Black lives didn’t matter to the British colonies that existed on this stolen land when, beginning August 25, 1619, whites formally initiated the enslavement of Blacks, starting with the 20-30 Kimbundu-speaking Angolan men, women, and children who had been kidnapped from the village of Ndongo in Luanda and sold, leased, and/or traded to perform brutal labor at Virginia Colony plantations.
Black lives didn’t matter to the vast majority of the signers of the Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776 when the Continental Congress officially voted in favor of a resolution for independence and two days later approved an edited version of that document on July 4th. But most of them didn’t sign it until August 2, which happened to be the date John Hancock prominently “graffitied” it. By the way, it wasn’t until November 19 that the final delegate signed it.
As an aside, I should mention that it wasn’t until 1777 that Congress, for the first time ever, even considered memorializing that historically pivotal July 2nd independence vote date from the previous year. But there was an embarrassing problem: Congress considered it two days late in 1777, which is why July 4th became the officially recognized date. I guess they were on WP time.
I said Black lives didn’t matter to a “vast majority” of the signers because, among the 56 wealthy white male property owners who autographed the Declaration of Independence, a whopping 75%- which equals 41 of them- were enslaving Black human beings!
Moreover, during the time the Declaration of Independence was voted on and completed, slavery was legal in each of the 13 colonies, which means 20% of the population — i.e., our ancestors — were being held in horrific bondage without a real life, without any liberty whatsoever, and without the pursuit of any happiness whatsoever.
Black lives didn’t matter to America’s Founding Fathers who led the battle cry against “Taxation without representation.” They contended that Britain’s requirement that they pay taxes without having any elected representation in Parliament would reduce them to the status of “slaves.” And they contended this while they themselves were enslaving Black people. If that’s not the height of historical hypocrisy, nothing is.
Black lives didn’t matter to Thomas Jefferson — the primary drafter of the Declaration of Independence — who enslaved 175 Black women, men, girls, and boys in 1776 and 267 by 1822. This is the very same Thomas Jefferson who was the racist pedophile that began raping Sally Hemings when she was 14-years-old and that impregnated her at least six times.
It’s also the same Thomas Jefferson who, as Governor of Virginia in 1779, signed a bill to encourage enlistment in the American Revolutionary War by compensating white men by giving them a “healthy sound Negro.” Furthermore, it’s the same Thomas Jefferson who wrote in his 1785 book entitled “Notes on the State of Virginia” about “the preference of the ‘oran-outan’ [meaning an ape-like creature] for... Black women over those of... [its] own species.” And it’s the same Thomas Jefferson who added that Blacks “are inferior to the whites...” and have “a very strong and disagreeable odor.”
Black lives didn’t matter to America’s wartime patriots despite the fact that more than 5,000 brave Black men were instrumental in leading the U.S. to victory over Britain by 1783. Why aren’t their names and biographies widely publicized? Maybe it’s because General George Washington initially barred free and enslaved Blacks from serving but changed his mind when the 13 colonies came close to losing the war. And maybe their names and biographies aren’t widely publicized because, after they had helped America win the war, many of them were thrown back into American slavery.
Nearly all of America’s history books still fail to mention that Crispus Attucks — the first to die in the so-called Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770, an event that began the violence that would lead to the Revolutionary War — happened to be in that city on that date because he was with a group of laborers on the waterfront. And that was because he was a professional seaman who had been on various ships for 20 years after having courageously escaped slavery. His courage stemmed from what he had learned from his African father and Natick “Indian” mother.
Black lives matter. They began mattering 200,000 years ago when the first human came into existence in the Nile Valley region of East Africa, which was 170,000 years before the first white human walked the planet. And Black lives mattered when Africans created algebra, calculus, and geometry in Egypt/Kemet around 1500 BC and also created most of the world’s greatest intellectual advancements such as astronomy, architecture, urban planning, nation building, medicine, etc.
Yes. Black lives matter. They mattered in the building of this country and its greatest facilities, including — but not nearly limited to — the White House in 1792, the U.S. Capitol in 1793, George Washington’s Mt. Vernon, Virginia Plantation/Estate in 1758, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Virginia Plantation/Estate in 1772, and New York’s Wall Street in 1652 (which was used as a slave auction site from 1711-1762).
Black lives mattered before, during, and after slavery.
But July 4th doesn’t matter. Not to woke Black folk. Never did. Never will.
The opinions expressed in his commentary are his. View more opinions on phillytrib.com.