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MrBy Roy Douglas Malonson, Publisher

It was a shock heard around the world when Steve McQueen, director of The movie “12 Years A Slave” said that his Oscar for best picture was “for all the people who have endured slavery, and the 21 million people who still endure slavery today.”

That statement represents a key event in American History for a Black British director who reached out across the Atlantic Ocean to shake the historical tree and take on a controversial issue that Black and White folks in America continue to grapple with for 149 years.

It was a watershed moment because unlike the movie  “Roots” before it, McQueen’s movie made America take a look in the mirror at history that for years has either buried or set aside in a place where many Whites have refused to talk about it or take full responsibility for it.

Alex Haley’s “Roots” made White America cringe at the brutality and ruthlessness of slavery, but it did not strike a nerve deep enough to effectively shake the collective thoughts of White America enough to accept responsibility for it.

Instead, softer approaches to presenting and teaching the history of slavery prevailed to water down its brutality and dumb down the history to make it more tasteful in the eyes of America.

It is history that should not be ignored or swept under the rug. The truth about slavery is clear. It was more than an attempt to buy and sell Negroes for profit.

It was a nasty business with an illegal dirty underbelly that resulted in thousands of female rape cases and kidnapping cases similar to Solomon Northrup and slave woman Patsey.

According to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, approximately 11,863,000 Africans were shipped across the Atlantic. Due to disease and death, only 9.6 and 10.8 million Africans arrived in the Americas.

Also, about 500,000 Africans were imported into what is now the U.S. between 1619 and 1807–or about 6 percent of all Africans wereforcibly imported into the Americas. About 70 percent arrived directly from Africa. Between 1790 and 1860, 835,000 slaves were moved from Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 also made it easy to grab free Blacks from the North and take them into the South to be sold as slaves – a fact well documented by the movie. Freedom in 1865, did not make Blacks free.

Director McQueen did his part to acknowledge to America and the world that slavery still exists.

Blacks may be free on paper and by law in America, but We MUST Understand that the tenets of slavery and its venomous impact is still affecting Black America today.

Inequality, high unemployment and poverty plague our neighborhoods and our school children have been under attack since desegregation. The plan from then to now has been to corral and control the talent and will of Black America and what better way to do that than to destroy the will of generations of youth.

McQueen was nearly thrown away by a system in England similar to the U.S. that failed to recognize the talents he possessed. It was only his own will that caused him not to bow to the English “slave masters” wishes of making him a common laborer. It was his dream of using his artistic talents that made him reach down within himself and believe in himself enough to drive towards success.

When we know our history we understand the obstacles of the past, the challenges of the present and the hurdles in the future.

We MUST Understand that it is the beginning of knowledge that leads us out of dingy darkness of the “mental slave ships” we ride today and onto limitless fields and plains of freedom that allow us our real talents to build, grow and soar to the highest heights. Then like McQueen, we develop an appreciation and a passion to follow dreams which lead us to accomplish even greater things as Black people. Decide now to free your mind and “Break out” of Mental Slavery.