Uncovering the Stories

Black members of Congress Charlotte Forten Robert Smalls Harriet Tubman WEB Dubois Booker T Washington
  1. Black members of Congress
  2. Charlotte Forten
  3. Robert Smalls
  4. Harriet Tubman
  5. W.E.B. Dubois
  6. Booker T. Washington

When one delves into the untaught history of The Reconstruction Era one learns about many successes achieved by and with formerly enslaved Africans: freedom, citizenship, and the right to vote; a large number of formerly enslaved Africans (before the emancipation) who joined the Union Army to fight for the freedom of others; an estimated 2000 men who were elected and served in local, county, state, and national governmental bodies; the establishment of sixteen traditionally Black Colleges and Universities; public and private schools, celebrated teachers, scholars, lawyers, doctors, business people including many self-made wealthy entrepreneurial families: farming techniques not the least of which was organic farming which is being reinvented today; and so much more.  

Uncovering these stories, celebrating the hidden successes, and integrating them into our history through our educational system will lead to better understanding and hope for often seemingly hopeless children who do not know role models in whose paths they can follow.

While scholars have uncovered, through extensive research, many of these people and their stories, we have just pierced the surface and must mobilize to gather this collective history that just might change fear to hope for many.

Unfortunately, following Reconstruction many of these stories were erased, businesses were destroyed, a rich African heritage -- much of which survived slavery -- was crushed by hate and fear, and pitting people against each as property and lives were needlessly lost through acts of violence.

If we want to restore the Union, these stories must be told. We are supposed to be “One Nation Under God with Liberty and Justice for all.” Today we are far from that, but we can fulfill this promise by working together.

I challenge each of us to dig into our past, face up to the good, the bad, and the ugly, learn our stories and listen to the stories of others so we can integrate everyone's story into our Nation’s history.

This is a high mountain to climb, and it is not a one-day journey. It may take a generation or more. But, but more than the Band-Aids that temporarily cover wounds, we can heal the broken soul that lives on our conscience and through our actions today.