- Faith & Family
There was once an old white woman that lived on a slave plantation. In the middle of the night she said to a runaway slave that was hiding in her barn, “Shh, don’t say a word because if massa hear us we [both] be dead.” The Underground Railroad was born — America was at a crossroads. Soon after, the Civil War broke out, Congress passed the Confiscation Act of 1861 which stated that any property used by the Confederacy, including slaves, would be confiscated by Union forces. In effect, slaves became the property of the federal government — at least until the slavery was abolished. As America
entered the era of reconstruction it reached another crossroad. During this time, the southern states were required to reorganize and were reintegrated into the Union. The 14th and 15th Amendments were passed, giving Black men an opportunity to participate in the American politic of this country — some were even elected to public office. But that era was short lived, particularly in the South with the Compromise of 1877 which through constitutional amendments and electoral laws, stripped Blacks of many of the gains they had just won. The result was the establishment of Jim Crow — America again was at a crossroads.
Discrimination and lynching became Blacks’ greatest fear — and most frequent reality. Blacks were fed up and sought ways to legally change things, even if it required death. The civil rights movement had begun and America was at still another crossroads. No other movement has had such an extended impact on American society — Blacks and other disadvantaged groups would be the primary beneficiaries.
The movement of civil rights has been adopted as a metaphor for so many people and issues, probably due to the success of the movement itself. But undeniably the civil rights movement is rooted in the struggle of Blacks in this country and even with the election of our first Black president, our victory has yet to be achieved — America is once again at the crossroads.
Henry Crespo, Sr., is vice chairman of outreach for the Miami-Dade Democratic Party.
By Henry Crespo, Sr.