Connect with us

History

Frank McWorter: Benefits Made Him “Free”

To establish and maintain his legacy, McWorter “directed his descendants to buy the freedom of additional grandchildren and great-grandchildren after his death.” By the end of his life (1854), McWorter bought the freedom of 16 enslaved individuals at a total cost of $14,000.

Published

on

Frank McWorter, founder of New Philadelphia, Illinois. Sculpture by Shirley McWorter Moss on display at the Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield (Photo courtesy of Sandra McWorter and Lincoln Pres. Library

Travel from Kentucky to Illinois was not without danger. Off-roads and wooded areas were littered with prowling slave catchers who would steal and even destroy freedom papers held by freedmen. Confusing the identity of those seized allowed slave catchers to kidnap them. Once taken, they faced bondage, making it nearly impossible to regain freedom. Even if the papers were intact and the case reached the courts, judges oftentimes dismissed them as forged.

The year was 1830, and Frank McWorter (1777–1854) would face these risks and deliver his family to freedom.
McWorter was born in South Carolina. His owner, George McWhorter, was said to have fathered young Frank. In 1795, Frank and his owner left South Carolina for Kentucky, a place where survival was rough and help was short. These conditions spurred enslavers to make and save all the money they could. They began to allow select slaves to earn cash by hiring themselves out to white settlers.

Slave owners benefitted from this arrangement by collecting their so-called portion of the earnings. Settlers benefitted by paying out lower wages. McWorter also benefitted: he bought himself (1819), and soon after, his family members out of bondage––hence the name “Free” Frank. And freedom was just the beginning of his benefits.

Freedman were entitled to a few basic rights under the US Constitution. For McWorter, this represented the ability to gain economic security through purchasing property. Although his first lot was in Kentucky, his preference was to settle in a state where slavery was outlawed. He then bought land on the Military Tract in Illinois.

It was the spring of 1831 when the McWorters began to settle on their new land: a farm nestled near a spring and running creek in Pike County, Ill. They wasted no time planting and harvesting. By year two, they had farmed more than 80 acres.

By 1835, McWorter returned to Kentucky to purchase the freedom of his son Solomon. He would continue these trips until all of his family were free. He then bought an adjoining 80-acre tract of military land from the government. It was on a part of that land that the town New Philadelphia was developed (1836).
Lots measuring 60×120 feet were sold to both Blacks and Whites. The Black population in New Philadelphia swelled compared to the state as a whole at that time (1850). Economic opportunities, a sense of community, and some measure of security were found by its citizens.

To establish and maintain his legacy, McWorter “directed his descendants to buy the freedom of additional grandchildren and great-grandchildren after his death.” By the end of his life (1854), McWorter bought the freedom of 16 enslaved individuals at a total cost of $14,000.

New Philadelphia continued to attract new settlers, its population peaking in 1865 with 160 individuals. Today, none of the original buildings remain. The land used for farming and pasture for livestock for many years is now covered with prairie grass and wildflowers.

Bay Area

IN MEMORIAM: Elberta Eriksson’s Life Honored in Marin City

Mrs. Elberta Julia Eriksson, BCD, MFT, LCSW was born on March 19, 1930 in Nashville, Tennessee, and grew up in Oakland. She graduated from Sacramento and San Francisco State Universities and was on the faculty at Dominican College and the California Graduate School of Psychology.

Published

on

Cynthia Williams and Elberta Eriksson
Cynthia Williams and Elberta Eriksson

By Godfrey Lee

The life of the late Mrs. Elberta Julia Eriksson, BCD, MFT, LCSW was honored at the Marin City Senior Center in Marin City on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. She passed away on May 9, 2022.

The service was well attended by the community. Terrie Green, Indie B, Kahaya Adams, Ricardo Moncrief and his Music is Health Band, Johnathan Logan, Jr, Ida Times, Maralisa Mack, and Felecia Chavez participated in the service.

Eriksson was born on March 19, 1930 in Nashville, Tennessee, and grew up in Oakland. She graduated from Sacramento and San Francisco State Universities and was on the faculty at Dominican College and the California Graduate School of Psychology.

Eriksson was a social worker, family therapist, and a leader in child advocacy and family issues. She worked as the Director of the Multi-Cultural Outreach Project at the Family Service Agency in Marin, and as a family therapy consultant at Operation Give a Damn. Eriksson has received twenty-year service awards from both organizations.

Eriksson was actively involved in the Marin City Project, participating in the design of the social services to be provided. She served her third term on the Human Rights Commission and is the founder of the Marin African-American Coalition, which provides social, political, educational and cultural exchange. She has received awards for her contributions to the prevention of child abuse from both the State of California and the Marin County Board of Supervisors.

Eriksson was a Board-Certified Diplomat, a State Delegate on the Democratic Committee to advance family and children’s rights, and a charter member of the American Family Therapy Academy. Eriksson was also the head of the Southern Marin Community Connectors Internship Program, and is creator of the Family Functioning Scale.

Felecia Chavez wrote a blog: “Operation Give A Damn — A Former Wrap-Around Organization in Marin City — A Very Brief History,” that describes Eriksson’s passion for resurrecting “wrap-around services” for families in Marin City, and Southern Marin.

The organization that provided “wrap-around services” for families was called ‘Operation Give A Damn,’ or OGAD, which existed in Marin City from 1968 to 1995.

OGAD was a modified ‘Big Brother Big Sisters’ Program that worked in concert with mentors, education, social workers and the family. It addressed the individual client’s needs, and understood that the role, interactions and impact of family dynamics should also be addressed in order for a successful outcome. This often resulted in improving the functioning level of the whole family, says Chavez.

The focus on relationships is primary. “Traditionally, services had been dispersed to clients by social workers who acted as decision-makers working with little input from the client or his community. With organizations such as OGAD, intervention became a group effort; the child, his family, the community at large, all worked together to decide what was best for the child and where to seek help,” said Elberta.

“Building bridges, building high quality human relationships is the very heart of making the world a better place,” writes Chavez.

Continue Reading

Activism

COMMENTARY: Book Bans Are an Attack on the Freedom to Read, Teach and Learn

Trumpish state legislators are introducing laws to make it illegal to teach anything that might make white students experience “discomfort.” One Texas lawmaker demanded information from schools on 850 books he thought were suspect; his list included works on history and human rights. In Virginia, Gov. Glenn Youngkin set up an email hotline for people to report teachers suspected of “divisive” practices.

Published

on

Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way and Professor of the Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.
Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way and Professor of the Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.

By Ben Jealous

Truth is a threat to authoritarianism. Reading is a path to truth. That’s why the freedom to read is essential to the freedom to learn. And that’s why the freedom to learn is often attacked by those who abuse power and those who cling to it.

Every year, the American Library Association and partner organizations observe Banned Books Week to highlight and push back against these threats. This year’s Banned Books Week runs from Sept. 18-24 amidst a wave of book bans and other attempts to restrict what people can learn.

These efforts have a long and dishonorable history.

Before the Civil War, many slave states made it a crime to teach enslaved people to read. Slaveholders feared that being able to read might help enslaved people gain their freedom or organize rebellions. In Virginia, a judge could order that any slave or free person of color caught learning to read or write be whipped.

In our day, attacking the freedom to read is once again a political strategy for those seeking to take and keep power. And once again, Black people are a primary target.

State legislators and governors are making it illegal to teach honestly about the history and reality of racism in our country. Far-right activists are trying to purge schools and libraries of books that feature Black people, LGBTQ people, and others they deem unworthy of students’ attention.

The MAGA movement’s attacks on teaching about racism and sexuality have led to what the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom has called an “astronomical” increase in challenges to books.

That’s why the annual celebration of the freedom to read that is Banned Books Week is especially meaningful this year. In addition to the librarians, authors, booksellers, teachers, and other anti-censorship activists who lead Banned Book Week activities, all of us have a role to play in ensuring the voices of our communities are not silenced.

Books by and about Black people and other people of color — and by and about LGBTQ people — dominate the ALA’s annual list of most frequently challenged books. This year’s honorary chairman, George Johnson, is an award-winning Black author whose “All Boys Aren’t Blue” is high on the list of books most challenged last year, along with others dealing with racism, racial identity, and sexuality.

“This is a fight for the truth that has always existed even if it rarely gets told,” Johnson says. “When the youth are empowered with stories about the experiences of others, they become adults who understand the necessity for equity and equality and have the tools to build a world the likes of which we have never seen.”

But far-right activists tell parents that words like “equity” are code for Marxism and something they should fight. Trump Republicans are encouraging MAGA activists to take over their school boards by running propaganda campaigns about “critical race theory.”

Trumpish state legislators are introducing laws to make it illegal to teach anything that might make white students experience “discomfort.” One Texas lawmaker demanded information from schools on 850 books he thought were suspect; his list included works on history and human rights. In Virginia, Gov. Glenn Youngkin set up an email hotline for people to report teachers suspected of “divisive” practices.

Books targeted in the current war on truth include a memoir by Ruby Bridges, which tells the true story about her walking through angry mobs when she was a six-year-old who became the first Black student to attend a New Orleans elementary school that had previously been off-limits to non-white students.

This is an important part of our history. We cannot build a future together if we are not willing to honestly face the truth about our past and our present.

Banned Books Week is a good time to commit ourselves to defending the freedom to read, teach, and learn about our history — and to opposing those who want to make it illegal to teach about that history or make it impossible for educators to do so without being smeared and harassed.

Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way and Professor of the Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. A New York Times best-selling author, his next book “Never Forget Our People Were Always Free” will be published by Harper Collins in December 2022.

Continue Reading

Activism

The St. Augustine Movement (1963–1964)

Hundreds of students from northern colleges recruited by the SCLC participated in demonstrations and sit-ins during Easter week of 1964. Most were jailed. “Some were made to stand in a cramped outdoor overflow pen in the late spring heat, while others were put into a concrete sweatbox overnight.”

Published

on

It was the spring of 1964. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were preparing to launch a campaign to end racial discrimination in St. Augustine, Fla.
It was the spring of 1964. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were preparing to launch a campaign to end racial discrimination in St. Augustine, Fla.

By Tamara Shiloh

It was the spring of 1964. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were preparing to launch a campaign to end racial discrimination in St. Augustine, Fla. King hoped that the “demonstrations there would lead to local desegregation and that media attention would garner national support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was then stalled in a congressional filibuster,” according to Stanford University’s King Encyclopedia.

A sit-in protest at a local Woolworth’s lunch counter that ended in the arrest and imprisonment of 16 Black protestors and seven juveniles sparked the pickets. Four of the arrested, JoeAnn Anderson, Audrey Nell Edwards, Willie Carl Singleton, and Samuel White were sent to reform school for six months. No effort was made to release them until their case was publicized by Jackie Robinson, the NAACP, and the Pittsburgh Courier. They were later dubbed “the St. Augustine Four.”

It was Robert B. Hayling, advisor to the Youth Council of the city’s branch of the NAACP, who led these demonstrations. Protesters were met with violence as the Ku Klux Klan responded to their presence. Hayling and three other NAACP members were severely beaten at a 1963 Klan rally. They were arrested and convicted of assaulting their attackers.

The NAACP asked for Hayling’s resignation, but not before reaching out to the SCLC for support.

Hundreds of students from northern colleges recruited by the SCLC participated in demonstrations and sit-ins during Easter week of 1964. Most were jailed. “Some were made to stand in a cramped outdoor overflow pen in the late spring heat, while others were put into a concrete sweatbox overnight.”

When King visited St. Augustine that May, the house the SCLC rented for him was “sprayed by gunfire.” The day after the Senate voted to end the filibuster of the Civil Rights Act, King, Ralph Abernathy, and several others were arrested when they requested service at a segregated restaurant. Meanwhile, despite the violence, the SCLC continued to lead marches.

On June 18, a Grand Jury pressured King and the SCLC to leave St. Augustine for one month. The so-called goal was to “diffuse the situation, claiming that they had disrupted racial harmony in the city.”

King responded that the request was “an immoral one, as it asked the Negro community to give all, and the white community to give nothing . . . St. Augustine never had peaceful race relations.”

As the Senate debated the Civil Rights Act, SCLC lawyers began to win court victories in St. Augustine. The SCLC was encouraged to bring cases against the Klan. On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, into law.

Blacks in St. Augustine continued to face violence, intimidation, and threats, as healing took its time.

Help young readers understand the struggle for equality and a time when American laws were unfair to Blacks. Share with them Shadae Mallory’s “The History of the Civil Rights Movement: A History Book for New Readers.” Purchase at https://www.multiculturalbookstore.com

Sources: https://www.britannica.com/event/American-civil-rights-movement

https://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/BAIC/Historical-Essays/Keeping-the-Faith/Civil-Rights-Movement/

https://www.adl.org/resources/backgrounder/civil-rights-movement

Continue Reading

Subscribe to receive news and updates from the Oakland Post

* indicates required

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending