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the leading advocates of real equality.

Along with that comes the hard truth that most Americans don’t like to be reminded of:  Namely that although the Civil War decided the issue of slavery, it failed to end inequality in people’s hearts.  Reconstruction only worked a bit and only on the outside

You’ll still see Dr. King’s work attacked as plagiarism.  That somehow warrants its own Wikipedia page while the Slocum Massacre does not. This kind of thing gets noticed, although that’s not my main point.

Forty-five years after the supposed end of the Civil War, hundreds of blacks in America were hunted down and variously lynched, murdered, or burned alive at the stake.

At this weekend’s event in Slocum, word spread of a newly found mass grave from the period being recently located.

The landowner involved is reported to have been asked if the mass grave held a rumored 15 victims?  The reported answer was “15?  Hell, there must be 50 of ‘em…

When asked if forensics specialists could open the grave? Reports went this way:   “No, this is MY property.  And ya’ll don’t come on MY property without permission.” 

Old wounds don’t heal that way.

Author E.R. Bills has collected the ascertainable facts of the case in his book  1910 Slocum Massacre, The: An Act of Genocide in East Texas (True Crime)If I may quote from the book for a moment:

“According to an NAACP study entitled “Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889-1918” (published in April of 1919), 335 lynchings were reported in Texas in that time period, and 78 percent of the victims were black.”

Of course that’s only the lynching part.  That doesn’t include the untallied deaths by gunfire, beatings, knifings, not the burned out homes, or lynchings in the woods that were never found, nor any of the rest of mob violence.

Now it’s one thing to be critical of a black president on grounds of his too liberal stance on immigration and failure to enforce America’s borders.  Or picking a war with Syria, or failing America at Benghazi, or making another pass at gun control.

Yet President Obama is held up, in much of the South as an example:  But Barrack Obama doesn’t represent all black people any more than Jimmy Carter represents all white people.

My point this morning is this:  The Popular Delusion in America persists that the Civil War is over.

It’s not.

The evidence argues that the Civil War did not end with a “peace.”  Only an armistice; just like the Korean War ended –  a cease-fire but not a durable and lasting peace. No deep reconciliation.

Most of the year we enjoy our digs here in the East Texas Outback. However our labeling of this place as the “outback” is very honest, indeed.  You may wish to read on the massacres in Australia’s frontier wars – events that killed hundreds of aboriginals there.

Roots of such tragedies run deep.  They’re still alive today.

Every time a racist email is forwarded, a stereotype invoked, a slang word repeated, jokes based on race, or equality denied, the real Reconstruction – the one of the human heart –  is pushed back another year.

Around here, all souls weigh the same.  We don’t generally talk about core beliefs much, here in what’s left of America. Our interests run more to economics and being able to “keep on keeping on…

But that, dear reader, is why today is a Holiday. 

Write when you break-even,



39 thoughts on “Coping: MLK Day and America’s Dirtiest Secret”

  1. Thanks for a bit of an education today George, much appreciated. I know we have our secrets, but I hadn’t heard about this one.

  2. Thank you, I never knew about that part of our history.What a shame that after living on this planet for some 6 thousand years we still can’t manage to get along.

  3. Thank you for your column. I used to watch Amos and Andy as a kid but you can’t find those episodes any longer. Maybe things are changing.

    • I have most of the episodes. I keep them because they are an important part of history and need to be preserved. You can find them if you know where to look.

      I find stereotypes but little actual racism. They sound far worse than they are, and we’ve just gone off the deep end on PC crap.

      I don’t watch them because I really don’t like sitcoms.

  4. Thanks George, great article, but please Obama is a mulatto, not a black. Why is this overlooked and downplayed? He has self identified as black rather than embracing his mixed heritage and thereby discarding its potential to heal and unite rather than divide. Just sayin.

    • Yeah, I just say he’s a white man, he’s as much white as black. And you are right, he does not and has not spent any time ‘bringing’ people together, he has divided this nation.

  5. Thanks for writing this article. When times get tough, the trend is to look for scapegoats and this is a good reminder of where we have come from. Time is at hand to go forward with positive changes.

  6. History isn’t the only thing we sanitize. Leaders -whether political or social- are also lionized when they least deserve it. Martin Luther King was no Saint. As great social reformer, but certainly no paragon of virtue. One need only read some of the FBI files [or listen to wiretaps] on this man to know how corrupt he really was while espousing the virtues of God. And, our history is replete with such distortions, including every President.

  7. You’re damn right it’s still going on! Currently there are some nut-case criminals camped out here in Oregon wanting to give the Federal land back to the ‘original’ owners – that in itself is problematic at best, but the ‘fun part’ relating to your very good report is that these wannabe patriots don’t think that the Native Americans qualify as the ‘original’ owners . . . and the western United States is just for ‘ranchers’? They must think we all got dropped on our heads!

    • Out here in Oregon, the ‘nut’ cases reside in government offices and allow Federal nut cases to burn alive cattle, feed and homes, and beat up old Native American’s and disregard the law; the governmental nut cases, with help from non-governmental nut cases, (out here in Oregon) are trying to herd the ignorant masses into believing that carbon dioxide is not a vital necessity or a nutrient and that we are all guilty of spewing it for no good reason and must pay through the nose and our arses, and give up arms and legs.

      Even living history loves leaving out the truth…’wanna be’ patriots are far preferable to ignorant, untruthful, followers of mass media spewage.

      Today, I was thinking of offering up my cattle and a bunch of wood to Salem so that the lawless makers of law could see, hear, smell and participate in the burning alive of cattle as proof that they really do support BLM’s illegal, abusive and criminal activities. As an old, partial Native American, I could offer myself up for beating and abusive man-handling so the Oregon ‘governor’ could applaud and show her support for BLM.

      I eagerly await the explanation I asked for from the FBI as to whether their list of what they investigate is real and if so, are they investigating Oregon State Government and BLM they are in bed with.

      Yes, I do believe most people have been dropped on their heads and their heart crushed via social engineering, or by other devilish designs.

    • MDS – it is obvious that you at least got dropped on your head, repeatedly. 70% of the west should not belong to the federal government.

      • Do your research yourself!! In Oregon the amount held by the United States is 53 percent, and the grazing rights (and profits) of said property are shared by all citizens of OUR country, not just a select few. Un-regulated grazing of cattle in land set aside by Theodore Roosevelt over a century ago and held in trust for environmental purposes is not going to accomplish anything but further damage to the land held in common by all Americans. I am tired of ‘crack-pot’ theories backed up by ill-thought out reasoning. In Oregon the percentage is 53 percent!

  8. The winners write the histories…and the winners never make themselves look bad in their own histories. Pick any nation, race, religion or empire in human history and you”ll find the same ‘trend’.

    e.g. native Americans seldom or never tell about their own depredations against one another, or about the ‘many and several’ wars between tribes. It was always the other tribe that was the bad gut in their own histories.

    You cannot find a human culture where this is not true.

  9. Thanks for enlightening. What I still fail to understand, though, is how, in 100 years time, technology has advanced so far yet humans on the planet haven’t. How, in today’s high tech world, people still discriminate JUST because of the color of skin. Just goes to show that we really haven’t gotten any smarter. Our cars and phones have, but people haven’t.

  10. Back in the early days of Texas, riding out into the nether regions to hunt and shoot Mexicans was considered a sport.

    The last black lynching in the USA was in 1949. They literally came to a stop when black veterans returning from the war started arming their friends and families in 1946.

    When economic times get difficult, it is human nature to scapegoat some group, so racial tensions always rise.

    And shame on you George, for mentioning gas chambers in Europe. There is no evidence of gas chambers in any of the camps. The real holocaust in Germany was the millions of Germans who died after the surrender, in American custody, ordered by Eisenhower who was a Jew, but disrupted by Marshall, Eisenhower’s superior, when he badgered the congress into passing what was known as the Marshall plan to end German starvation.

    While stationed in Germany, I met several Germans who hated cornflakes, because American cornflakes was the only thing they had to eat for a period after the war. But they were all grateful to Marshall and what he did.

    • To keep it real here, and to keep from going off on an anti-Semitic track, while it is true that President Eisenhower’s father was Jewish, he was not – and was raise after his mother’s faith: (from Wikipedia):

      His parents set aside specific times at breakfast and at dinner for daily family Bible reading. Chores were regularly assigned and rotated among all the children, and misbehavior was met with unequivocal discipline, usually from David.[20] His mother, previously a member (with David) of the River Brethren sect of the Mennonites, joined the International Bible Students Association, later known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Eisenhower home served as the local meeting hall from 1896 to 1915, though Eisenhower never joined the International Bible Students.[21] His later decision to attend West Point saddened his mother, who felt that warfare was “rather wicked,” but she did not overrule him.[22] While speaking of himself in 1948, Eisenhower said he was “one of the most deeply religious men I know” though unattached to any “sect or organization”. He was baptized in the Presbyterian Church in 1953.[23]

      • Who exactly is a Jew, then? By nationality or as you imply just a religion? My mother is Jewish by nationality then I’m at least half Jewish, right? Am I missing something?

  11. As a 7th generation Texan, from the cusp between the west, south, Great Plains and Northern Mexico, I find this map and associated book to be spot on:–/YXBwaWQ9c3JjaGRkO2g9MjE1OTtxPTk1O3c9MzE2Nw–/

    My roots are mainly in the areas of Texas which voted against secession in 1860. Then fought like wild men in the Civil War. The Klan was broken by Dan Moody in the County Courthouse a block from my ancestral home, but that county represents the cusp between the Old South and the West, culturally and geographically. It is within the “Appalacia” bit on the referenced map. I have always been uncomfortable in East Texas and the South. As an adult the reasons have become clear. So many of the sharper knives in the cultural drawers have left small towns and moved to big cities, for so many generations, and so many others have moved West, that, frankly, inferior subcultures have gained in power and prominence in much of the “Outback”. The contrast is even greater after living in larger cities, including Houston, in the East. Racial integration of middle class neighborhoods was a fact in Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, and parts of Dallas/ Fort Worth and Austin, by the late ’80s, though all those towns had and have ghetto areas as well. But, get East of I – 35, outside large metro areas, and racial segregation is probably worse now than 30 years ago.

    To be fair, I think it is a two way street, but seeing the fact that it persists is the first step we need to take. Black friends reliably inform me that things are much worse in the East, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Oakland. I don’t know what to do about this, but maybe we could start by not punishing intact families, earning money while using the social safety net, and expecting minority and lower class white kids to fail in school and life, and coddling them through their failures, instead of raising expectations. Then we could look at unregulated immigration stealing low wage jobs and other resources from the underclasses.

    George is right, though. All of us need to look into our hearts, learn to see the beautiful souls which inhabit every human body, limited by the muffled perceptions, illusions, and limitations of those bodies. A spiritual Renaissance is essential. Or as Jesus said, love one another.

  12. @ Pepper D

    Maybe it has been our focus on the holy grails of “technology”, “efficiency” and “progress” that has simply disallowed us to mature and evolve past a lot of this nonsense about cultures ans skin tones.

    The real truth is that most everyone I have ever met in my travels has the same basic desires – to protect their families and try to build a better life. Indonesia, Colombia, Egypt, China – people are so very similar that you have to search out the differences.

    That’s probably why there are the same grocers, pharmacists, farmers and mechanics around, no matter where you go on the planet. Differences exist, but there are multitudes more similarities.

  13. “Getting along” is not in our genes nor in our psychological makeup, killing is, thus the need for “golden rule” and “The 10 Commandments”, I’m afraid all to no avail.

  14. There is no getting around the fact that slavery and the brutality that happened after the Civil War has been a terrible heritage for our country. The fact it happened to one race of people, rightly gets the greatest attention. But this has been happening in this country since it’s inception to anyone that is different. You can look at almost every ethnic or nationality group that migrated and see terrible things that happened. You can look at different religions and see the things that they were subjected to. Look at the Mormons, as an example. They were killed, women were raped and property taken. They relocated to save themselves from the different states, that encouraged state sanctioned “extermination”.
    Fear of the unknown, fear of people being different, and the historic issue of greed or feeling that you should have what the person you consider to be less than you, has.
    We have come a long way from where we were those many years ago. I think that many hearts have been changed regarding race, religion, and those that are different. I think to position that we haven’t made some significant strides is at best disingenuous.
    The problem really is forgiveness. Its when people hold on to the past as an anchor to ascribe to the present, where things never heal. Or when people use the past as an excuse for their perpetuating hatred, brutality or racism.

    • Do some research into how Mormons treated non-believers within their own territory…and more than a few believers, as well. ;)

  15. For a very good review of Georgia Black History, please read GCO Special Report: Disarm the Negros – the Racist Roots of Georgia Gun Laws . You can find the link at GEORGE, HYPERLINK DID NOT PASTE

    In 1868, Georgia had The Camill Massacre, the first of many Massacres in Georgia. From the Copyrighted article:

    “Camilla Massacre – Birthplace of the Public Gathering Prohibition
    On September 19, 1868, several hundred blacks and Republicans, nearly all armed with muskets and shotguns11, marched 25 miles from Albany to Camilla Georgia to protest the General Assembly’s expulsion of 32 newly elected black legislators. The elected black legislators were expelled on the grounds that the right to vote granted in the state constitution did not include the right to hold civil office. As the marchers arrived at Camilla’s courthouse, they were ambushed by a posse of white townsmen organized by Mitchell County Sheriff, Mumford Poore. The Sheriff’s posse continued its assault on the marchers as they fled into the surrounding woods, killing and wounding them as they tried to escape. One of the fleeing blacks, Daniel Howard, was struck in the head with the butt of a gun while fleeing. He was forced to return to Camilla where he overheard the whites lamenting that if only the freedmen had come without arms, the whites would have surrounded the blacks and killed them all. Over a dozen blacks
    were killed and more than 30 were
    wounded in the massacre.”

    In 1870, the GeorgiaLegislature passed a law banning weapons at churches or at public gatherings. Of course, this would only apply to black public gatherings in the future since all white public gatherings would be deputized.

    Today, our neighborhood is integrated, but our society is not. LBJ’s The Great Society has created a lower class of blacks destined for life in unmarried poverty and separation. I don’t have or know the answer, but Our Federal Government has not done these individuals any favors. And they are soon to be joined with another immigrant undreclass to feed the corporate demand for economic slaves. MLK’s “I have a Dream” is as ephemeral as most dreams. I pray for the best, but prepare for the worst.

  16. “When the black man is angered, entire neighborhoods burn. When the white man is angered, entire continents burn.”

  17. If you compare the current black vs. white murder rates, you’ll see that on average, blacks kill 200+ more whites than whites kill blacks annually. So blacks are getting more than their massacre revenge each and every year.
    2011 Statistics:
    Whites murdered by blacks: 448
    Blacks murdered by whites: 193

  18. These aren’t just in the past. Just this past week, a biracial family felt so threatened from 4 messages posted to their home threatening to kill them because of being biracial, they have moved. This happened not in the south but in Salem, Oregon. If it’s not blatant, then it’s barely under the surface. BTW: the messages were signed “watching you, KKK” They showed them, all four on the news.

  19. George, No matter where you want to look in history you can find a group or race of people that did wrong to another group. No group is exempted. So what is your point? Is it white guilt? If you feel guilty then find a group and give them your money.

  20. We often hear the phrase “untimely death.”In MLK’s case-for his family at least-was very timely.Had he lived and maintained his public positions,he would have been pushed aside by the more radical elements and be mostly forgotten today.

  21. When Morgan Freeman was asked about how to reduce the racial tension in the USA, he responded: “Stop talking about it.”.

    I don’t know if anything will truly heal racial tensions, but the last 8 years of talking about it appears to have made things worse. Trying to ban the Confederate flag, an important part of our history regardless of its racial overtones, is definitely not the right approach. I think this is one issue that will resolve in its own time, and can’t be forced.

    Heart healing is difficult, and I do hope and pray it will happen. I have many friends of other ethnicities and we generally acknowledge that reality, without dissecting it to death. Racisn is similar to agism and sexism – realities that will exist to a degree no matter what. I’m told there is an adversarial relationship between blue eyed and brown eyed Mexicans……..

    Happy holiday and generous hearts to all.

  22. AMOS & ANDY is available on DVD for anyone who wants to watch it. It’s quite a good sitcom for its day and its “racism” is considerably less blatant than that of later shows such as SANFORD & SON. It feels very much like watching ANDY GRIFFITH or DENNIS THE MENACE. Old. Pleasant. Not in any way insulting.

  23. I can’t believe this! You people need to seriously look at yourselves! Every single one of you, especially, especially, George Ure, has made every effort not to live in a predominantly black area, so that you are safe. Look at yourselves, you have done everything you can to make sure you don’t live anywhere near the black neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, New York, Cleveland, Detroit. Admit it!

    Can we get some truth here? All of us, including myself, including you, don’t want to live in high density black areas. We are all racist. Some of the racism that we have is probably immoral, but there are human instinct reasons why we feel threatened, by people who are threatening. Why, why, can’t we admit the truth, and address it?

    • Ure lives where he does based on cost per acre, inches of rainfall, and a consumption (sales) tax instead of a top-line grab. Do the math.

    • Hello there: Our family lives in Bergen County, NJ and truth be told, the 3 “high density” white neighborhoods we lived in prior to this were quite unwelcoming. We’ve been harassed, totally disrespected, and threatened. Not only by our “neighbors”, but law enforcement during area travels, causing us to move each time. Once it was “discovered” that my husband is a resident at the state’s largest trauma center, attitudes changed for some, but not most. So imagine feeling afraid due to skin color, natural hair, labelled a drug dealer because of condo values or rental rates etc. And who should be afraid? A “fancy” vehicle is a threat to your life if you are Black while driving in a “high density” white area, no matter one’s socio-economic status. These are facts…we are living them. How about this truth?

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