The Lesson of Liberty in American Slavery

I recently watched the movie Harriet about the black Moses, one of the most courageous women in American history. The movie is powerful, and I recommend it.

It showed the desperate dependence of plantation owners on the institution of slavery for their economic survival and societal status. It portrayed the extraordinary cohesiveness of slave families. It touched on the ability of slaves to wear one mask for the masters and one for trusted family and friends. It showed that some slaves, like Harriet Tubman, risked everything for liberty.

Those who struck out for freedom faced beatings, torture, mutilation, or being “sold down the river” to a worse situation. When Harriet made her first return trip south to free her family, her husband, believing she was dead, had married another woman. He said to her, “You left me. You went alone and left me.” There it is. In the end, the will to be free is a personal choice.

Harriet’s answer came later in the story when she confronted her former master during her final Underground Railroad journey. He said, “You could have stayed with us.” She retorted, “I reasoned that there was one of two things I had a right to: liberty or death.”

Given the history of Americans of slave descent, it is ironic that most today have allied themselves to a Democrat Party whose policies amount to a modern form of slavery. It offers guaranteed minimal subsistence and perennial treatment as an inferior victim. It disintegrates their families, denies their children a quality education, and a recent Harvard/Yale study showed that liberals condescend to them as inferiors lacking intelligence.

In one of the film’s scenes, when Harriet tells a black Underground Railroad colleague that she wants to return south to rescue her family, he admonishes her, “Rescuing slaves requires skill and careful planning.” After pointing out that she could not read signs or maps, he concluded, “There’s nothing more you can do.” In a flash of anger, she replies, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do. I made it this far on my own... So don’t you tell me what I can’t do. You don’t know me.” She returned to the south on the first of many journeys to rescue slaves.

While I never faced the life or death struggle of Tubman, I can relate to her frustration with others setting limitations. When I was about to apply to Harvard Law School in 1974, my liberal college professors told me not to get my hopes up about going to Harvard because “black people don’t score well on the Law School Admissions Test (“LSAT”). It is culturally biased.”

I was screaming on the inside, “Don’t you tell me what I can’t do! You don’t know me!” I was not raised to be a victim. I was not taught to lower my expectations and ambitions to conform to how others saw me. It was a vision for her future that liberated Miss Tubman, not obsession with the past.

I was taught by my father that the future would be what I choose to make it. I was an A student in college, Phi Beta Kappa and graduated Summa Cum Laude. I did quite well on the LSATs, without the lowered standards of race norming which rob black people of what can only be earned -- respect. I was accepted to Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Berkeley and every other school to which I applied.

Sadly, many in the black community have internalized the limitations the Democrat Party’s philosophy has placed upon them. The liberal orthodoxy of dependence and inferiority has its rewards. If you will nod approvingly at the mass killing of your babies and limiting the growth of your population through abortion, you might get money from Planned Parenthood. They might even help get you elected.

If you will go along with the gender-bending confusion which puts more destructive pressure on the black family, you might be a favorite of Hollywood and the mainstream media. If you will use racism to explain every problem confronting every black American, you might get a job as a mouthpiece on the Democratic Plantation.

My professors did not see me as an individual. They condemned me to the inevitable outcomes they ascribed to a group. I am not a group. I am an individual. It is good and right for people to band together as the Civil Rights Movement did to remove legal and cultural discrimination, but each individual must make the most of the resulting opportunities. In a free society, success is based on personal values and behavior, not collective identity.

Americans of African and slave descent should be the most passionate about individual freedom. Freedom is not found in a subsistence existence or collective racial identity. Collectivist ideologies such as Marxism, socialism and communism are enemies of freedom. Freedom is not found in what you can demand of others. Its wellspring is in what you demand of yourself and the inherent right to conform to your own expectations.

Harriet Tubman became a free woman while others languished in bondage waiting for collective liberation to come. She led others to freedom because she dared challenge that orthodoxy and inspired others to do the same. Black conservatives are the Moses’ of today, and every American of every background, young and old, should join us in rejecting collectivist bondage and embracing the promised land of individual liberty.

Bishop E.W. Jackson is a graduate of Harvard Law School ‘78, retired attorney, Pastor of The Called Church, national talk show host for American Family Radio and President of STAND Foundation. (standamerica.us)

I recently watched the movie Harriet about the black Moses, one of the most courageous women in American history. The movie is powerful, and I recommend it.

It showed the desperate dependence of plantation owners on the institution of slavery for their economic survival and societal status. It portrayed the extraordinary cohesiveness of slave families. It touched on the ability of slaves to wear one mask for the masters and one for trusted family and friends. It showed that some slaves, like Harriet Tubman, risked everything for liberty.

Those who struck out for freedom faced beatings, torture, mutilation, or being “sold down the river” to a worse situation. When Harriet made her first return trip south to free her family, her husband, believing she was dead, had married another woman. He said to her, “You left me. You went alone and left me.” There it is. In the end, the will to be free is a personal choice.

Harriet’s answer came later in the story when she confronted her former master during her final Underground Railroad journey. He said, “You could have stayed with us.” She retorted, “I reasoned that there was one of two things I had a right to: liberty or death.”

Given the history of Americans of slave descent, it is ironic that most today have allied themselves to a Democrat Party whose policies amount to a modern form of slavery. It offers guaranteed minimal subsistence and perennial treatment as an inferior victim. It disintegrates their families, denies their children a quality education, and a recent Harvard/Yale study showed that liberals condescend to them as inferiors lacking intelligence.

In one of the film’s scenes, when Harriet tells a black Underground Railroad colleague that she wants to return south to rescue her family, he admonishes her, “Rescuing slaves requires skill and careful planning.” After pointing out that she could not read signs or maps, he concluded, “There’s nothing more you can do.” In a flash of anger, she replies, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do. I made it this far on my own... So don’t you tell me what I can’t do. You don’t know me.” She returned to the south on the first of many journeys to rescue slaves.

While I never faced the life or death struggle of Tubman, I can relate to her frustration with others setting limitations. When I was about to apply to Harvard Law School in 1974, my liberal college professors told me not to get my hopes up about going to Harvard because “black people don’t score well on the Law School Admissions Test (“LSAT”). It is culturally biased.”

I was screaming on the inside, “Don’t you tell me what I can’t do! You don’t know me!” I was not raised to be a victim. I was not taught to lower my expectations and ambitions to conform to how others saw me. It was a vision for her future that liberated Miss Tubman, not obsession with the past.

I was taught by my father that the future would be what I choose to make it. I was an A student in college, Phi Beta Kappa and graduated Summa Cum Laude. I did quite well on the LSATs, without the lowered standards of race norming which rob black people of what can only be earned -- respect. I was accepted to Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Berkeley and every other school to which I applied.

Sadly, many in the black community have internalized the limitations the Democrat Party’s philosophy has placed upon them. The liberal orthodoxy of dependence and inferiority has its rewards. If you will nod approvingly at the mass killing of your babies and limiting the growth of your population through abortion, you might get money from Planned Parenthood. They might even help get you elected.

If you will go along with the gender-bending confusion which puts more destructive pressure on the black family, you might be a favorite of Hollywood and the mainstream media. If you will use racism to explain every problem confronting every black American, you might get a job as a mouthpiece on the Democratic Plantation.

My professors did not see me as an individual. They condemned me to the inevitable outcomes they ascribed to a group. I am not a group. I am an individual. It is good and right for people to band together as the Civil Rights Movement did to remove legal and cultural discrimination, but each individual must make the most of the resulting opportunities. In a free society, success is based on personal values and behavior, not collective identity.

Americans of African and slave descent should be the most passionate about individual freedom. Freedom is not found in a subsistence existence or collective racial identity. Collectivist ideologies such as Marxism, socialism and communism are enemies of freedom. Freedom is not found in what you can demand of others. Its wellspring is in what you demand of yourself and the inherent right to conform to your own expectations.

Harriet Tubman became a free woman while others languished in bondage waiting for collective liberation to come. She led others to freedom because she dared challenge that orthodoxy and inspired others to do the same. Black conservatives are the Moses’ of today, and every American of every background, young and old, should join us in rejecting collectivist bondage and embracing the promised land of individual liberty.

Bishop E.W. Jackson is a graduate of Harvard Law School ‘78, retired attorney, Pastor of The Called Church, national talk show host for American Family Radio and President of STAND Foundation. (standamerica.us)