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Archive for December 22nd, 2015

amazing cover

by Sam Juliano

When Barack Obama was elected to the presidency in 2008 the nation was set on an uncharted course.  The commander-in-chief was the first African-American to hold the highest office, and of course the first to be parented by an African.  Obama  had a white mother, making his the first mixed race chief executive.  For those marveling at his ability to overcome the long odds, and achieve what many considered a political miracle, they need to go back in the history books to find something far more transcendent.  John Roy Lynch, who lived into his ninety-second year was reared as a slave -he, like Obama was of mixed race with his father of Irish decent and his mother a black slave.  The father was an overseer who died prematurely of illness, leaving behind his wife and two sons including John, but more importantly the plan he had devised to insure their freedom.  He left his possessions to a close friend, one who ended up balking on his benefactor’s intentions.  The wife Catherine, John and his younger brother remained slaves.  This lamentable turn of events seemed fated, and it resulted in a baptism under fire for the boy.  His extended his period of domestic incarceration, though the time brought him to a resonant understanding of the system of degradation that eventually led to the Civil War.

The aptly titled The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate tells a story of a person who is not only able to deal with and survive the oppression of an era that left his kind with zero opportunity for advancement, but how he  took full advantage of some long-shot opportunities to climb the political ladder to an eventual election to the United States House of Representatives, only ten years after his tenure as a teenage slave.  Lynch’s plight and redemption can be seen as a Cinderella story, but its ramifications helped ignite a freedom spark during the dark days of reconstruction, a time for the barbarous mistreatment of blacks by southern Klu Klux Klan members and those who never took kindly to to the destruction wrecked on them by the hated northerners.  Southern whites took out their hatred on blacks, who in Mississippi were given titles like”apprentice” and “vagrant” to keep them in bondage.  Vengeful whites were able to make good on their hate agenda where it counted most – on the grass roots level.  Barton asserts in the narrative that  “sometimes hate-filled whites dealt out penalties far worse than what the laws called for” including murder.  Not until the freedom marches of the early 60’s did the southern blacks gain a measure of acceptance, but of course even then locals took the law into their own hands, extending their prejudice to unwanted visitors.  In the 1988 film Mississippi Burning three young civil rights workers -two blacks and one white-  travel to the state to assist in the voting registration of minorities, but are murdered in Jessup County by a sheriff-led detail at night after they are pulled over. (more…)

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