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Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement…

Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the… (2008)

by Douglas A. Blackmon

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I am absolutely gobsmacked. This is a book every white person in the country needs to read. Count me among those who thought slavery ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. Of course, I "knew" about the long Jim Crow era - but I had no idea about how the South perpetuated slavery through peonage up until the 1950's really.

After reading Wildmon's book, I am awestruck by the courage that people showed to stand up for their rights - to the same education enjoyed by whites, to vote, to live where they pleased, to sit where they pleased, etc. I had no idea of the depth and breadth of the threats African-Americans lived under.

We owe Wildmon a debt of gratitude for all the research and work he put into this book. It was a difficult read, but I'm glad to have done it. I've gained a much greater understanding of the backstory to today's race relations in this country and more convinced than ever that I could never live in the South. ( )
  TerryLewis | Jun 12, 2017 |
Anyone who wonders why blacks have had such a difficult time after the Civil War needs to read this book. Slavery, although officially over, was not really gone. It was replaced by a different kind of slavery in many ways worse than the pre-Civil War days. It was a slavery that existed in parts of the South until 1945. This book is extremely well documented and very eye-opening. ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
I feel compelled to admit that I struggled with rating this book. On one level, it is wonderfully well-written; on another, it tells some of the most horrific stories I've EVER read...stories that would rival and surpass many horror novels. And they are all true.

Essentially, Blackmon tells in astonishing detail the use of the convict labor system in the deep South to essentially re-instate a kind of neo-slavery that drove the post-Civil War industrial boom. He does a great job of demonstrating the breadth of the problem while offering up a "thick description" of the particular history of convict Green Cottenham, who died as an prison laborer in an Alabama coal mine. Beginning with Cottenham, Blackmon then unfolds an entire network of corrupt judges, cruel sherriffs, and greedy businessmen that worked vigorously from just after the end of the Civil War until the beginning of World War II to negate all the hope and promise of the Emancipation Proclamation for the liberation of American slaves. He does a SUPERB job of explicating all the economic, social, and legal aspects of this outrage.

Perhaps one of the most important parts of the book is its conclusion where Blackmon traces the lineages of the companies that profited from the use of neo-slave labor in the first half of the 20th century. He then asks some hard questions about their moral responsibility for the actions of their corporate forbears, noting that companies are held responsible for parent and predecessor companies' ecological crimes...but not for the ways that it has profited from the use of convict labor. Blackmon explicitly says the book is not just a call for financial reparations; however, at the end of the day, he DOES raise that issue, while acknowledging the ambiguities and difficulties that would confront any such project.

The convict labor system is perhaps THE classic example from American history of what theologians call "systemic sin," every bit as dastardly and morally reprehensible as South African aparatheid (perhaps more so given our ever-arrogant claims of the moral high ground). At the end of the day, it is still the product of individual human choices, but we often forget that a system grounded in such sinful choices and dispositions cannot help but be itself "sinful"! And if salvation is, at its most basic, deliverance from sin, that must at some level include the dismantling of sin-laden social systems. Some evangelicals have criticized the renewed call for attention to social justice issues as somehow an "abandonment" of any meaningful doctrine of sin (e.g., blaming "the system" rather than holding people morally responsible); however, I think a book such as this goes a VERY long way to showing that most of those criticisms are short-sighted and ultimately untrue. Recognizing the "sinfulness of systems" is simply a recognition of how sin is "exceedingly sinful" (Rom. 7:13).

At the end of the day, this book deserves every one of five stars for how unflinchingly it reveals this dark chapter of American history and then proceeds to ask the very tough (but exactly appropriate) questions. It is a great book precisely because it is such a challenging book. If you want to understand the REAL nature of race relations in America today, this book is absolutely indispensable, in my opinion. ( )
2 vote Jared_Runck | Jan 13, 2017 |
This took me a while to get through, but it was well worth the time. Like most white Americans, I had thought American slavery ended in 1865 with the passage of the 13th Amendment. As this book makes clear, the old system of slavery was quickly replaced with a new system of convict slavery, where black people were seized on flimsy charges, convicted without a fair trial, and forced to work under horrific conditions to repay their "debt". That system wasn't effectively dismantled until World War II, when the federal government became concerned that it made America look bad internationally.

I was surprised to learn that some modern excesses of the legal system, like exploitative plea bargains, or bogus court fees tacked onto the nominal fine for a crime, have been around since the 19th century.

Also at least that old? White folks insisting that black people are treated quite well, and getting violently angry when anyone suggests otherwise. (For example, Teddy Roosevelt talked about a "square deal" for African Americans... and across the south, people were enraged at the suggestion that the current deal was anything less than square.) ( )
  lavaturtle | Jan 2, 2017 |
A wonderful and true book. The Wall Street Journal used to be a pretty good paper, with lots of stories about all kinds of things, but now owned by Murdoch it is another right wing rag. The author goes into all kinds of research about the slavery imposed by jerks like southern sheriffs and justices of the peace and corporations. Blackmon is a great writer and this is a needed book. It is a little repetitious in parts where the slavery is so outrageous, like Alabama. I am amazed that Ken Thompson, whom I knew when he was head of First Union, decided to come clean on the prior corporation's ownership of slaves; unfortunately, the surviving company, Wachovia, did not make it out of the recession. ( )
  annbury | Jul 19, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
“Slavery by Another Name”... exposes what has been a mostly unexplored aspect of American history. It creates a broad racial, economic, cultural and political backdrop for events that have haunted Mr. Blackmon and will now haunt us all. And it need not exaggerate the hellish details of intense racial strife. The torment that Mr. Blackmon catalogs is, if anything, understated here. But it loudly and stunningly speaks for itself.
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Slavery:...That slow Poison, which is daily contaminating the Minds & Morals of our People. Every Gentlemen here is born a petty Tyrant. Practiced in Acts of Despotism & Cruelty, we become callous to the Dictates of Humanity, & all the finer feelings of the Soul. Taught to regard a part of our own Species in the most abject & contemptible Degree below us, we lose that Idea of the dignity of Man which the Hand of Nature had implanted in us, for great & useful purposes.

George Mason, July 1773
Virginia Constitutional Convention
To Michelle, Michael, and Colette
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Freedom wasn't yet three years old when the wedding day came.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385722702, Paperback)

In this groundbreaking historical expose, Douglas A. Blackmon brings to light one of the most shameful chapters in American history—an “Age of Neoslavery” that thrived from the aftermath of the Civil War through the dawn of World War II.Using a vast record of original documents and personal narratives, Douglas A. Blackmon unearths the lost stories of slaves and their descendants who journeyed into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and then back into the shadow of involuntary servitude shortly thereafter. By turns moving, sobering, and shocking, this unprecedented account reveals the stories of those who fought unsuccessfully against the re-emergence of human labor trafficking, the companies that profited most from neoslavery, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:34 -0400)

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A sobering account of a little-known crime against African Americans, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today. From the aftermath of the Civil War through the dawn of World War II, under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests. With no means to pay these "debts," prisoners were sold as forced laborers to coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroads, quarries, and farm plantations. Thousands of other African Americans were simply seized and compelled into years of involuntary servitude. Armies of "free" black men labored without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and were forced through beatings and physical torture to do the bidding of white masters for decades after the official abolition of American slavery.--From publisher description.… (more)

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