“It was a long time ago. When are you going to move past it?”
It’s a common refrain by those who question why the specter of slavery and reconstruction still haunts this country.
It’s been 155 years since the Civil War ended, and if you want to be strict about it 155 years since slavery ended. We already know that it would be years before slavery fully ended for a myriad of reasons. White folks can’t pretend anymore since they all celebrated Juneteenth this year.
155 years sounds like a long time ago. We’ve advanced so far from those American dark ages, haven’t we?
I was randomly scrolling through YouTube this morning and by some happenstance ended up watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
The premise of this episode “Southern Fried Rabbit” consisted of Bugs walking past the Mason Dixon line and immediately being chased back north by Yosemite Sam who was in complete confederate soldier regalia.
Bugs asks Yosemite why he chased him to which he replies, “My orders from General Lee are to hold the Mason Dixon line and no Yankee is crossing.” To which Bugs replies, “General Lee? Why the war between the states ended Almost 90 years ago.”
“Southern Fried Rabbit” First aired in 1953.
To give you some perspective. The Civil War was fought largely with muskets. The hydrogen bomb was invented in 1952. A lot can happen in a relatively short period of time.
My grandfather Eustice was born on January 2nd, 1898, thirty-three years after the end of the Civil War. If he were alive today he would be 122 years old. Fredrick Douglass died just three years prior. His father, James, was born in 1860. He was not only the child of slaves but, technically speaking he was a slave himself. James’ birth certificate has him listed as “Mulato” but that's another story for another day.
I am three people removed from slavery. A great-grandfather away from bondage.
Doesn’t seem so long ago now does it?