Monday, August 28, 2006
A Meltingpot Moment from the Past:Dreaming of Timbuctoo
Why is that we never hear about events in American history that show how Black people and White people have lived, worked and died together in harmony? What's the point of perpetuating the myth that this country has always been segregated with Whites and Blacks throwing flames of hatred towards one another at a constant rate? If we knew how much we've worked together in the past, would that fuel our desire to come together in the present? I hope so. That's why we try to tell the real multi-culti truth here at the Meltingpot.
So here's a meltingpot moment I just learned about.
Who knew that in 1846, a wealthy White man named Gerrit Smith decided to give away 120,000 acres of his land in upstate New York to African-Americans (40 acres each) so they would have the right to vote (Only landowners could vote), a parcel of land to farm, and a chance to crawl out of urban poverty in New York City. Three thousand Black men took Smith up on his offer and formed one of the first African-American communities in the Adirondacks and called it Timbuctoo. But that's not all. It wasn't just Black people living in Timbuctoo, White abolitionists like John Brown, believed in Smith's mission so much he and his family moved to Timbuctoo to help the newcomers settle in and make a go of living off the land.
To learn more about this fascinating time in American history, check out: http://www.nyfolklore.org/pubs/voic29-1-2/exhibit.html And keep your eyes and ears open for America's real meltingpot moments.