Modern Education is still Missing Facts

When one tells history and excludes information it is important to look at what is being excluded. Our educational system from the lowest levels to the university level is still lacking important educational material. Often, material is ignored because it would shed light on the myths that have been presented as fact. In every subject, there have been contributions by people of color, women, and others that should be made part of the American educational system we are subjected too. We should not have to wait until we get to graduate school for the truth to be revealed and many of the one-sided renditions of events be exploded. The importance of teaching the good, the bad, and the ugly is ever more important in today’s world. We must seek to reveal facts that were ignored or sugar-coated under the rules of white supremacy. The examples that follow will provide some insight as to what we were never told.

           San Antonio was not such as nice a place as some people have made it out to be. In the early 1860s, before the Civil War was officially underway, as a result of the slave owner military forces firing on Fort Sumter, a racist Ku Klux Klan group was already attacking federal forts across the South. These attacks, though hidden in Texas and southern history, were the first aggressive actions taken in the coming war. Hence Fort Sumter was not the only action to start the Civil War. Is this taught in public school? No! This group was known as the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC).  The KGC was dedicated to promoting southern rights, preserving slavery, and dedicated to creating a slave empire in a circle from the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, and the southern U.S.  Centering in Havana, this empire would be some 2,400 miles in diameter.

          Leaders of the K.G.C. argued that their empire “would have a virtual monopoly on the world’s supply of tobacco and sugar . . .  and have the strength to preserve slavery in the South from constant attacks by northern Abolitionists.”  Fortunately, these fanatical lunatics lost that opportunity when the slave owning system was crushed. In 1860, Elkanah Greer, an avowed racist, spoke at a Marshall, Texas rally and spoke of the “Foul breath of Abolitionism.” KGC offered troops if Lincoln were elected to defend the South and slavery. The KGC then called for secession from the Union, and plotted with southern governors to leave the Union if Lincoln and “black rule” succeeded. The KGC also plotted to take Federal forts across the country in the southern states and seize Federal property. The KGC plotted to seize Washington, DC to prevent the inauguration of Lincoln. Plots were also discovered to blow up the Capitol.

          Meanwhile, Texas was hijacked by the KGC to secede from the Union. John “RIP” Ford, a KGC colonel, and Texas Ranger, was the slick ringleader of a quickly held convention to leave the Union. Fifty three percent of the delegates of the Texas convention to secede came from KGC strongholds. Sam Houston warned Union General Twiggs that KGC planned to attack the Federal arsenal, which is located in the King William area in San Antonio, but General Twiggs was a traitor and a pro-slavery sympathizer.  The convention voted 152 to 6 to leave the Union. Ben McCulloch then assembled a 400 man force of criminal mercenaries on the Salado Creek and was dubbed, “McCulloch’s Army of the Knights of the Golden Circle.” This army of racist bigots and criminals reached San Antonio, and on February 16, 1860, the U.S. Flag was hauled down and replaced by the Lone Star flag, which was raised by KGC men. Wait, there is more to discover about the Civil War n Texas and slavery.

          What is the importance of all of this? Think about it and how you were raised with incomplete and misleading history. George Nelson, an archeologist and historian, and author of a well-done research book titled, “The Alamo: An Illustrated History,” found a telling piece of hidden history. He said, “One of the KGC units was called the ‘Company of Alamo Guards’ and was led by Capt. Edgar . . . . Charles T. Smith, a veteran of the Confederacy, was interviewed by the San Antonio Express newspaper in 1917, during the First World War. He stated he stood guard at the Alamo as part of Bill Edgar’s ‘Alamo Guards.’ When asked if the Alamo appeared any different during the Civil War than it does now, Mr. Smith said, ‘Yes, there were some changes. For instance, at that time there were some outside steps which led up the center of the building to the second floor. The steps ended in a platform. That platform was one of the old slave markets where Negroes were put up at auction. A stout, hardy Negro brought anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500. The thin ones were not rated so high. Men brought bigger prices than women and boys because they could pick more cotton.”

          Yet, another point! Years before the Civil War, Mexico abolished slavery in 1829 when Mexico’s black president, Vicente Guererro, issue an order abolishing the hated institution. General Santa Anna was not quite the bad guy slave owners said he was. After the Battle of the Alamo, and just ten days after the pro-slavery defenders were killed, General Santa Anna issued an order on March 20, 1836. According to George Nelson’s research, Santa Anna issued the following decree: “In compliance with said laws, the persons of all colored people, of both sexes, are from this moment declared free, and this whatever may be of nature of the contracts which bind them to their masters; should said contracts be, in a direct or indirect manner, contrary to the existing prohibitory laws of the Republic of Mexico and slave trade, in which case they shall be considered as null and of no value.”

          New research in regards to exposing the horrors of slavery and segregation is quite revealing, yet it is ignored as part of American history. Many folks, both black and white, think they know something about the horrors of slavery. They know nothing! In a 2017 book titled, “The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation,” by Daina Ramey Berry, the author reveals what happened to blacks on the auction block and what happened to their bodies in death. I am familiar with the horrors of what happened on the auction block; black mothers had their children torn away from them and sold like hogs by the pound. The price varied according to whether the slave was a male, female, or child. Dr. Berry makes it clear in her extensive research that the sale of black bodies did not end with the death of a slave but continued on after death.

          We need to understand the horrors of slavery, especially since there is a conservative move to bury the truth about how this nation was developed. The dehumanization of African Americans, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, women, and many others has not ended. Though things can be considered better now, we have yet to become a caring nation that moves beyond the past. The past still binds us to racism and injustice, and in understanding how we got to where we are now it is imperative that we understand the psyche of intolerance. In Dr. Berry’s book she explains how slave owners turned black bodies into “commodities.” We know from history that black men and women were sold like animals and beasts of burden on the auction block. Black women were used as slaves and sex objects to service the needs of white men and their families, while black men were used as slaves to be worked to death and whipped or killed if they did not produce. Even after death, black bodies were buried in black graveyards, dragged to rivers for the alligators, or chopped up for hogs to eat on the plantation. What is generally not known is that black corpses were stolen from graveyards and sold to medical schools.

       The medical schools of Virginia, Pennsylvania, John Hopkins, North Carolina and Maryland all engaged in bodysnatching. After blacks were executed or lynched, most often for some invented reason, their bodies were dug up and taken to medical schools for dissections so that white medical students could learn about the human body. In some cases, black employees at the medical school were hired to do this dirty work and were paid different amounts depending on the sex and age of the body. . One such grave robber was Chris Baker who “was employed by the Medical College of Virginia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.” Pictures of this scoundrel can be seen in Dr. Berry’s book. According to Dr. Berry’s research, black adult bodies were sold at Charlottesville medical school for twelve dollars, while “infants from birth to 8 years” sold for four dollars. Mothers and infant corpses were sold for fifteen dollars in the late 1700s and in the 1800s. 

          The American hero, Nat Turner, who led a slave rebellion for freedom in 1831, was also mutilated after he was hung. He was beheaded and his skin was used to make wallets. Nat Turner’s skull traveled across the country and was in the possession of various physicians across many years. Dr. Berry writes that immediately after his execution, “Witnesses note that Turner’s body was given to medical students (possibly from the University of Virginia or Winchester Medical School in Virginia) for dissection.” She goes on to report that, “A local doctor possessed his skeleton ‘for many years’; at some point, it was misplaced.” One man admitted to tanning the skin of Nat Turner and making it available to be seen in local shops. Several of the blacks that fought with John Brown at Harper’s Ferry, after their execution, were dug up from the cemetery and turned over to medical schools

          I have seen reports that the practice of grave robbing often utilized a paid employee that pretended to be a distance relative or a friend of the deceased, and would show up at the funeral only to rob the grave after everyone left the cemetery. This grave robber would often pretend to even cry at the funeral. In modern times, the grave of one of the little black girls killed in the KKK in the 16th Street Church bombing, Addie Mae Collins body was robbed or paved over, and her body never recovered. We must insist that our educational system tell the good, the bad, and the ugly otherwise we are being handed a distorted and incomplete narrative.

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25 Jul 2018

By Mario Salas