Thursday, July 7, 2016

Uncovering the Truth

I was filled with company as I walked the path to class. Chris and Sam both by side, all of us in unison until my pace began to slow down like it usually does. I’m a slow walker compared to a lot of people but I believe it’s because they’re so tall. I could not even recognize Sam as he waited by the gates for Chris and I to meet him. We had completely overlooked him. He was wearing his black square frame glasses, t-shirt, and standing by the wall quietly. When we met him yesterday, he was wearing a button-up shirt along with khakis and no glasses. I felt bad overlooking him.

The walk over to the McNeil building was silent but comfortable. I trudged up the flights of stairs while they both passed me in a breeze. I kept telling myself it’s because they’re both tall; everyone taller than me is tall. Through the doors and in our seats we waited for the lesson to begin.

Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church
Today we had a guest speaker present to us. As an introduction to her lesson she made us do an activity together. We split into four different groups and received a packet of paper that were ancient copies of handwritten letters. She expected us to decipher the text writing exactly word for word as well as what we believe it’s about. Our group had figured out that it was George Washington who was writing a letter to his old friend in the northern states to see if he can keep an eye out for his runaway slave who escaped him. He heard that she was spotted around New York and wanted him to keep a lookout around there. Our group was right. We soon moved into her lesson about Ona Judge.

Ona Judge was the runaway slave who escaped George Washington. She was never caught while on the run. Her role was the go-to slave that Mrs. Washington would seek and was close to. Ona helped her get ready, assist her at her parties if needed; she really preferred her. The Washington’s had lived in the capital of Philadelphia where slavery had no longer existed. It was weird seeing slaves in a town where that no longer existed. But in this town, Ona had aa little bit more freedom than she has before. She was able to go out, watch a movie, etc. with just a paper written off by George Washington saying he sent her there. Soon those things were put at risk.

George and Mrs. Washington’s granddaughter was engaged an older man that they knew nothing about and she wanted his signature of approval so she would be allowed to. They signed off knowing she would end up doing it anyway because she’s a stubborn person. Mrs. Washington was concerned for her granddaughter and decided that the only way she knew she would be in good hands is if she gave away Ona to her as they moved back to Virginia. Ona didn’t want to be given away at all, mainly because she knew how difficult her granddaughter was and that her freedom was at risk. She was moving back to a state where slavery still was enforced and she didn’t want to risk losing it again in fear that she will never regain it. She finally had enough and escaped the Washington family and survived on her own.

George Washington had put out advertisements in the newspaper offering a ten-dollar reward for anyone who finds her disregarding their race as well as asking people for favors by keeping an eye out for her. She had fled to the north where slavery was no longer existent. George was using every loophole around the law to try and get her back. It has come to the point where Ona was found by Washington’s friend but he decided to help her instead of him because he wasn’t all for slavery. He passed on a message to George stating he had found her, but she refuses to come back unless he grants her, her freedom. George refuses and insists on her returning but she declines and disappears once more. They had spent the rest of their lives searching for her but never did. Ona ended up outliving both of the Washington’s and spoke out about her experience when she turned around seventy years old, by then, no one would want a slave of that age. With the help of other people, she was able to get married, have a family, and win her freedom for her entitled life. She was still never officially free and is a fugitive but she was able to take control of her own life and that’s what true freedom really is whether official or not.

Later in our discussion groups, we had discussed the topic of slavery within social justice. We were asked the question whether if slavery was ok to happen in order for the colonists from the south and north would combine to form the nation we have today? Some people believed that it was, sadly, because if they did not form a type of compromise while writing the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, they would not have been able to break away from England and form America. It would have been off to a harder start if they were arguing before even becoming an independent nation. If they had risked the South from joining, the country may not have had enough resources to build up and stand on their own independently. I was more on the opposing side of this.

Bust of Richard Allen
I believe that if we were trying to break from the European and British countries, then we shouldn’t adopt their ways or customs. Slavery had originally started in Europe. Taking that and allowing for the same thing to occur within their new nation does not make them any better than England. It was stated that the nation was formed as a way for freedom and rights to everyone. By everyone, that should include different races of people and women. If they are going to start off with a country made for freedom, they should live up to it instead of being hypocritical. It isn’t a free nation unless everyone is free. If they had demolished slavery while first making to Constitution, maybe there is a possibility that different races would have been accepted sooner and easier in our society.

Moving on from our discussion groups, we were about to embark on another field trip. Today we were going to Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church to see the Richard Allen Museum. Richard Allen was born into slavery as a young child in Philadelphia. He was separated from his family as they were sold to another owner in Delaware. He became the founder of the first A.M.E. churches. Allen was always helping others within the black community putting others needs first. Word began spreading around that he was help masking runaway slaves and protecting them. Slave catchers had come onto the grounds of one of the churches and seized him thinking he was a runaway slave, little did they know that he bought his freedom and remained free. He had help influence other great leaders and united a stronger black community.

Returning home I was still tired as always. The heat that was reaching over ninety degrees got to me all day. I was happy to fall into my bed with cool air from the AC drifting through my dorm air. I had so many responsibilities that I needed to fulfill so I decided to start with my laundry.

In the laundry room it was more humid than it was outside. I just entered and I was already struggling dealing with it. It took me around two to three hours to finish washing and drying my clothes that it took the rest of my energy for the night. I was happy to be done and over with my first load of clothes. I’m hoping that I can extend and make my clothes last throughout the next week, but who knows. Today was an interesting day where I uncovered new things that you can’t learn in school. I’m going to use this knowledge to my power as a way of preparing myself for my next year in AP US History.
Richard Allen's Tomb

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