We did not die, we multiplied

HARRY-C-ALFORD

Blacks, as a race of people, are the most resilient human beings on God’s earth.

Starting in the 1500s, Europeans began the greatest holocaust known to history. The enslavement of Africans would last for over 350 years. Millions died within weeks during the passage across the Atlantic Ocean. Many women arrived pregnant from the rapes of their captors during the voyage. A noticeable number survived, only to be put under the harshest of conditions from the cradle to the grave.

Historical brutality

There have been different forms of slavery throughout history. The form used throughout the ‘New World’ was the most vicious and heartless. Victims were denied their religion, language and every aspect of their culture.

The treatment was quite like that of the management of livestock. Any resistance would result in certain death. Governments would encourage settlers to utilize slaves on their farms. There was a tradition to award settlers for utilizing slaves. For each new slave purchased by a farmer, there would be a 50-acre bonus of new land.

After going through this holocaust for nearly four decades, African-Americans of the Western Hemisphere developed into some of the strongest human beings known to the world. Every four years, we go on display during the Olympics. Popular sports such as football, basketball, soccer, baseball, boxing, etc. proves our strength, speed and courage.

Worth the visit

Every person should visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Blacks, descendants of slaves, come out of the museum inspired by the achievements despite the adversities we experienced. Whites, descendants of slave owners, come out educated and surprised.

We won our freedom in the United States in 1865. However, for the next 100 years, many of us endured the evil of Jim Crow segregation. We were slotted into the lowest jobs, poorest healthcare and smallest amount of education available. When the Dutch descendants of South Africa wanted to apply apartheid, they modeled this Jim Crow example.

Blacks living in the rural South were denied proper education. Most rural Black children went to elementary school during the winter months. The rest of the year was spent working the fields.

During the George W. Bush administration, we became cultural ambassadors. One of our journeys was to Mexico City. We were amazed when we toured La Puebla and Vera Cruz. There were Blacks there.

Some did not know how their people got there. Our research revealed that when the French and British drove the Spanish settlers out of the Gulf Coast region, many of the Spaniards fled to Mexico and brought their slaves with them.

About Brazil

We journeyed to Brazil in 1999. Brazil has the largest population of Blacks in the Western Hemisphere; only Nigeria is larger. Many Brazilians of European lineage try to ignore that. They divide Blacks by the darkness of skin color. They try to dilute the fact that nearly most of the population are “children of Africa.” Some of the brothers and sisters wear T-shirts that say “100 percent Negro” (“Black” in Portuguese). They aren’t buying it.

Despite their majority population, Blacks in Brazil represent less than 18 percent of the wealth. Throughout South America, Blacks are at the bottom rung of the economic ladder. We are committed to help change that.

In March, we will visit Columbia on a follow-up trade mission. Our affiliated chapter there is quite ambitious and is headquartered in the Cali region. This country is going through a positive change in terms of civil and economic rights for the African descendants and the indigenous people. We will provide “best practices” for civil and economic parity and meet dignitaries in the capital city of Bogota. (Details on the NBCC website.)

The coastlines of South and Central America are home to the majority of African-Americans. As slaves, they would work the harbors, ports and farmlands. The undeniable truth is that descendants of the “Great Holocaust” have survived and will now begin to economically thrive. It is our destiny.

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Harry C. Alford is the cofounder and president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC). Kay DeBow is the NBCC co-founder. Contact them via www.nationalbcc.org.

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