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Remembering The Colfax Massacre
The Ugly Side of Racist History Must Never Be Repeated in America
COLFAX, La.- As this nation continues basking in the sunlight of the historic election of the first Black U.S. President, one cannot neglect the fact that some in this nation are paranoid that the torch of power has been passed and that an African-American occupies the White House.
Those disgruntled Americans feel that regaining that torch of power by any means necessary is the number one priority.
It is troubling to think that some of those same crazed maniacs believe conflict and taking power back by force are the only options.
That is one of the many lessons learned from one of the most tragic accounts in American history that unfolded 136 years ago in Colfax, La.
On Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873, that lesson became all to real as deadly violence erupted in Colfax, Louisiana.
The White League, a paramilitary group intent on securing white rule in Louisiana, clashed with Louisiana's almost all-black state militia.
Over 100 black men were killed on the Grant Parish Courthouse grounds in the encounter. Of those, nearly half were murdered in cold blood after they had already surrendered.
Federal officials arrested and indicted over 100 white men. They were later freed, however, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the basis for their prosecution (part of the 1870 enforcement act) was unconstitutional.
It represents the ultimate sample of how dangerous it is to ignore problems and discussions on race relations in America and demonstrates how things can quickly get out of control.Post civil war stress and issues allowing Blacks freedom, access to leadership and taking on arms and serving in militias became a major igniters of the troubles.
According to information from the Congressional Record, House ofRepresentatives, 44th Congress, 2d Session, Ex. Doc. No. 30, "The Use of the Army in Certain of the Southern States" (pg. 436), at the end of the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organizations had been growing in strength in the South.
Prior to the war, white Southern Democrats had enjoyed a great deal of governmental power. But, when the war ended, Democrats were no longer powerful.
Northern Republicans controlled the nation's government. They placed federal troops in southern cities to keep that control and southerners deeply resented this imposition.
Two laws that Southern Democrats hated were the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.
The Fourteenth Amendment granted citizenship to blacks and declared that no state was to deprive them of "life, liberty, or property." The Fifteenth Amendment prevented a state from denying the vote to any person because of their race.
Together, these laws guaranteed blacks equal citizenship.
Southern Democrats, however, feared that blacks would not only vote Republican, but would be considered equal to their white former masters.
Conflicts between Republicans and Democrats in Louisiana were particularly frequent in 1872.
That year, the state election produced two governors, both claiming to be the legitimate one.
When the federal government supported the Republican governor by sending federal troops to Louisiana, the white residents of the state refused to cooperate.
Louisiana whites formed their own "shadow" government and their own army, the White League.
The White League, similar to the Ku Klux Klan, intimidated and attacked Republicans and blacks all over the state.
The worst violence occurred in Colfax, but other incidents were sparked in Coushatta, when the White League murdered six Republicans, and in New Orleans, when thirty were killed and one hundred more wounded.
In response to these incidents and others throughout the South, President Grant ordered federal troops to restore order, but most of the relief was temporary.
The incident once again showed President Ulysses Grant how hard it would be to guarantee the rights and the safety of blacks in the South.
The Colfax Massacre is an account that must be shared, told, never forgotten and a fate that can never be repeated or allowed to happen again.
Much of the Colfax massacre was motivated by racism and the paranoia of confederate veterans and KKK members and White extremists took up arms against Blacks and murdered because they vowed to maintain White supremacy by refusing to accept changing times and government decisions from the U.S. president.
The murders are a solemn and grim reminder that even today hate mongers, separatists, extremists, supremacists and others are garnering food, weapons and ammo. What are their motives?
Is there another Colfax Massacre looming in the near future as right-wingers and supremacists convinced that power in America has slipped from their grips?
Why are they gathering their arms? Is it to make a statement?
After all, Radio Personality Rush Limbaugh and several leading Republicans, including a governor from Louisiana, are praying that President Obama fails.
Those very public statements should not be taken lightly.
Spreading that same kind of foul message and gloom and doom preceded the Colfax incident.
African-Americans must not fall asleep at the wheel on this.
Colfax-type racial conflicts and violence are possible in 2009.
We appreciate the efforts and thank The Committee to Commemorate the Colfax Massacre Victims for sponsoring the annual tribute to honor our Black Ancestors at Colfax.
Their efforts each year at the Grant Parish Courthouse help keep the truth flame burning and maintains correct historical perspective and conscience needed to help America see and understand the evils of racism.
Three books have also been written about this event including, Red River, The Day Freedom Died; and The Colfax Massacre.
For more information on Colfax contact:
Diana Kimble at 318-627-2759..firstname.lastname@example.org(214-708-1122 cell) or Odinga Kambui 214-908-1707 - email@example.com