Tag Archives: Black History

Nat Turner Slave Revolt 1831

Nat Turner Slave Revolt 1831

From 1831–1862: The Underground Railroad Approximately 75,000 slaves escape to the North and to freedom via the Underground Railroad, a system in which free African American and white “conductors,” abolitionists and sympathizers help guide and shelter the escapees.

Birth and education

October 2, 1800: Nat Turner was born  on the plantation of Benjamin Turner in Southampton County, Virginia, the week before Gabriel  Prosser (see Aug 30) was hanged after a failed slave insurrection in Richmond, Virginia.

Nat Turner’s mother was enslaved woman named Nancy, who was captured from West Africa. His father, presumed to be a slave named Abraham, ran away from the Southampton, Virginia, plantation when Nat was about ten years old

Benjamin Turner allowed Nat Turner to be instructed in reading, writing, and religion.

Nat Turner Slave Revolt 1831

First vision

While still a young child, Nat was overheard describing events that had happened before he was born. This, along with his keen intelligence, and other signs marked him in the eyes of his people as a prophet.

Nat was given as a gift, along with his mother and grandmother, to Benjamin’s son Samuel around 1809, and formally willed in 1810.

In 1821, Turner ran away from Samuel, but returned  after thirty days because of a vision in which the Spirit had told him to “return to the service of my earthly master.”

Nat Turner Slave Revolt 1831

Second Vision

By 1822, Samuel had died, and his widow, Elizabeth Turner, oversaw Nat until she married Thomas Moore, who took formal ownership of Nat in 1823.

According to a National Geographic article, “After Elizabeth’s death, Moore married Sally Francis, who became a widow and then married Joseph Travis, Nat’s last master, although Sally’s 10-year-old son, Putnam, was legally Nat’s owner.”

In 1825: Nat Turner had a second vision. He saw lights in the sky and prayed to find out what they meant. Then “… while laboring in the field, I discovered drops of blood on the corn, as though it were dew from heaven, and I communicated it to many, both white and black, in the neighborhood; and then I found on the leaves in the woods hieroglyphic characters and numbers, with the forms of men in different attitudes, portrayed in blood, and representing the figures I had seen before in the heavens.

Nat Turner Slave Revolt 1831

Third Vision

May 12, 1828: Turner “…heard a loud noise in the heavens, and the Spirit instantly appeared to me and said the Serpent was loosened, and Christ had laid down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I should take it on and fight against the Serpent, for the time was fast approaching when the first should be last and the last should be first… And by signs in the heavens that it would make known to me when I should commence the great work, and until the first sign appeared I should conceal it from the knowledge of men; and on the appearance of the sign… I should arise and prepare myself and slay my enemies with their own weapons.

By 1830, Southampton County was home to 6,573 whites, 1,745 free blacks, and 7,756 enslaved African Americans.

It was in 1830 that Turner was moved to the home of Joseph Travis with his official owner being the young child Putnum Moore. Turner described Travis as a kind master, against whom he had no complaints. The Travis plantation was lived 411 acres and had 17 slaves working his property in 1830.

Records show that Nat married an enslaved woman named Cherry who lived on a neighboring plantation, and they had at least one child, a son named Reddick. Nat would have to obtain a pass from his masters to visit his family.

Records show that he was outspoken in his beliefs that blacks should be free, and that freedom would be theirs one day; an opinion for which he was whipped in 1828.

Nat Turner preaches religion. “”Knowing the influence I had obtained over the minds of my fellow-servants…by the communion of the Spirit, whose revelations I often communicated to them… I now began to prepare them for my purpose.” (Image Credit: The Granger Collection, New York)
Nat Turner Slave Revolt 1831

Signs from the heavens

February 1831: there was an eclipse of the sun. Turner took this to be the sign he had been promised and confided his plan to the four men he trusted the most, Hark Moore, Henry Porter, Nelson Edwards, Sam Francis, Will Francis, and Jack Reese . They decided to hold an  insurrection on July 4 and began planning a strategy. However, they had to postpone action because Turner became ill.

August 13, 1831: there was an atmospheric disturbance in which the sun appeared bluish-green. Turner interpreted this as the final sign.

Nat Turner Slave Revolt 1831

Revolt

Nat Turner Slave Revolt 1831

August 21, 1831: Turner, Moore, Porter, Edwards,  Sam Francis, Will Francis, and Reese  met in the woods to eat a dinner and make their plans.

At 2:00 AM they launched the rebellion by entering the Travis household, where they killed the entire family as they lay sleeping, save for a small infant. They moved from one farm to the next, killing all slave-owning whites they found. As they progressed through Southampton county, other slaves joined in the rebellion.

They continued on, from house to house, killing all of the white people they encountered. Turner’s force eventually consisted of more than 40 slaves, most on horseback.

August 22, 1831: Turner decided to march toward Jerusalem, the closest town. By then word of the rebellion had gotten out to the whites; confronted by a group of militia, the rebels scattered, and Turner’s force became disorganized. After spending the night near some slave cabins, Turner and his men attempted to attack another house, but were repulsed. One slave was killed and many escaped, including Turner.

Nat Turner Slave Revolt 1831

Escape

In the end, the rebels had stabbed, shot and clubbed at least 55 white people to death.Turner escaped and remained free for nearly two months.

In those two months though, the militia and white vigilantes instituted a reign of terror over slaves in the region. Hundreds of blacks were killed. White Virginians panicked over fears of a larger slave revolt and soon instituted more restrictive laws regulating slave life.

Nat Turner Slave Revolt 1831

Capture

Nat Turner Slave Revolt 1831

August 30, 1831: The Richmond Enquirer published a description of the rebels’ “murderous career” that likened them to “a parcel of blood-thirsty wolves rushing down from the Alps; or rather like a former incursion of the Indians upon the white settlements.” The lesson gleaned by the writer of the article from the case of Turner, “who had been taught to read and write, and permitted to go about preaching,” was that “No black man ought to be permitted to turn a Preacher through the country.”

Credit was given to “many of the slaves whom gratitude had bound to their masters, that thy had manifested the grestest alacrity in detecting and apprehending many of the brigands.”

According to the article, General Broadnax, the militia commander of Greensville County, was “convinced, from various sources” of the “entire ignorance on the subject of all the slaves in the counties around Southampton, among whom he has never known more pefect order and quiet to prevail.” [full text of article]

Nat Turner Slave Revolt 1831

Harriet Ann Jacobs

Harriet Ann Jacobs, born into slavery in North Carolina in 1813, eventually escaped to the North, where she wrote a narrative about her ordeal of slavery.

In Chapter Twelve of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself, Jacobs describes the harassment of blacks in Edenton, North Carolina, following the rebellion.

Her “Fear of Insurrection” begins with a statement that captured the irony of white society’s fear: NOT far from this time Nat Turner’s insurrection broke out; and the news threw our town into great commotion. Strange that they should be alarmed when their slaves were so “contented and happy”! But so it was. [full text]

October 30, 1831: Turner captured and imprisoned in the Southampton County Jail, where he was interviewed by Thomas R. Gray, a Southern physician. Out of that interview came his now famous “Confession.

Convinced that “the great day of judgement was at hand,” and that he “should commence the great work,” Turner took the eclipse of the sun to mean that “I should arise and prepare myself, and slay my enemies with their own weapons.”

Gray described Turner as being extremely intelligent but a fanatic. He went on to say: “The calm, deliberate composure with which he spoke of his late deeds and intentions, the expression of his fiend-like face when excited by enthusiasm; still bearing the stains of the blood of helpless innocence about him; clothed with rags and covered with chains, yet daring to raise his manacled hands to heaven; with a spirit soaring above the attributes of man, I looked on him and my blood curdled in my veins.”

Nat Turner Slave Revolt 1831

Trial and execution

November 5, 1831: Nat Turner was tried in the Southampton County Court and sentenced to execution. (BH, NT, & SR, see Nov 10)

November 10, 1831: Nat Turner hung. He was buried the following day.

No grave marker exists for Nat Turner, nor for his fellow soldiers. The rebels were caught, tried, and executed in different places, and their scattered remains lie under unmarked soil.

The November 14, 1831, Norfolk Herald reported that: “He betrayed no emotion, but appeared to be utterly reckless in the awful fate that awaited him and even hurried his executioner in the performance of his duty! Precisely at 12 o’clock he was launched into eternity.”

In total, the state executed 55 people, banished many more, and acquitted a few. The state reimbursed the slaveholders for their slaves. But in the hysterical climate that followed the rebellion, close to 200 black people, many of whom had nothing to do with the rebellion, were murdered by white mobs. In addition, slaves as far away as North Carolina were accused of having a connection with the insurrection, and were subsequently tried and executed.
The state legislature of Virginia considered abolishing slavery, but in a close vote decided to retain slavery and to support a repressive policy against black people, slave and free.

The basic information for this blog entry came from Brotherly Love, a PBS article.

Nat Turner Slave Revolt 1831
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2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

The tropical depression that became Hurricane Katrina formed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005. It’s path led it over Florida before moving out into the Gulf of Mexico, regaining strength, and moving onto the Gulf coast again.

When the storm made landfall, it had a Category 3 rating on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale–it brought sustained winds of 100–140 miles per hour–and stretched some 400 miles across.

And while Katrina affected a huge region, I will limit this blog entry mainly to New Orleans.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

First landfall: Florida

August 25, 2005: at 6:30 PM EDT Hurricane Katrina made its first landfall in Florida as a Category 1 hurricane near Hallandale Beach, Florida on the Miami-Dade/Broward county line.

After landfall, instead of travelling as originally forecast, Katrina moved hard left (south/southwest) almost parallel to the coastline in densely-populated metropolitan Miami, Florida. As many as six people were killed, including three people killed by falling trees and two boaters that attempted to ride out the storm in their crafts.

August 26, 2005: Katrina was  downgraded to a tropical storm. At 5:00 AM EDT, the eye of Hurricane Katrina was located just offshore of southwestern Florida over the Gulf of Mexico about 50 miles (80 km) north-northeast of Key West, Florida.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Headed toward New Orleans

August 27, 2005: Katrina reached Category 3 intensity. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin announced a state of emergency and a called for a voluntary evacuation.

August 28, 2005: Katrina reached Category 4 intensity with 145 mph winds. By 7:00 AM CDT  it was a Category 5 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph , gusts up to 215 mph.

In a press conference at roughly 10:00 AM CDT, Mayor Ray Nagin declared that “a mandatory evacuation order is hereby called for all of the parish of Orleans.”

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Storm surge

August 29, 2005: Katrina’s storm surge caused 53 different levee breaches in greater New Orleans, submerging eighty percent of the city. 2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

August 30, 2005: Louisiana Governor Blanco ordered that all of New Orleans, including the Superdome, be evacuated due to the flooding of the city.

August 31, 2005: New Orleans’s Mayor Ray Nagin announced that the planned sandbagging of the 17th Street Canal levee breach had failed.

At the time, 85% of the city was underwater. President Bush returned early to Washington from vacationing at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Though he did not stop in Louisiana, Air Force One flies low over the Gulf Coast so that he can view the devastation in Air Force One.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

September 1, 2005: President Bush appeared on Good Morning America, and said that he understood the frustration of Katrina victims, many of whom are still waiting for food, water, and other aid.

I fully understand people wanting things to have happened yesterday,” Bush said. “I understand the anxiety of people on the ground. … So there is frustration. But I want people to know there’s a lot of help coming.”

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Heck of a job

September 2, 2005: President George W. Bush told Michael Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” during a tour of Hurricane Katrina damage in Alabama.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Danziger Bridge

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

September 4, 2005: in New Orleans, Sgt. Kenneth Bowen and Sgt. Robert Gisevius and Officers Anthony Villavaso and Robert Faulcon jumped in a Budget rental truck with several other officers and raced to the Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans, responding to a distress call.

As a result, police killed two civilians, 17-year-old James Brissette and 40-year-old Ronald Madison an wounded four other civilians.

All of the victims were African-American. None were armed or had committed any crime. Madison, a mentally disabled man, was shot in the back. (officers, see January 3, 2007)

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Media limitations

September 9, 2005: U.S. Army Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré and New Orleans Director of Homeland Security Terry Ebbert announced a “zero access” policy with regards to the media, in order to prevent members of the media from reporting on the recovery of dead bodies in New Orleans. CNN filed a lawsuit, then obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent government agencies from interfering with news coverage of recovery efforts.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Brown resigns

September 12, 2005: in the wake of what was widely believed to be incompetent handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by state, local and federal officials, FEMA director, Michael Brown, resigned, saying that it was “in the best interest of the agency and best interest of the president.” His standing had also been damaged when the Boston Herald revealed his meager experience in disaster management before joining FEMA.

September 15, 2005, : President George W. Bush, addressing the nation from storm-ravaged New Orleans, acknowledged the government failed to respond adequately to Hurricane Katrina and urged Congress to approve a massive reconstruction program.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Death toll

September 19, 2005: Louisiana’s official death toll stood at 973.

September 21, 2005: the official death toll was raised to 1,036, with 63 additional deaths recognized in Louisiana. This marked the first time since 1928 that a natural disaster in the U.S. had been officially acknowledged to have killed at least 1,000 people. State-by-state death tolls: Louisiana 799, Mississippi 218, Florida 14, Alabama 2, Georgia 2, Tennessee 1.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Police charged

January 3, 2007: seven New Orleans policemen charged in a deadly  shooting in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina turned themselves in at the city jail.  More than 200 supporters met them in a show of solidarity.

Each of the indicted men faced at least one charge of murder or attempted murder in the Sept. 4, 2005, shootings on the Danziger Bridge. Two people died and four were wounded in the shooting.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Indictments dismissed

August 13, 2008: District Judge Raymond Bigelow dismissed the indictments against the New Orleans police officers after his finding that the prosecutors had wrongly instructed the grand jury and that testimony of three of the accused officers had been divulged to other witnesses in the case.

The US Dept of Justice and the FBI will subsequently investigate the case.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Guilty pleas

February 24, 2010: Officer Michael Lohman, who had encouraged the officers to provide false stories in the shooting incident entered a plea of guilty to obstruction of justice in federal court.

March 11, 2010: Officer Jeffrey Lehrmann pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony for failing to report the cover-up.

April 7, 2010: Michael Hunter, one of the seven officers originally charged with attempted murder in 2007, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony and obstruction of justice.

July 13, 2010: a federal grand jury indicted Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon, and Anthony Villavaso in connection with the shooting and subsequent cover-up.

Additionally, Arthur “Archie” Kaufman (lead investigator on the case) and Gerard Dugue (another investigator) were charged with falsifying reports and false prosecution in the conspiracy to cover-up the shooting. [Times-Picayune article]

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

More guilty verdicts

August 5, 2011: guilty verdicts were handed down for Bowen, Gisevius, Faulcon, Villavaso and Kaufman. [Times-Picayune article]

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Sentencing

April 4, 2012: the four officers directly involved in the shooting were sentenced in federal court to lengthy terms ranging from 38 to 65 years, while a police sergeant who was charged with investigating the shooting, and instead helped lead the efforts to hide and distort what happened, was sentenced to six years.

Three police officers who pleaded guilty and later testified at the trial were involved in the shooting on the bridge and received sentences ranging from five to eight years.

Two others, a detective and a police lieutenant who helped orchestrate the cover-up, were sentenced to three and four years. [FBI report]

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Vacated convictions

September 17, 2013, following a year-long probe into the defendants’ claims, U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt vacated the convictions of Bowen, Faulcon, Gisevius, Villavaso and Kaufman, and ordered a new trial.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

2015

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

New guilty pleas

April 20, 2016, the five officers pleaded guilty to charges of deprivation of rights under color of law, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. In return, they were sentenced to significantly reduced sentences of three to 12 years in prison, with credit for time served.

November 4, 2016, Gerard Dugue pleaded guilty in federal court to “a misdemeanor charge of accessory after the fact to deprivation of rights under the color of law.”

He was sentenced to one year of probation, making him the only NOPD officer who plead guilty in the case but was not sent to prison.

December 19, 2016:  New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu apologized and announced a settlement agreement. [NOLA dot com article]

The settlement included payments for the families of victims killed or injured in the shooting of unarmed civilians; for the beating death of Raymond Robair, 48, who was killed before the storm; and for the fatal shooting of Henry Glover, who was killed by a police officer standing guard outside an Algiers shopping center.”

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans
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1958 Oklahoma City Sit Ins Successful

1958 Oklahoma City Sit Ins Successful

Perhaps the best known restaurant sit-in was the 1960 Greensboro, North Carolina sit-in. Of course simply because something is the most famous example does not mean it was the first.

In August 1958 several young blacks, recently returned from a trip to less obviously segregated north, decided to desegregate a lunch counter in their hometown of Oklahoma City.

Here is that chronology.

Katz Drug Store

August 19: Thirteen black youths seek to be served at a Katz Drug Store counter. The store refused.

August 20: the youth return to the Katz food counter and were again refused service.

August 21: Katz began serving a large group of black youths shortly after 3:30 pm.

1958 Oklahoma City Sit Ins Successful

Other counters

August 22: thirty-five black children sat quietly for more than six hours in the John A. Brown Co. luncheonette. That morning S. H. Kress and Co. served black youths on a “stand up” basis (stools had been removed at the counter).

August 23:sSixty-six black youths accompanied by six adults entered Brown’s luncheonette and stayed for six hours without being served. Several minor incidents occurred, with one white man and four white boys being ejected.

1958 Oklahoma City Sit Ins Successful

NAACP

1958 Oklahoma City Sit Ins Successful

August 24: a Sunday, NAACP Youth Council members took their plea for service in downtown eating places to city churches; 17 white churches welcomed them, two churches segregated them and one turned them away.

August 25: eighty-five children and five adults sit all day in Brown’s luncheonette without being served.

Aug 26: eighty-five youths sat down at Brown’s luncheonette with no service.

Police arrested a 23-year-old white man on a charge of disorderly conduct after he is accused of striking a 15-year-old black youth.

The youth is ordered to children’s court the next day. Earlier in the day, a white man is detained by police after officers said he “lost his temper.”

Clara Luper, head of the Oklahoma City youth council of the NAACP, reported receiving threatening phone calls and a letter.

1958 Oklahoma City Sit Ins Successful

Other cities

August 27: One hundred and thirty five youths participate in a sit-in at Brown’s luncheonette, but find most of the seats “reserved for employees only.”

In Enid, 50 black youths entered two drug stores in an effort to force operators to serve them. No one is served.

1958 Oklahoma City Sit Ins Successful

Stubborn John A Brown 

August 28: one hundred and fifty youths returned to the Brown’s luncheonette. Chairs were removed from all the tables except those reserved for employees. Available seats were occupied by whites who gave up the seats only when another white person was available to take the seat.

August 29: all available seats at the luncheonette in the basement of John A Brown Co. were occupied by white youths when the luncheonette opened for businessand the youths only surrender their seats for white customers.

Of the 15 blacks youths who show up in the morning, seven still are there waiting for seats that afternoon.

August 31: black youths at Brown’s luncheonette were told they must ask white customers for permission to sit near them.

In Enid, a committee of cafe owners is appointed to meet with a committee of black residents to discuss serving policies.

In Tulsa, two groups of blacks try to get food service at two restaurants.

September 1: the executive committee of the state NAACP praised efforts by city black youth to gain equal eating privileges at downtown lunch counters.

1958 Oklahoma City Sit Ins Successful

Achievements

1958 Oklahoma City Sit Ins Successful

Sept. 2: the youth council announces the daily “store sitting” campaigns suspended because “our objectives have been achieved.” High school students are due to return to classes the next day. Demonstrations and sit-ins would go on for about four more years in Oklahoma City.

1958 Oklahoma City Sit Ins Successful
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