"I Wish to Inquire for My People"

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On January 1, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation making slavery illegal in the US.  Soon afterwards, newspapers such as the Southwestern Christian Advocate in New Orleans were flooded with letters and advertisements by freedmen searching for their mothers, children, and spouses who had been sold or disappeared, or who had fled the brutality of plantation owners.  These letters reveal no one ever adjusted to slavery. And the trauma the experience caused endured long after Lincoln’s decree. How does slavery continue to impact African American families today?



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Images courtesy of the Lost Friends Exhibition, the entirety of which can be viewed online.  Special thanks to Diaspora Hypertext for their post about the database in July 2015.

2 thoughts on “"I Wish to Inquire for My People"

  1. This post has evoked a question I never thought about coming from a family whose roots came from slavery. Slavery impacts African American families today because families still suffer from repercussions of slavery. Currently, there are issues within the African American community that have resulted from slavery that are continued to be displayed. These issues include fair access to education, policing, and affordable housing. Additionally, African American families feel a sense of urgency to correct these issues through peaceful social movements. When these issues are not corrected in communities, African Americans feel angry because they have been considered the “other” for a long time. Through gentrification, African Americans and other marginalized ethnicities are being isolated and segregated from the communities they once occupied because they cannot afford to live there. African Americans have to organize to have their concerns and voices heard in order to make effective change.

  2. There are many ways that the residual effects of slavery present themselves in the lives of African American families today. One of the most significant is the distorted mental self-image that many African Americans hold. In today’s society, we are perpetually told that African American history started with slavery here in the United States and Caribbean islands. Largely, we are systemically denied access and acknowledgement of our history prior to our enslavement. With very little knowledge of our great historical achievements and contributions to the world, many African Americans live a life of limiting self-beliefs. Through those mental constructs, proportional to other races, many African Americans don’t pursue high impact and high net worth careers such as educators, scientists, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, etc. This is just one effect… others include the lack of men in the African American family structure, the high percentage of European religious affiliations and values, colorism and the idealization of European standards of beauty and much more.

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