Lincoln freed the slaves
February 16, 4:36 PM
by Cedric D. Shine, Philadelphia Young Professionals Examiner
Happy President’s Day and Black history month. Here is an interesting piece that looks to discuss Abraham Lincoln and his relationship to history with respect to African Americans and slavery. Check it out!
I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.– Abraham Lincoln 1858
I remember sitting at my cramped desk at Deauville Gardens Elementary School more than 15 years ago. I was no more than 10 years old but I remember learning of "THE GREAT EMANCIPATOR" Abraham Lincoln. It was taught that Lincoln freed the slaves and being a young black child I should be forever grateful because if it were not for his actions many of my people would still be in chains. Those formidable years of education were filled with large fabrications. A growing amount of Americans never make it to college and thus are forced to mull around the lies and propaganda that our history books sell us, between them and these false history channels we are inundated with the winners version of history which can often be extremely flawed.
For years if you asked me who was my favorite President I would proudly state that Abraham Lincoln was the greatest President that ever lived. I was taught that he liberated blacks out of the chains and physical captivity of chattel slavery in these United States of America, that this man saw blacks as his equals and valiantly battled racist southerners and their disturbing opinions of people of color in this country and drove us to freedom. However as I read his quote above, it seems that Abraham Lincoln was quite the opposite, quite the racist, and very much an oppressor of people of color. He believed that people of color were inferior to whites, why was this quote omitted from my education, why is history painted in such a viciously false manner?
In law school the question to every answer is "maybe". The teachers say maybe because there are always multiple different ways of looking at things thus giving us various outcomes, nothing is absolute. Did Abraham Lincoln free the slaves? Maybe!
As I look at several photos taken by up and coming Photographer Young District, who has a great eye for capturing the feeling of a moment. While shooting in the Abraham Lincoln Projects on 132nd and Madison in Harlem he manages to capture this historical relationship between people of color and Lincoln. A picture is worth a thousand words and when I look at this series so much comes to mind.
Look at how the sculptor chose to dress the young black man. Lincoln is fully dressed, bow tie included while the young man wears torn clothes with no shoes. He is visibly supposed to be portraying an enslaved young man, dressed in rags praising Lincoln and his fully suited self. The young boy is looking up to Lincoln, admiring him for his courage, his oh so noble character. The young man is forever in debt to Abraham Lincoln for without Lincoln this boy would still be a slave. Now he’s become a new slave, a slave to a warped view of history.
Look at Lincoln, his face is emotionless, in fact he stares past the young man, not even making eye contact with him. Lincoln is comparable to the Santa Clause who sits in our shopping malls during the holidays, it’s just a job and he really could care less about the wishes that the young man whispers to him because he has no intention of making those dreams come true. But that’s just it! Young District has captured the real intention of Lincoln. He’s looking past blacks but using them as a tool to preserve the Union, to preserve the United States of America. And where does this statute sit, it sits right in the heart of a housing development which is the home to many people of color.
Everyday there’s a kid just like me who walks by this statute and is proud. Proud that in a country who bears the dirty stain of slavery, that there was one man who defied the odds. One man who fought to make sure that blacks and whites were equal. The above quote is not found in history books, it’s not found near this statute. However it is found in the emotionless expression on Lincoln’s face. It’s found in the archives of his speeches that let us know that he had no intention on freeing the slaves. In fact Lincoln is quoted as saying "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that."
Another deleted quote from the legacy of Lincoln, another example of how we were used as pawns and firepower to defeat the Confederate States of America. Nowhere in this quote is this Great Emancipator championing our rights, speaking out against the destructive and oppressive system of racial inequality, yet he gets this great title in our history. He is known as one of the leaders of the Abolitionist movement, yet he did not believe in our abilities, intellect or right to be treated as his equals. So did Lincoln free the slaves, why of course he did, the Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment tells us so. However, it was a mere accident. Thanks to Young District for allowing his lens to capture one of Lincoln’s greatest misnomers, that he actually cared.