Thursday, September 08, 2005

Blacks in America are Just a Tad Paranoid

"It didn't really matter if these people were uncomfortable. It didn't really matter if they were starving. It probably wouldn't have really mattered a whole lot if a lot of 'em had died for one reason or another. They were gonna keep their laborers and that's just ruthless contempt for human beings." * Where is this from? The speaker is talking about thousands of poor blacks who were surrounded by floodwaters from a broken levee. A few white people were stranded with them. Transportation was available with room to evacuate all the flood victims but only the whites were taken to safety. The blacks were left behind without food, water or shelter. Eventually they were put in refugee camps patrolled by the armed National Guardsmen. A Republican in charge of federal government relief efforts engaged in a coverup of the refugee scandal. It was the aftermath of a natural disaster, the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 which devastated communities from Illinois to Mississippi. In all fairness, the local, state and federal government behaved much worse in 1927 than our current leaders do today. The city of Greenville, Mississippi was controlled by a few wealthy landowners who used thousands of poor black sharecroppers to farm cotton. When the Mississippi started to flood from excessive rainfall, the Greenville landowners forced black men and boys, at gunpoint, to shore up the levee. Unfortunately, the levee broke and many people died. Whites were evacuated out danger. Blacks were evacuated to the intact portion of the levee, an 8-foot-wide swath of land surrounded by the Mississippi River on one side and the flood on the other. They had no food, water or shelter and the rain continued to pour. Several boats arrived to rescue all the survivors on the levee but the landowners intervened. They were afraid of losing their workers; once gone, the sharecroppers might decide to look for a better life. So, the few (33) whites on the levee were evacuated and the blacks were left behind. The story gets worse. Herbert Hoover, then Secretary of Commerce for Calvin Coolidge and in charge of the overall disaster relief program, came to Greenville shortly after the levee break. The landowners convinced him that Greenville should be used as a hub for distribution of relief supplies. In order to supply the labor for the federal effort and clean up the town, blacks were forced into labor camps and worked under the supervision of armed National Guardsmen who abused their authority. Word got out that the guards were raping, beating, and killing blacks. Herbert Hoover initiated an investigation that confirmed the reports. However, Hoover did not want tarnish his image as a great leader who successfully saved flood victims; he was planning on running for president. He managed to kill the story of the brutal labor camps. People wonder why blacks in America are just a tad paranoid. *Pete Daniel, Historian from Fatal Flood, The American Experience, 2001 I wrote a very brief synopsis of the incident. For more information see: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/flood/filmmore/pt.html http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/flood/timeline/timeline2.html

4 Comments:

Anonymous Candy said...

Didn't you hear what Barbara Bush said? Those evacuees are better off post-Katrina. No doubt those black sharecroppers were better off after the flood too--hey, they stayed gainfully employed, right?

Anyway, thanks for writing this. I wonder why I didn't learn about this in American History 101 and 102?

9/09/2005 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous sterling said...

Wow. My mother was born in February of 1927 in Murphy Ms.
That town no longer exists. It was wiped out in the flood. I watched the pictures of this latest flood and wondered how my grandmother dealt with a set of twing and a blind 7 year old during all of that. I think part of the anger that so many black american feel is because we all know that IT COULD HAVE BEEN ME! The tape of the two young men running out of the store with bags of clothing is played over and over on every station, and white amerika feels like now it's
to let loose there simmering dislike for blacks. They are so uninformed about what's happened in other major floods of the world.

Sorry for the rant, but I just had to get it out. Check out "Rising Tide", I can't remember the author right now, and you'll learn about the power of the Louisiana Levee Board.

9/09/2005 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Tarantula Lady said...

Candy and Sterling,
Thanks for coming by and reading my blog. Civil rights have come a long way since 1927 but Bush is trying to push us back to the bad old days.

9/09/2005 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger Excalibor said...

Well, that's being shown here in Spain as well... Maybe our point of view is a bit different, but I don't think it is that much different...

As for Bush Jr., he seems to be trying to get the US many years back in a lot of matters (social, civil rights, religious, political, economical, environmental, ...)

Once thing that amazes me is that ``convenience'' chip politicians have: Ms Condoleeza Rice didn't even bother to come to Spain when she visited Europe, due to discrepancies in US politics in Iraq with the new government; however the US Ambassador thanked the Spanish government, almost with tears on his eyes, by the humanitarian help that we, as many other European countries, are sending alone to relieve the disaster that happened over there... Sigh. Well, as a Canal + program put it:

Bush Jr.: Don't worry, I am an expert in catastrophes
Ms RIce: in creating them, not in solving them!
Bush Jr.: Worry not, I can learn, after all there's only a 1% difference between me and chimpazees.

Thanks for your blog: witty and well researched. I enjoy it ever since I met it. Keep it up, and greetings from Old Europe.

9/11/2005 03:03:00 PM  

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