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Snippet of 1619 Episode 1: The Fight for a True Democracy

From Audio: Episode 1: The Fight for a True Democracy

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station description In August of 1619, a ship carrying more than 20 enslaved Africans arrived in the En... read more
1619
Duration: 09:31
America was founded on the ideal of democracy. Black people fought to make it one.“1619” is a New York Times audio series hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones.
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America was founded on the ideal of democracy. Black people fought to make it one.“1619” is a New York Times audio series hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones. You can find more information about it at nytimes.com/1619podcast.
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they say our people were born on the water when it occurred. No one can say for certain. Perhaps it was in the second week or the third, but surely by the fourth, when they had not seen their land or any land for so many days that they lost count. It was after the fear had turned to despair and the despair to resignation, and the resignation gave way finally to resolve. They knew then that they would not hug their grandmothers again, or share a laugh with a cousin during his nuptials, or seeing their babies softly to sleep with the same lullabies that their mothers had once sung to them. The tail eternity of the Atlantic Ocean had severed them so completely that it was as if nothing had ever existed before. That everything they ever knew had simply vanished from the earth with. Some could not bear the realization. They heave themselves over the walls of wooden ships to swim one last time with the ancestors. Others refused to eat miles. Plants shut until their hearts gave out. Yeah, but in the suffocating hole of a ship called the White Lion, bound for where they did not know those who refused to die understood that the men and women chained next to them in the dark. We're no longer strangers. They had been forced in trauma. They have been made black by those who believe themselves to be white and where they were headed. Black, equal, slave. So these were there, people, now, I mean, exactly. Okay. What happened here? Um I mean, we really don't know. Ah, lot. A pirate ship by the name of white lion Veils into the bay here. And they needed to trade something of value so that they could get supplies to make the rest of their journey. And what they traded word 20 to 30 Africans. And this would be at this place, um, kind of ironically called Point Comfort, where slavery in the British North American colonies that would go on to become the United States begins. So from the New York Times magazine, I'm Nicole Hannah Jones. Thesis 16. 19. Okay. Uh huh. Mm hmm. They were doing You don't want me, Thio. You're a very whatever you call it. Like that. Um, that's your happy Valentine's Day. Nicole. This is a tape for Nicole. Hello, darling. How you doing? Excuse me while I particular cancer stick. When I was a child, my dad always flew a flag in our front yard. Our house is on a corner lot and in the front yard, right in the corner was this. I couldn't tell you how tall it was. It always seemed really garishly tall to me at the time, there was a very tall aluminum flagpole. My parents didn't make a lot of money, so our house always had paint chipping. And there was always something about the house that was in disarray. You know, the grass was looking disheveled or the railing on the stairs was falling off, but the flag was always pristine. As soon as it started to show even the slightest chatter, my dad would replace the flag with a fresh new flag. He would never allow a tattered flag to fly, and I didn't understand it. I I didn't know other black kids whose parents were flying a flag in their front yard. I know a lot of white people who flew flags, lots of white people who flew flags. My dad was born on a sharecropping farm in Greenwood, Mississippi, where his family picked cotton in the same cotton fields that enslaved people had picked cotton. Not too long before. That county of Leflore County in Mississippi lynched more black people than any other county in Mississippi and Mississippi lynched more black people than any other state in the country. So it was a pretty devastatingly violent and a hard place to live. My dad's mom fled the South like millions of other black people during the Great Migration and came north toe Waterloo and found many of the same barriers that she had sought to escape. She was forced to buy ah house on the black side of town. Most jobs were unavailable to her, so she cleaned white people's houses. My father went to segregated schools on and at a young age. My father joined the military so that he could get his way out of poverty, but also for the reasons that so many black people join the military, which is he hoped that if he served his country, his country might finally see him as an American. He loved being in the army. He was stationed in Germany, picked up German very quickly. He was so smart he loved talking about that time. It was a period where he got to see things that poor black child born in Mississippi would not normally get to see. Yeah, but the military didn't end up being a way out for my dad for long. Um, he was passed up for opportunities, and the only jobs my dad ever worked were service jobs. He worked as a convenience store clerk or a bus driver. And because of that, this big, pristine American flag flying in the front of our yard was deeply embarrassing to me. And I didn't understand why he would feel that much love for a country that clearly did not love him. E felt this way. All through high school. I was no longer standing for the national anthem. I had stopped saying The Pledge of Allegiance. And really, throughout most of my adult life, I mean, clearly, I know I'm an American. I was born here, every family member for generations back that I know we're all born here, but I never felt like I could claim fully that I was an American E. But it wasn't until I really started researching and reading and thinking about this project that my own thinking started to shift that I realized my dad understood things that I never knew. I now understand for the first time why my dad was so proud to fly that flag. Yeah, yeah.
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