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Malo poznata podzemna željeznica koja je išla južno do Meksika

Malo poznata podzemna željeznica koja je išla južno do Meksika


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Podzemna željeznica išla je i prema jugu i prema sjeveru. Srećom, ropstvo je također bilo nezakonito u Meksiku.

Istraživači procjenjuju da je 5000 do 10.000 ljudi pobjeglo iz ropstva u Meksiko, kaže Maria Hammack, koja piše svoju disertaciju o ovoj temi na Sveučilištu Texas u Austinu. Ali misli da bi stvarni broj mogao biti i veći.

"To su bili tajni putevi i ako vas uhvate, bit ćete ubijeni i linčeni, pa većina ljudi nije ostavila mnogo zapisa", kaže Hammack.

Za to postoje neki dokazi tejanos, ili Meksikanci u Teksasu, djelovali su kao "kondukteri" na južnoj ruti pomažući ljudima da dođu do Meksika. Osim toga, Hammack je identificirao i Crnu ženu i dva bijelca koji su pomogli robovima da pobjegnu i pokušali im pronaći dom u Meksiku.

Meksiko je ukinuo ropstvo 1829. godine, dok je Teksas još bio dio zemlje, što je djelomično potaknulo bijele imigrante koji su držali robove da se bore za neovisnost u revoluciji u Teksasu. Nakon što su 1836. osnovali Republiku Teksas, ponovno su učinili ropstvo legalnim, a nastavilo je biti legalno kada se Teksas pridružio SAD -u kao država 1845. godine.

Robovani ljudi u Teksasu bili su svjesni da na jugu postoji zemlja u kojoj mogu pronaći različite razine slobode (iako je u Meksiku postojalo neobvezno služenje duga, to nije isto što i ropstvo pokretne stvari). Hammack je otkrio jednog odbjeglog Tomu kojeg je porobio Sam Houston. Houston je bio predsjednik Republike Texas koji se borio u revoluciji u Texasu. Nakon što je Tom prešao granicu, pridružio se meksičkoj vojsci protiv koje se Houston borio.

Odbjegli robovi stigli su u Meksiko na mnogo različitih načina. Neki su išli pješice, dok su drugi jahali konje ili se šuljali na trajektima za meksičke luke. Širile su se priče o robovima koji su prešli rijeku Rio Grande dijeleći Teksas od Meksika plutajući na balama pamuka, a nekoliko teksaških novina izvijestilo je u srpnju 1863. da su tri ropstva pobjegla na ovaj način. Čak i ako to logistički nije bilo moguće, slika plutanja prema slobodi na simbolu ropstva bila je snažna.

PROČITAJTE JOŠ: Kako je funkcionirala podzemna željeznica

No, nisu samo robovi u Teksasu našli slobodu u Meksiku. "Našao sam pojedince koji su uspjeli doći čak iz Sjeverne Karoline, Mississippija, Louisiane, Alabame", kaže Hammack.

Robovlasnici su znali da porobljeni ljudi bježe u Meksiko, a SAD su pokušale natjerati Meksiko da potpiše sporazum o odbjeglim robovima. Baš kao što je Zakon o odbjeglim robovima iz 1850. godine prisilio slobodne države da vrate bjegunce na jug, SAD su htjele da Meksiko vrati odbjegle porobljene ljude u SAD, ali Meksiko je odbio potpisati takav ugovor, inzistirajući na tome da su svi porobljeni ljudi slobodni kad su odredili nogom na tlu Meksika. Unatoč tome, neki američki vlasnici porobljenih ljudi još uvijek su unajmljivali hvatače robova da ilegalno otmu bjegunce u Meksiku.

Nije jasno koliko je organizirana južna "podzemna željeznica". Hammack kaže da su neki robovski ljudi možda našli put do Meksika bez pomoći. Drugi dokazi ukazuju na to da su tejanovi, posebno siromašni tejanovi, odigrali ulogu u pomaganju izbjeglicama da dođu u Meksiko.

Hammack i istraživačica Roseann Bacha-Garza također su identificirali mješovitu obitelj iz Alabame koja se preselila u južni Teksas blizu Rio Grande i pomogla robovima da pobjegnu u Meksiko. Supruga, Matilda Hicks, bila je bivša robinja. Njezin suprug, Nathaniel Jackson, bio je sin čovjeka na čijoj je plantaži radila.

Osim toga, neki sjevernjački abolicionisti otputovali su na jug kako bi pomogli robovima da dođu do Meksika.

"Naišao sam na abolicioniste sa sjevera koji su odlazili u Meksiko da peticiraju u Meksiku kako bi im omogućili da kupe zemlju za osnivanje kolonija za odbjegle robove i slobodne crnce", kaže Hammack. Početkom 1830 -ih, kvekerski abolicionist Benjamin Lundy "aktivno je peticirao od meksičke vlade da se omogući osnivanje kolonija za, pretpostavljam, ono što bismo sada smatrali, izbjeglicama".

Lundyjev plan o pokretanju besplatne kolonije u meksičkoj regiji Texas osujećen je odvajanjem od Meksika i legalizacijom ropstva. Kasnije, 1852., grupe seminola koje su uključivale odbjegle ropce uspješno su zatražile od meksičke vlade zemljište. "Još uvijek pripada njihovim potomcima i oni do danas žive u Meksiku", kaže Hammack.

Ove i druge izbjeglice koje bježe iz ropstva južnom "podzemnom željeznicom" svi su imali koristi od spremnosti Meksika da im pruži sigurno utočište.


Priča o podzemnoj željeznici do Meksika privlači pozornost

HOUSTON-Istražujući povijest američkog građanskog rata u južnom Teksasu, Roseann Bacha-Garza naišla je na dvije jedinstvene obitelji Jacksonovih i Webbera koji žive uz Rio Grande. Bijelci su vodili obje obitelji. Obje njihove žene bile su crne, emancipirane robinje.

No Bacha-Garza, povjesničar, pitao se što su tamo radili sredinom 1800-ih.

Dok je kopala po usmenim obiteljskim povijestima, čula je neočekivanu priču. Rančevi dviju obitelji služili su kao stanica na podzemnoj željeznici do Meksika, rekli su potomci. Diljem Teksasa i dijelova Louisiane, Alabame i Arkansasa, znanstvenici i zagovornici očuvanja rade na sastavljanju priče o uvelike zaboravljenom dijelu američke povijesti: mreži koja je pomogla tisućama crnih robova da pobjegnu u Meksiko.

"Zaista je imalo smisla što sam više čitao o tome i što sam više razmišljao o tome", rekao je Bacha-Garza o tajnoj ruti.

Poput poznatije podzemne željeznice na sjeveru, koja je pomogla odbjeglim robovima da pobjegnu u sjeverne države i Kanadu, put u suprotnom smjeru pružao je put do slobode južno od granice, kažu povjesničari. Robovani ljudi na dubokom jugu krenuli su ovim bližim putem kroz nemilosrdne šume, zatim pustinju, uz pomoć meksičkih Amerikanaca, njemačkih imigranata i biračkih crno -bijelih parova koji žive uz Rio Grande. Meksiko je ukinuo ropstvo 1829. godine, generaciju prije proglašenja emancipacije predsjednika Abrahama Lincolna.

No, koliko je organizirana Podzemna željeznica do Meksika i što se dogodilo s bivšim robovima i onima koji su im pomagali, ostaje misterija. Neke su arhive od tada uništene požarom. Mjesta povezana s rutom napuštena su.

"Veći je nego što je većina ljudi shvatila", rekao je o ruti Karl Jacoby, ko-direktor Centra za proučavanje etničke pripadnosti i rase na Sveučilištu Columbia.

Vlasnici robova objavljivali su novinske oglase koji su nudili nagrade i žalili se da njihova "imovina" vjerojatno ide u Meksiko, rekao je Jacoby. Bijeli Teksašani protjerali su meksičke Amerikance iz gradova nakon što su ih optužili da pomažu robovima u bijegu.

Mafije koje hvataju robove upustile su se u Meksiko samo kako bi se suočile s oružanim otporom u malim selima i od Crnih Seminola-ili Los Mascogosa-koji su se doselili u sjeverni Meksiko, rekao je Jacoby, autor knjige "Čudna karijera Williama Ellisa: Teksaški rob koji je postao Meksički milijunaš. "

Odbjegli robovi usvojili su španjolska imena, oženili se u meksičkim obiteljima i migrirali dublje u Meksiko - nestajući iz zapisa i povijesti.

Povjesničari su godinama znali za tajnoviti put. "Projekt Texas Runaway Slave Project" na Sveučilištu Stephen F. Austin State uključuje bazu oglasa oglasa odbjeglih robova koji detaljno opisuju opseg traga. Savezni spisateljski projekt Uprave za napredak djela u doba depresije okupio je priče u okviru svoje zbirke pripovijesti o robovima, uključujući i one bivših robova koji su otvoreno govorili o podzemnoj željeznici do Meksika. Bivši teksaški rob Felix Haywood rekao je primjerice onima s kojima je razgovarano 1936. da će se robovi nasmijati prijedlogu da trebaju pobjeći na sjever radi slobode.

"Sve što smo trebali učiniti je hodati, ali hodati prema jugu i bili bismo slobodni čim bismo prešli Rio Grande", rekao je Haywood.

A 2010. godine, američka služba za nacionalne parkove zacrtala je rutu od Natchitoches -a, Louisiana, preko Teksasa do Monclove, Meksiko, koja bi se mogla smatrati grubom stazom podzemne željeznice prema jugu. Zakon koji je predsjednik George W. Bush potpisao šest godina ranije označio je El Camino Real de los Tejas nacionalnom povijesnom stazom i potaknuo razvoj partnerstva kako bi se stvorilo više razumijevanja oko ovog zanemarenog puta slobode.

No ova podzemna željeznica tek počinje ulaziti u svijest javnosti jer SAD postaju sve raznovrsniji i sve više ljudi pokazuje interes za proučavanje ropstva, rekla je Bacha-Garza, voditeljica programa za povijesnu arheologiju Sveučilišta u Teksasu Rio Grande Valley sa školama u Edinburgu u Teksasu.

Bacha-Garza je rekao da je Nathaniel Jackson, bijeli južnjak, otkupio slobodu Matilde Hicks, crne robinje koja mu je bila draga iz djetinjstva, kao i Hicksove obitelji. Jackson se oženio Hicksom i preselio se iz Alabame u Teksas prije američkog građanskog rata. Tamo su, uz Rio Grande, naišli na još jedan birački par, Johna Ferdinanda Webbera rođenog u Vermontu i Silviju Hector, koja je bila crnka i također bivša robinja.

Ispitivanje Podzemne željeznice do Meksika dolazi dok se SAD nalazi na rasnom računanju oko policije i sustavnog rasizma. Također, ove godine Meksiko je prvi put u svom popisu uvrstio svoje afro-meksičko stanovništvo kao svoju kategoriju.

Tijekom posljednjih 50 godina, područja afroameričkih i Chicano studija doživjela su procvat revolucionarnim istraživanjima i novim radom koji redefinira američko iskustvo. No rijetko kada ta dva područja stupaju u interakciju izvan napetosti u vezi s građanskim pravima u 20. stoljeću, rekao je Ron Wilkins, nedavno umirovljeni profesor studija Afrike i povijesti s Kalifornijskog državnog sveučilišta, Dominguez Hills.

Kao rezultat toga, priče o Afroamerikancima i Meksičkim Amerikancima ne rade zajedno u borbi protiv rasizma, rekao je Wilkins, uključujući povijest Podzemne željeznice do Meksika.

"Da poznajemo ovu povijest, okupili bismo se i ojačali tu solidarnost", rekao je Wilkins, bivši član Studentskog nenasilnog koordinacijskog odbora.

Neke meksičko -američke obitelji nalaze se u neugodnim razgovorima o rasi uslijed novootkrivene svijesti o podzemnoj željeznici do Meksika. Ramiro Ramirez (72), psiholog, rančer i potomak Jacksonovih, rekao je da su se članovi obitelji često svađali kada su saznali da je Matilda Jackson bivša robinja i da su imali "crnu krv".

“Bio sam jako ponosan. Ali bio sam i jako ljut ”, rekao je Ramirez, koji živi u pograničnom gradu Mercedes u Teksasu. “Čak i nakon 200 godina, rasizam je vrlo jak. Ljudi ne žele pričati o tome. ”

Rekao je da bi volio upoznati potomke robova koji su uz pomoć svoje obitelji pobjegli u Meksiko. Zamišlja ih kako izgledaju poput njega, ali s različitim životima južno od granice.


Podzemna željeznica do Meksika: Drugi put bijega iz ropstva

HOUSTON (AP)-Istražujući povijest američkog građanskog rata u južnom Teksasu, Roseann Bacha-Garza naišla je na dvije jedinstvene obitelji Jacksonovih i Webbera koji žive uz Rio Grande. Bijelci su vodili obje obitelji. Obje njihove žene bile su crne, emancipirane robinje. No Bacha-Garza, povjesničar, pitao se što su tamo radili sredinom 1800-ih.

Dok je kopala po usmenim obiteljskim povijestima, čula je neočekivanu priču. Rančevi dviju obitelji služili su kao stanica na podzemnoj željeznici do Meksika, rekli su potomci. Diljem Teksasa i dijelova Louisiane, Alabame i Arkansasa, znanstvenici i zagovornici očuvanja rade na sastavljanju priče o uvelike zaboravljenom dijelu američke povijesti: mreži koja je pomogla tisućama crnih robova da pobjegnu u Meksiko.

"Zaista je imalo smisla što sam više čitao o tome i što sam više razmišljao o tome", rekao je Bacha-Garza o tajnoj ruti.

Na ovoj fotografiji od 27. rujna 2017., predsjednica Koalicije za očuvanje grada Freedmen's#8217s Doris Ellis Robinson (desno) i Catherine Roberts (lijevo) pregledavaju maketu grada Freedmen's#, područja koje su izgradili emancipirani robovi nakon građanskog rata, godine. Houston. Vjeruje se da je to područje bilo povezano podzemnom željeznicom do Meksika. | Russell Contreras / AP

Poput poznatije podzemne željeznice na sjeveru, koja je odbjeglim robovima pomogla u bijegu u sjeverne države i Kanadu, put u suprotnom smjeru pružao je put do slobode južno od granice, kažu povjesničari. Robovani ljudi na dubokom jugu krenuli su ovim bližim putem kroz nemilosrdne šume, a zatim pustinju, uz pomoć meksičkih Amerikanaca, njemačkih imigranata i međurasnih crno -bijelih parova koji žive uz Rio Grande. Meksiko je ukinuo ropstvo 1829. godine, generaciju prije proglašenja emancipacije predsjednika Abrahama Lincolna.

No, koliko je organizirana Podzemna željeznica do Meksika i što se dogodilo s bivšim robovima i onima koji su im pomagali, ostaje misterija. Neke su arhive od tada uništene požarom. Mjesta povezana s rutom napuštena su.

"Veći je nego što je većina ljudi shvatila", rekao je o ruti Karl Jacoby, ko-direktor Centra za proučavanje etničke pripadnosti i rase na Sveučilištu Columbia.

Vlasnici robova objavljivali su novinske oglase koji su nudili nagrade i žalili se da njihova "imovina" vjerojatno ide u Meksiko, rekao je Jacoby. Bijeli Teksašani protjerali su meksičke Amerikance iz gradova nakon što su ih optužili da pomažu robovima u bijegu.

Mafije koje hvataju robove upustile su se u Meksiko samo kako bi se suočile s oružanim otporom u malim selima i od Crnih Seminola-ili Los Mascogosa-koji su se doselili u sjeverni Meksiko, rekao je Jacoby, autor knjige Čudna karijera Williama Ellisa: Teksaški rob koji je postao meksički milijunaš.

Odbjegli robovi usvojili su španjolska imena, oženili se u meksičkim obiteljima i migrirali dublje u Meksiko - nestajući iz zapisa i povijesti.

Povjesničari su godinama znali za tajnoviti put. "Projekt Texas Runaway Slave Project" na Sveučilištu Stephen F. Austin State uključuje bazu oglasa oglasa odbjeglih robova koji detaljno opisuju opseg traga. Savezni spisateljski projekt Uprave za napredak djela u doba depresije okupio je priče u okviru svoje zbirke pripovijesti o robovima, uključujući i one bivših robova koji su otvoreno govorili o podzemnoj željeznici do Meksika. Bivši teksaški rob Felix Haywood rekao je primjerice onima s kojima je razgovarano 1936. da će se robovi nasmijati prijedlogu da trebaju pobjeći na sjever radi slobode.

"Sve što smo trebali učiniti je hodati, ali hodati prema jugu i bili bismo slobodni čim pređemo Rio Grande", rekao je Haywood.

A 2010. godine, američka služba za nacionalne parkove zacrtala je rutu od Natchitochesa u Louisiani preko Teksasa do Monclove u Meksiku koja bi se mogla smatrati grubom stazom podzemne željeznice prema jugu. Zakon koji je predsjednik George W. Bush potpisao šest godina ranije označio je El Camino Real de los Tejas nacionalnom povijesnom stazom i potaknuo razvoj partnerstva kako bi se stvorilo više razumijevanja oko ovog zanemarenog puta slobode.

No ova podzemna željeznica tek počinje ulaziti u svijest javnosti jer SAD postaju sve raznovrsniji i sve više ljudi pokazuje interes za proučavanje ropstva, rekla je Bacha-Garza, voditeljica programa za povijesnu arheologiju Sveučilišta u Teksasu Rio Grande Valley sa školama u Edinburgu u Teksasu.

Bacha-Garza je rekao da je Nathaniel Jackson, bijeli južnjak, kupio slobodu Matilde Hicks, crnke robinje koja mu je bila draga iz djetinjstva, kao i Hicksove obitelji. Jackson se oženio Hicksom i preselio se iz Alabame u Teksas prije američkog građanskog rata. Tamo su, uz Rio Grande, naišli na još jedan međurasni par, Johna Ferdinanda Webbera rođenog u Vermontu i Silviju Hector, koja je bila crnka i također bivša robinja.

Ispitivanje Podzemne željeznice do Meksika dolazi dok se SAD nalazi na rasnom računanju oko policije i sustavnog rasizma. Također, ove godine Meksiko je prvi put u svom popisu uvrstio svoje afro-meksičko stanovništvo kao svoju kategoriju.

Tijekom posljednjih 50 godina, područja afroameričkih i Chicano studija doživjela su procvat revolucionarnim istraživanjima i novim radom koji redefinira američko iskustvo. No rijetko kada ta dva područja uzajamno djeluju izvan napetosti u vezi s građanskim pravima u 20. stoljeću, rekao je Ron Wilkins, nedavno umirovljeni profesor studija Afrike i povijesti s Kalifornijskog državnog sveučilišta, Dominguez Hills.

Na ovoj fotografiji od 27. rujna 2017. nalaze se kaldrmisane ulice Freedmen's Town -a, područja koje su izgradili emancipirani robovi nakon građanskog rata u Houstonu. Vjeruje se da je to područje bilo povezano podzemnom željeznicom do Meksika. | Russell Contreras / AP

Kao rezultat toga, priče o Afroamerikancima i Meksičkim Amerikancima ne rade zajedno u borbi protiv rasizma, rekao je Wilkins, uključujući povijest Podzemne željeznice do Meksika.

"Da poznajemo ovu povijest, okupili bismo se i ojačali tu solidarnost", rekao je Wilkins, bivši član Studentskog nenasilnog koordinacijskog odbora.

Neke meksičko -američke obitelji nalaze se u neugodnim razgovorima o rasi uslijed novootkrivene svijesti o podzemnoj željeznici do Meksika. Ramiro Ramirez (72), psiholog, rančer i potomak Jacksonovih, rekao je da su se članovi obitelji često svađali kada su saznali da je Matilda Jackson bivša robinja i da su imali "crnu krv".

“Bio sam jako ponosan. Ali bio sam i jako ljut ”, rekao je Ramirez, koji živi u pograničnom gradu Mercedes u Teksasu. “Čak i nakon 200 godina, rasizam je vrlo jak. Ljudi ne žele pričati o tome. ”

Rekao je da bi volio upoznati potomke robova koji su uz pomoć svoje obitelji pobjegli u Meksiko. Zamišlja ih kako izgledaju poput njega, ali s različitim životima južno od granice.


POVIJESNA ČINJENICA: Prva podzemna željeznica prolazila je JUGO 100 i više godina

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Iako je većina Amerikanaca upoznata s Podzemna željeznica to je pomoglo južnim robovima da pobjegnu na sjever prije Građanski rat, prvi tajni put nacije do slobode tekao je više od stoljeća u suprotnom smjeru.

‘LIKE ’ FB stranica NewsOne ’s Da biste ostali u toku sa crnim vijestima iz cijelog svijeta

Priče o toj manje poznatoj “railroad ” bit će podijeljene od 20. do 24. lipnja u Nacionalna konferencija podzemnih željeznica u St. Augustineu, Fla. Mreža simpatizera dala je utočište onima koji bježe od svojih gospodara, uključujući mnoge američke Indijance koji su pomogli robovima da pobjegnu na tadašnje španjolsko područje Floride. To je trajalo od ubrzo nakon osnutka kolonije Carolina 1670. do nakon Američke revolucije.

Pobjegli su ne samo na jug, već i u Meksiko, na Karibe i na američki zapad.

A “railroad ” pomaže barem djelomično objasniti zašto trajna kultura robovskih potomaka – poznata kao Gullah u Južnoj Karolini i Geechee na Floridi i u Georgiji – postoji uz sjeveroistočnu obalu Floride.

“To je#fascinantna priča i većina ljudi u Americi je zaglavila – ili su zaglavili 1964. i Zakon o građanskim pravima ili su zaglavili na Građanski rat, ” rekao je Derek Hankerson, koji je potomak Gullaha i vlasnik malog poduzeća u St. Augustineu, Fla. “ Željni smo podijeliti ove priče. ”

Budući da ima malo zapisa, nije poznato koliko je afričkih robova možda pobjeglo uz željezničku prugu. Ali san o slobodi na Floridi odigrao je svoju ulogu u 1739. Stonska pobuna izvan Charlestona, najveća pobuna robova u britanskoj Sjevernoj Americi.

Robovi su vjerojatno počeli bježati prema Floridi kada je 1670. osnovana Južna Karolina, rekla je Jane Landers, povjesničarka sa Sveučilišta Vanderbilt koja je opsežno istraživala tu temu. Prvi se spominjanje odbjeglih robova u španjolskim zapisima spominje 1687. godine kada se osam robova, uključujući i dojilje, pojavilo u svetom Augustinu.

Španjolska ih odbija vratiti i umjesto toga daje im vjersko utočište, a ta je politika formalizirana 1693. Jedini je uvjet da oni koji traže utočište pređu u katoličanstvo.

“To je bio potpuni pomak u geopolitici Kariba i nakon toga ga dobiva svatko tko napusti protestantsko područje da zatraži utočište, rekao je Landers.

To obećanje slobode imalo je važnu ulogu u pobuni Stono, kada je skupina od 20 -ak robova upala u trgovinu, prikupljajući oružje i drugo oružje, u rujnu 1739. godine.

Mark Smith, povjesničar sa Sveučilišta Južna Karolina, rekao je da su vođe robova iz današnje Angole u Africi. Bili su katolici, jer je njihova domovina u to vrijeme bila portugalska predstraža. Smatra se da su u svojoj rodnoj zemlji bili vojnici.

Oni bi znali za glasine o slobodi na španjolskoj Floridi i odlučili su započeti pobunu 9. rujna, na blagdan Rođenja Blažene Djevice Marije.

“Imaju bijelu zastavu, koja nije zastava predaje. To je zastava slavljenja Marije i uzvikuju "Sloboda." Ne bune se samo kao robovi, već kao katolički robovi, rekao je Smith.

Najmanje 20 bijelaca je ubijeno u pobuni. Milicija je kasnije sustigla robove i 34 ih je ubijeno. Neki koji su pobjegli kasnije su pronađeni i pogubljeni, iako su neki očito uspjeli doći na sigurno u Floridu jer postoje izvještaji o tome da je narednih dana u St. Augustine stiglo još robova, rekao je Landers.

Gullah creole se još uvijek govori u crkvama na sjeveroistoku Floride, rekao je Landers.

Hankerson, koji je odrastao uz priče o podzemnoj željeznici, rekao je da su odbjegli robovi dobili pomoć od američkih indijanskih plemena, uključujući Creeke, Cherokees i Yemassee. Također su napredovali dublje u Floridu i našli utočište kod Seminola.

Osim otprilike 20 godina kada su Britanci držali Svetog Augustina između kraja Francuskog i Indijskog rata do kraja Američke revolucije, španjolska je politika svetišta ostala na snazi ​​sve do 1790. kada je državni tajnik Thomas Jefferson uvjerio španjolsku krunu da završi to. Mnogi su bjegunci pobjegli usred kaosa i nasilja revolucije, a održavanje tog hodnika otvorenim moglo je iscrpiti južne kolonije robova, rekao je Landers.

Za razliku od podzemne željeznice koja ide prema sjeveru, rana mreža bila je neformalnija: ni robovi ni autohtona plemena koja su im pomogla nisu ostavili pisane zapise, a nije bilo ni crkvene strukture poput kvakera koji su organizirali taj napor, rekao je Landers. Ne zna se točno koliko ih je ostalo među američkim Indijancima ili koliko ih je umrlo.

Britanci su robove smatrali imovinom i radom za svoje plantaže i nudili su nagrade za njihov povratak.

Nasuprot tome, rekao je Landers, "Španjolci vjeruju da se starosjedilački narod i Afrikanci mogu obratiti, pa su kao takvi bili ljudi i da su morali spasiti obitelji i duše."


LibertyVoter.Org


Odbjegli rob, slikao John Adam Houston.

Podzemna željeznica išla je i prema jugu i prema sjeveru. Robovima u Teksasu utočište u Kanadi moralo se činiti nemoguće daleko. Srećom, ropstvo je također bilo nezakonito u Meksiku.

Istraživači procjenjuju da je 5000 do 10.000 ljudi pobjeglo iz ropstva u Meksiko, kaže Maria Hammack, koja piše svoju disertaciju o ovoj temi na Sveučilištu Texas u Austinu. Ali misli da bi stvarni broj mogao biti i veći.

"To su bili tajni putevi i ako vas uhvate, bit ćete ubijeni i linčeni, pa većina ljudi nije ostavila mnogo zapisa", kaže Hammack.

Za to postoje neki dokazi tejanos, ili Meksikanci u Teksasu, djelovali su kao "kondukteri" na južnoj ruti pomažući ljudima da dođu do Meksika. Osim toga, Hammack je također identificirao crnu ženu i dva bijelca koji su pomogli robovima da pobjegnu i pokušali im pronaći dom u Meksiku.


Aukcija robova u Austinu u Teksasu.

Meksiko je ukinuo ropstvo 1829. godine, dok je Teksas još bio dio zemlje, što je potaknulo bijele imigrante koji su držali robove da se bore za neovisnost u revoluciji u Teksasu. Nakon što su 1836. osnovali Republiku Teksas, ponovno su učinili ropstvo legalnim, a nastavilo je biti legalno kada se Teksas pridružio SAD -u kao država 1845. godine.

Robovani ljudi u Teksasu bili su svjesni da na jugu postoji zemlja u kojoj mogu pronaći različite razine slobode (iako je u Meksiku postojalo neobvezno ropstvo, to nije isto što i ropstvo pokretne stvari). Hammack je otkrio jednog odbjeglog Tomu kojeg je porobio Sam Houston. Houston je bio predsjednik Republike Texas koji se borio u revoluciji u Texasu. Nakon što je Tom prešao granicu, pridružio se meksičkoj vojsci protiv koje se Houston borio.

Robovani ljudi stigli su u Meksiko na mnogo različitih načina. Neki su išli pješice, dok su drugi jahali konje ili se šuljali na trajektima za meksičke luke. Širile su se priče o robovima koji su prešli rijeku Rio Grande dijeleći Teksas od Meksika plutajući na balama pamuka, a nekoliko teksaških novina izvijestilo je u srpnju 1863. da su tri ropstva pobjegla na ovaj način. Čak i ako to logistički nije bilo moguće, slika plutanja prema slobodi na simbolu ropstva bila je snažna.

Odbjegli robovi (TV-PG 1:57)

No, nisu samo robovi u Teksasu našli slobodu u Meksiku. …Pročitajte više


Jug do slobode

Podzemna željeznica također je išla prema jugu-ne natrag prema robovlasničkim državama, već dalje od njih u Meksiko, koji je počeo ograničavati ropstvo 1820-ih i konačno ga ukinuo 1829, trideset i četiri godine prije proglašenja Abrahama Lincolna o emancipaciji.

Možda je ovo povijest, ali mnogima dolazi na vijest da posjete izložbu "Putevi do slobode" u Detroitskom muzeju afričke povijesti Charlesa Wrighta, koja će biti otvorena do 31. ožujka. "Većina ljudi je iznenađena", kaže Patrina Chatman, muzejska kustos izložbi. Iako postoji obilna dokumentacija, a da ne govorimo o folkloru, koja se odnosi na mrežu vodiča i utočišta koja su pomogla robovima da pobjegnu na slobodu u sjevernim državama i Kanadi, zapis je manje bogat o podzemnoj željeznici koja je vodila do Meksika.

"Te priče nisu ispričane", kaže Patricia Ann Talley, "jer su te priče završile na španjolskom." No, čak ni u Meksiku priče nisu nadaleko poznate, nastavlja Talley, domorodac Detroita i Afroamerikanac koji živi u Meksiku i koji je s Candelarijom Donaji Mendez Tello, Afro-Meksikankom, inicirao izložbu "Putevi do slobode". Njih su se dvoje upoznali na festivalu mira u Meksiku 2010. godine i postali prijatelji. Do tada, kaže Talley, "nikad nisam razmišljao o Afro-Meksikancima." Izložba, koju je djelomično financiralo Vijeće za humanističke znanosti u Michiganu, naglašava zajednička iskustva i povijest crnih Amerikanaca i crnih Meksikanaca. "Nisam shvaćao", kaže Talley, "koliko je afrička rasa bogata u Meksiku", ali ubrzo je saznala da je čak više Afrikanaca dovedeno kao robovi u kolonijalni Meksiko nego što je dovedeno u kolonijalnu Ameriku.

S ropstvom je došla želja za slobodom, i tu se okreće priča o "Putevima do slobode", prilagođavajući svoj objektiv prema Meksiku. "Kad čujem da se primijenio izraz" Podzemna željeznica ", ne žalim se", kaže povjesničar Sean M. Kelley, "ali to nije bilo ni izbliza tako dobro organizirano" kao što je bila poznata operacija koja je vodila u Kanadu. Kelley, izvanredni profesor povijesti na koledžu Hartwick u Oneonti u New Yorku, pisao je o ropstvu duž granice između Teksasa i Meksika.

Putovi bijega u Meksiko "bili su poznati među robovima u Teksasu", kaže Kelley, a takva je bila i politička stvarnost da "postoji ova druga republika i da su se riješili ropstva". Meksiko je stekao neovisnost od Španjolske 1821. nakon dugotrajne pobune i počeo donositi mjere protiv ropstva, konačno ga zabranivši 1829. godine dekretom tadašnjeg predsjednika Vicentea Guerrera, koji je možda i sam bio afričkog podrijetla.

Iako je Meksiko zabranio ropstvo, Teksas, tadašnja kolonija Meksika, držao je svoje robove. U stvari, ropstvo je bilo jedan od uzroka revolucije koja je dovela do neovisnosti Teksasa 1836. Teksas je primljen u Sjedinjene Države 1845. kao robska država i broj robova tamo se eksponencijalno povećao.

Većina robova koji su pobjegli u Meksiko došli su iz Teksasa, a u manjoj mjeri iz Louisiane, primjećuje Kelley, baš kao što je većina onih koji su pobjegli na sjever došla iz susjednih sjevernih država. Put do slobode u Meksiku, čak i iz Teksasa, bio je "dug, težak i opasan", kaže Kelley. Baš kao što nema čvrstih podataka o tome koliko je robova izbjeglo u Kanadu - procjene se kreću od 30.000 do 100.000 - ne postoje pouzdani podaci o tome koliko ih je pobjeglo u Meksiko. Teksaški rendžer u devetnaestom stoljeću dao je brojku od četiri tisuće, ali "kvantificiranje se to nikada neće dogoditi", kaže Kelley.

Podzemna željeznica koja je vodila do Meksika nije imala poznati analog s Harriet Tubman, bivšom robinjom, koja je u desetak putovanja dovela sedamdesetak ljudi na slobodu, ali Teksas je imao svoje osloboditelje. "Bilo je saučesništva od strane Tejanosa [Hispanjolci Teksašani] i nekih Nijemaca" koji su se nastanili u Teksasu, kaže Kelley.

Bilo na španjolskom ili engleskom jeziku, verzija podzemne željeznice na jugozapadu proizvela je barem jednu nezaboravnu priču: priču o čovjeku koji je na balu pamuka lebdio na slobodi preko Rio Grandea. Kelley to dovodi u pitanje ("čak ni ne znam da li pamuk pluta"), ali smatra da je račun "značajan izvan" svake autentifikacije. "Priča postoji, ona nešto znači", kaže on, da bi čovjek mogao otploviti na slobodu na samoj robi koja je rodila njegovo porobljavanje.

Martin Kohn je književnik, kazališni kritičar, urednik, pjevač-gitarist i nastavnik novinarstva na Sveučilištu Michigan State.


Poglavlje u povijesti SAD -a često se zanemaruje: bijeg odbjeglih robova u Meksiko

Roseann Bacha-Garza (lijevo), povjesničarka pograničnih područja, stoji s Olgom Webber-Vasques na grobu potonjeg pradjeda, abolicionista Johna Ferdinanda Webbera, na obiteljskom groblju. John Burnett/NPR sakrij natpis

Roseann Bacha-Garza (lijevo), povjesničarka pograničnih područja, stoji s Olgom Webber-Vasques na grobu potonjeg pradjeda, abolicionista Johna Ferdinanda Webbera, na obiteljskom groblju.

Na zaboravljenom groblju na rubu Teksasa u delti Rio Grande, Olga Webber-Vasques kaže da je ponosna na ostavštinu svoje obitelji-čak i ako je tek saznala cijelu priču.

Ispostavilo se da su njezini prapradjedovi, koji su tamo pokopani, bili agenti u malo poznatoj podzemnoj željeznici koja je vodila kroz južni Teksas do Meksika tijekom 1800-ih. Tisuće porobljenih ljudi pobjeglo je s plantaža na put do Rio Grandea, koji je postao rijeka oslobođenja.

"I don't know why there wasn't anything that we would've known as we were growing up. It amazes me to learn the underground deal — I had no idea at all," says Webber-Vasques, 70, who recently learned the story of her forebear John Ferdinand Webber from her daughter-in-law who has researched family history.

"I'm very proud to be a Webber," she says.

The flight of runaway slaves to Mexico is a chapter of history that is often overlooked or ignored. As the U.S. Treasury ponders putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill to commemorate her role in the northbound underground railroad, new attention is being paid to this southbound route.

Alice Baumgartner, a historian at the University of Southern California, is at the forefront of a burst of recent scholarship. A number of researchers are expanding knowledge of the important role that Mexico played in providing a refuge for enslaved people.

Alice Baumgartner, a historian at the University of Southern California, is the author of a groundbreaking new book, South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War. Paul Luke sakrij natpis

Alice Baumgartner, a historian at the University of Southern California, is the author of a groundbreaking new book, South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War.

Mexico represented liberty

Baumgartner's groundbreaking new book, South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War, was published late last year. She says Mexico in the 19th century is often regarded as "a place defined by poverty and political instability and violence" — and is rarely given credit for its role in providing a safe haven for runaway slaves.

"This history is to me most surprising because it shows us the side of Mexico as a place that actually was contributing to global debates about slavery and freedom," Baumgartner says.

From the 1830s up to emancipation, she estimates 3,000 to 5,000 enslaved people fled south and crossed over to free Mexican soil. That is far fewer than the estimated 30,000 to 100,000 enslaved people who crossed the Mason-Dixon line to reach free northern states and Canada.

But from the vantage of an East Texas plantation, liberty was a lot closer in Mexico.

Enslaved sailors and stowaways from New Orleans and Galveston, Texas, jumped ship in Mexican ports. Slaves drove wagons of cotton to market in Brownsville, Texas, and then slipped across the muddy river to Matamoros, Mexico. But their main mode of transportation was on horseback traversing the vast, feral stretches of South Texas down to the border.

"Sometimes someone would come 'long and try to get us to run up north and be free. We used to laugh at that," said former slave Felix Haywood, interviewed in 1937 for the federal Slave Narrative Project.

Haywood was 92 at the time, blind, white-haired and weather-beaten. He was born into slavery and as a young man tended cattle and sheep for ranchers around San Antonio.

Former slave Felix Haywood, 92 years old when he was photographed in San Antonio in 1937, told an interviewer, "All we had to do was to walk, but walk south, and we'd be free as soon as we crossed the Rio Grande." Kongresna knjižnica sakrij natpis

Former slave Felix Haywood, 92 years old when he was photographed in San Antonio in 1937, told an interviewer, "All we had to do was to walk, but walk south, and we'd be free as soon as we crossed the Rio Grande."

"There wasn't no reason to run up north," he continued in the interview. "All we had to do was to walk, but walk south, and we'd be free as soon as we crossed the Rio Grande. In Mexico, you could be free. They didn't care what color you was — black, white, yellow or blue. Hundreds of slaves did go to Mexico and got on all right."

Pathways to get to the Rio Grande

While the northbound underground railroad depended on a network of people who sheltered and aided fugitive slaves, the southern route was more informal.

"We didn't have a conductor like a Harriet Tubman, and we didn't have a certain station like they did in Philadelphia where they could live and make some money," says Roseann Bacha-Garza, a borderlands historian at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and one of the few experts on the southern route to freedom.

"What we did have down here were pathways that people could follow to get to the Rio Grande."

There were, however, abolitionists on the border who could be counted on to help Black people escape the southwestern extreme of the slave South.

In the Webber Cemetery lie the remains of John Webber and his wife, Silvia Hector Webber. The cemetery is situated just north of the twisting Rio Grande, near the town of Donna, Texas.

Webber was a white settler new to Texas who fell in love with Hector, an enslaved woman. They had three children together, and he bought their freedom from his business partner. They homesteaded in the hamlet that now bears his name — Webberville, east of Austin.

But Texas was still a slave state. And the suffocating racial codes of antebellum Texas eventually drove the family away. They moved to the Rio Grande Valley, where they bought a ranch just downstream from another interracial abolitionist family — Nathaniel Jackson and his African American wife, Matilda Hicks Jackson.

Both the Webbers and the Jacksons were well-known in the clandestine grapevine of runaways.

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"They knew they were sympathetic to their cause," Bacha-Garza says. "The families had their own licensed ferry landings on their properties, which made it very easy for them to shepherd these runaway slaves across the river into free Mexico."

The breakneck flight from an East Texas cotton plantation to the border was a perilous journey. Runaway slaves had to survive the Nueces Strip, the 160-mile expanse between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. It's the same treacherous ranchland where today immigration agents find the scattered bones of unauthorized migrants who perished on the trek north.

"It's a dry, parched landscape. There's not many trees. No matter what time of year, it is hot, hot, hot," Bacha-Garza says. "No running streams, snakes, scorpions. It was not an easy trip, but it was a doable trip."

Kyle Ainsworth, project director of the Texas Runaway Slave Project, searches for notices about fugitive slaves in 19th-century Texas newspapers. His project is housed at the East Texas Research Center at Stephen F. Austin State University. John Burnett/NPR sakrij natpis

Kyle Ainsworth, project director of the Texas Runaway Slave Project, searches for notices about fugitive slaves in 19th-century Texas newspapers. His project is housed at the East Texas Research Center at Stephen F. Austin State University.

Back then, the borderlands were different from the rest of slaveholding Texas. A white man, his Black wife and their children could live in peace.

"Along the river, you don't see the deeply ingrained racism because the river has been home to a mixture of people — mestizos, mulattoes," says Francisco Guajardo, CEO of the Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg. "The river is a place of tolerance, believe it or not. The racial codes were not enforced down here because there was nobody to enforce them."

Most fugitive slaves in Texas did run south — a fact known, in part, through the painstaking work being done by the Texas Runaway Slave Project, housed at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. Researchers looked through nearly 19,000 Texas newspapers from the 1840s through the 1860s.

"And it's from this research that we've been able to find so much about runaway slaves escaping to Mexico," says project director Kyle Ainsworth.

On his computer, he reads an item in the Galveston Weekly News from May 11, 1858. "$25 Reward. Ran away on the 19th of April, from W.T. Stevens' plantation . a Mulatto Boy, named Tom, about 28 years old. . Was raised in Milam county, Texas . and he is supposed to be there or on his way to Mexico."

Researchers are learning about the flight of enslaved people to Mexico by unearthing notices like this one that appeared in the Galveston Weekly News in 1858. East Texas Digital Archives/Stephen F. Austin State University sakrij natpis

Mexico began to gradually abolish slavery soon after it declared independence from Spain in 1821. The Mexican Congress fully outlawed slavery in 1837, well before the United States did so with the 13th Amendment in 1865.

Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836 and eventually joined the U.S. as a slave state. Mexico lost again in the Mexican-American War, and the Rio Grande became the southern boundary of the United States.

Baumgartner says Mexico's abolition of slavery exerted a gravitational pull on enslaved people in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi as King Cotton was expanding.

So while Mexico lost huge expanses of its territory in the wars, she says its anti-slavery position gave it a sort of "moral capital."

"Mexico was much less powerful than the United States, but anti-slavery gave it a way to find victory in defeat. The United States being this aggressive, slaveholding conquering nation and Mexico as this country that could actually stand upright before the civilized world for its anti-slavery positions."

Mexico did have a system of forced labor even after it abolished slavery. Hacienda owners depended on debt peonage to keep their workers in bondage, and some considered that a form of slavery.

But many Mexicans were sympathetic to fugitive slaves from Texas and the United States, according to María Hammack, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin.

In fact, Mexicans would often put up a fight against vigilantes and bounty hunters from Texas looking for escaped slaves who had crossed over the river to free Mexican soil.

"Mexican authorities at times would help the now-free men and women in Mexico from being taken and returned back to the United States," says Hammack, who is writing her dissertation on the Webber family and how fugitive slaves gained freedom in Mexico.

Moreover, Mexican laborers working in Texas befriended slaves and acted as guides to help them escape south. This happened so often that enslavers came to distrust any Mexican.

"Under Texas law, Mexicans and enslaved persons were not allowed to be found together or to collaborate or even speak to each other," Hammack says.

She says that when she was growing up in Los Mochis in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, she never learned about the outsize role that her country played in Texas slavery.

María Hammack, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin, has unearthed the story of Silvia Hector Webber, an enslaved woman who became an abolitionist in the Texas-Mexico borderlands. John Burnett/NPR sakrij natpis

María Hammack, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin, has unearthed the story of Silvia Hector Webber, an enslaved woman who became an abolitionist in the Texas-Mexico borderlands.

"I didn't know that Mexico was a safe haven for individuals to find freedom in the 19th century."

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that Texas changed the way students learn about the Civil War. They're now taught that slavery did play a central role in the war.

But slaveholding was also a driving force in the Texas Revolution, and historians note that this is still downplayed in celebrations of Texas Independence Day. On Tuesday, the state marks 185 years since declaring independence from Mexico.

Historians point out that some enslaved people saw Mexican troops as their liberators and that slaves fled to the ranks of the retreating Mexican army, hoping to make it to free Mexico, after the decisive Battle of San Jacinto, near present-day Houston.

Educators in Texas may be eager to include the southbound underground railroad into their classrooms, if Alaine Hutson is a barometer. She's a history professor at Huston-Tillotson University, a historically Black college in Austin.

While Hutson says she knew Mexico had outlawed slavery before the U.S. did, she did not know the full history of the southbound route to freedom.

She says this new material fits into a theme she always emphasizes with her students — that African Americans throughout history have been architects of their own liberation, like the former slave turned abolitionist Silvia Hector Webber.

"African Americans during slavery, after slavery, during Reconstruction, during Jim Crow and after Jim Crow, and some would say into the new Jim Crow, have always tried to decide as much about our fate as possible," Hutson says.

"And so it was nice to see that African Americans in Texas had the opportunity to help people get away to Mexico. And so Silvia and her family were doing that here in Texas."

Hutson began teaching this history to her African American studies class at Huston-Tillotson this year. During a recent Zoom class, she asked her students to reflect on it.

"The thing that really caught my eye was that African Americans were going to another country and actually treated better, knowing we had freedoms in Mexico that we didn't have in the United States," says Duntavian Thomas, a 24-year-old kinesiology major from Nacogdoches. "As soon as African Americans touched down on Mexican soil, we were free."


Myth Battles Counter-Myth

The appeal of romance and fancy in stories of the Underground Railroad can be traced to the latter decades of the 19th century, when the South was winning the battle of popular memory over the meaning of the Civil War — sending Lost Cause mythology deep into the national psyche and eventually helping to propel the Virginia-born racist Woodrow Wilson into the White House. In the face of a dominating Southern interpretation of the meaning of the Civil War, many white Northerners sought to preserve a heroic version of their past and found a useful tool in legends of the Underground Railroad.

Often well-meaning white people crafted “romantic adventure stories — about themselves,” as Blight puts it, stories that placed white “conductors” in heroic and romantic roles in the struggle for black freedom, stealing agency from supposedly helpless and nameless African Americans (who braved the real dangers), a counterpart to popular images of a saintly, erect Abraham Lincoln bequeathing freedom to passive, kneeling slaves. With the collapse of Reconstruction in 1876 — often blamed on supposedly ignorant or corrupt black people — the winning of freedom became a tale of noble, selfless white efforts on behalf of a downtrodden, faceless, nameless, “inferior” race.

Much of contemporary misunderstanding and myth about the Underground Railroad originated with Wilbur Siebert’s 1898 study. Siebert interviewed nearly everyone still living who had some memory related to the network and even traveled to Canada to interview former slaves who traced their own routes from the South to freedom.

While Siebert ignored the most fanciful stories he heard, he placed far too much emphasis on the work of so-called white conductors and depicted the experience as a very systematic and interrelated series of way stations and routes — which he traced in detailed maps — not unlike a railroad line or system of rail lines. As David Blight remarks, Siebert “fashioned a popular story of primarily white conductors helping nameless blacks to freedom.”


A Chapter In U.S. History Often Ignored: The Flight Of Runaway Slaves To Mexico

In a forgotten cemetery on the edge of Texas in the Rio Grande delta, Olga Webber-Vasques says she's proud of her family's legacy — even if she only just learned the full story.

Turns out her great-great-grandparents, who are buried there, were agents in the little-known underground railroad that led through South Texas to Mexico during the 1800s. Thousands of enslaved people fled plantations to make their way to the Rio Grande, which became a river of deliverance.

"I don't know why there wasn't anything that we would've known as we were growing up. It amazes me to learn the underground deal — I had no idea at all," says Webber-Vasques, 70, who recently learned the story of her forebear John Ferdinand Webber from her daughter-in-law who has researched family history.

"I'm very proud to be a Webber," she says.

The flight of runaway slaves to Mexico is a chapter of history that is often overlooked or ignored. As the U.S. Treasury ponders putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill to commemorate her role in the northbound underground railroad, new attention is being paid to this southbound route.

Alice Baumgartner, a historian at the University of Southern California, is at the forefront of a burst of recent scholarship. A number of researchers are expanding knowledge of the important role that Mexico played in providing a refuge for enslaved people.

Mexico represented liberty

Baumgartner's groundbreaking new book, South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War, was published late last year. She says Mexico in the 19th century is often regarded as "a place defined by poverty and political instability and violence" — and is rarely given credit for its role in providing a safe haven for runaway slaves.

"This history is to me most surprising because it shows us the side of Mexico as a place that actually was contributing to global debates about slavery and freedom," Baumgartner says.

From the 1830s up to emancipation, she estimates 3,000 to 5,000 enslaved people fled south and crossed over to free Mexican soil. That is far fewer than the estimated 30,000 to 100,000 enslaved people who crossed the Mason-Dixon line to reach free northern states and Canada.

But from the vantage of an East Texas plantation, liberty was a lot closer in Mexico.

Enslaved sailors and stowaways from New Orleans and Galveston, Texas, jumped ship in Mexican ports. Slaves drove wagons of cotton to market in Brownsville, Texas, and then slipped across the muddy river to Matamoros, Mexico. But their main mode of transportation was on horseback traversing the vast, feral stretches of South Texas down to the border.

"Sometimes someone would come 'long and try to get us to run up north and be free. We used to laugh at that," said former slave Felix Haywood, interviewed in 1937 for the federal Slave Narrative Project.

Haywood was 92 at the time, blind, white-haired and weather-beaten. He was born into slavery and as a young man tended cattle and sheep for ranchers around San Antonio.

"There wasn't no reason to run up north," he continued in the interview. "All we had to do was to walk, but walk south, and we'd be free as soon as we crossed the Rio Grande. In Mexico, you could be free. They didn't care what color you was — black, white, yellow or blue. Hundreds of slaves did go to Mexico and got on all right."

Pathways to get to the Rio Grande

While the northbound underground railroad depended on a network of people who sheltered and aided fugitive slaves, the southern route was more informal.

"We didn't have a conductor like a Harriet Tubman, and we didn't have a certain station like they did in Philadelphia where they could live and make some money," says Roseann Bacha-Garza, a borderlands historian at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and one of the few experts on the southern route to freedom.

"What we did have down here were pathways that people could follow to get to the Rio Grande."

There were, however, abolitionists on the border who could be counted on to help Black people escape the southwestern extreme of the slave South.

In the Webber Cemetery lie the remains of John Webber and his wife, Silvia Hector Webber. The cemetery is situated just north of the twisting Rio Grande, near the town of Donna, Texas.

Webber was a white settler new to Texas who fell in love with Hector, an enslaved woman. They had three children together, and he bought their freedom from his business partner. They homesteaded in the hamlet that now bears his name — Webberville, east of Austin.

But Texas was still a slave state. And the suffocating racial codes of antebellum Texas eventually drove the family away. They moved to the Rio Grande Valley, where they bought a ranch just downstream from another interracial abolitionist family — Nathaniel Jackson and his African American wife, Matilda Hicks Jackson.

Both the Webbers and the Jacksons were well-known in the clandestine grapevine of runaways.

"They knew they were sympathetic to their cause," Bacha-Garza says. "The families had their own licensed ferry landings on their properties, which made it very easy for them to shepherd these runaway slaves across the river into free Mexico."

The breakneck flight from an East Texas cotton plantation to the border was a perilous journey. Runaway slaves had to survive the Nueces Strip, the 160-mile expanse between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. It's the same treacherous ranchland where today immigration agents find the scattered bones of unauthorized migrants who perished on the trek north.

"It's a dry, parched landscape. There's not many trees. No matter what time of year, it is hot, hot, hot," Bacha-Garza says. "No running streams, snakes, scorpions. It was not an easy trip, but it was a doable trip."

Back then, the borderlands were different from the rest of slaveholding Texas. A white man, his Black wife and their children could live in peace.

"Along the river, you don't see the deeply ingrained racism because the river has been home to a mixture of people — mestizos, mulattoes," says Francisco Guajardo, CEO of the Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg. "The river is a place of tolerance, believe it or not. The racial codes were not enforced down here because there was nobody to enforce them."

Most fugitive slaves in Texas did run south — a fact known, in part, through the painstaking work being done by the Texas Runaway Slave Project, housed at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. Researchers looked through nearly 19,000 Texas newspapers from the 1840s through the 1860s.

"And it's from this research that we've been able to find so much about runaway slaves escaping to Mexico," says project director Kyle Ainsworth.

On his computer, he reads an item in the Galveston Weekly News from May 11, 1858. "$25 Reward. Ran away on the 19th of April, from W.T. Stevens' plantation . a Mulatto Boy, named Tom, about 28 years old. . Was raised in Milam county, Texas . and he is supposed to be there or on his way to Mexico."

Mexico began to gradually abolish slavery soon after it declared independence from Spain in 1821. The Mexican Congress fully outlawed slavery in 1837, well before the United States did so with the 13th Amendment in 1865.

Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836 and eventually joined the U.S. as a slave state. Mexico lost again in the Mexican-American War, and the Rio Grande became the southern boundary of the United States.

Baumgartner says Mexico's abolition of slavery exerted a gravitational pull on enslaved people in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi as King Cotton was expanding.

So while Mexico lost huge expanses of its territory in the wars, she says its anti-slavery position gave it a sort of "moral capital."

"Mexico was much less powerful than the United States, but anti-slavery gave it a way to find victory in defeat. The United States being this aggressive, slaveholding conquering nation and Mexico as this country that could actually stand upright before the civilized world for its anti-slavery positions."

Mexico did have a system of forced labor even after it abolished slavery. Hacienda owners depended on debt peonage to keep their workers in bondage, and some considered that a form of slavery.

But many Mexicans were sympathetic to fugitive slaves from Texas and the United States, according to María Hammack, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin.

In fact, Mexicans would often put up a fight against vigilantes and bounty hunters from Texas looking for escaped slaves who had crossed over the river to free Mexican soil.

"Mexican authorities at times would help the now-free men and women in Mexico from being taken and returned back to the United States," says Hammack, who is writing her dissertation on the Webber family and how fugitive slaves gained freedom in Mexico.

Moreover, Mexican laborers working in Texas befriended slaves and acted as guides to help them escape south. This happened so often that enslavers came to distrust any Mexican.

"Under Texas law, Mexicans and enslaved persons were not allowed to be found together or to collaborate or even speak to each other," Hammack says.

She says that when she was growing up in Los Mochis in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, she never learned about the outsize role that her country played in Texas slavery.

"I didn't know that Mexico was a safe haven for individuals to find freedom in the 19th century."

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that Texas changed the way students learn about the Civil War. They're now taught that slavery did play a central role in the war.

But slaveholding was also a driving force in the Texas Revolution, and historians note that this is still downplayed in celebrations of Texas Independence Day. On Tuesday, the state marks 185 years since declaring independence from Mexico.

Historians point out that some enslaved people saw Mexican troops as their liberators and that slaves fled to the ranks of the retreating Mexican army, hoping to make it to free Mexico, after the decisive Battle of San Jacinto, near present-day Houston.

Educators in Texas may be eager to include the southbound underground railroad into their classrooms, if Alaine Hutson is a barometer. She's a history professor at Huston-Tillotson University, a historically Black college in Austin.

While Hutson says she knew Mexico had outlawed slavery before the U.S. did, she did not know the full history of the southbound route to freedom.

She says this new material fits into a theme she always emphasizes with her students — that African Americans throughout history have been architects of their own liberation, like the former slave turned abolitionist Silvia Hector Webber.

"African Americans during slavery, after slavery, during Reconstruction, during Jim Crow and after Jim Crow, and some would say into the new Jim Crow, have always tried to decide as much about our fate as possible," Hutson says.

"And so it was nice to see that African Americans in Texas had the opportunity to help people get away to Mexico. And so Silvia and her family were doing that here in Texas."

Hutson began teaching this history to her African American studies class at Huston-Tillotson this year. During a recent Zoom class, she asked her students to reflect on it.

"The thing that really caught my eye was that African Americans were going to another country and actually treated better, knowing we had freedoms in Mexico that we didn't have in the United States," says Duntavian Thomas, a 24-year-old kinesiology major from Nacogdoches. "As soon as African Americans touched down on Mexican soil, we were free."

And finally today, decades after legendary singer Billie Holiday last took the stage, she is back in the spotlight. Hulu just released "The United States Vs. Billie Holiday," a film about the jazz icon starring Andra Day and directed by Lee Daniels. And while many people might know Holiday's struggles with addiction from previous treatments of her life, this film focuses on something else - the way Holiday was targeted by federal authorities, both for her addiction and for her activism through her art, especially her insistence on singing the famous anti-lynching anthem "Strange Fruit."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STRANGE FRUIT")

BILLIE HOLIDAY: (Singing) Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze. Čudan plod visi sa stabala topole.

MARTIN: The film is based in part on reporting for the book "Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days Of The War On Drugs" by Johann Hari. It's about why and how certain drugs came to be criminalized in the U.S. Hari served as an executive producer of the new film, and when we spoke, he told me how he learned about how Holiday became the focus of the anti-drug war.

JOHANN HARI: And one of the questions I asked myself was just, well, when did we even start going to war against people with addiction problems? When did we get the idea that was a good idea? And I learned about this man, Harry Anslinger, who's probably the most influential person who no one's ever heard of. And our film is really the story of the collision between him and Billie Holiday.

So in 1939, she walks on stage at a hotel in midtown Manhattan, and she sings that incredible song that you just played a clip from, "Strange Fruit." It's the idea that in the South, there's this strange fruit that hangs from the trees. It's the bodies of Black men who'd been murdered. And sometime later, after she first performed this song, she received a warning to stop singing it. And she refused. And the next day, she was arrested. And this is part of this epic conflict that took place between Billie Holiday and her bravery and Harry Anslinger.

So Harry Anslinger invented the modern war on drugs. He's the first person to ever use that phrase. He was the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and he really built the drug war around two groups he hated intensely. The first was Black people. The second was people with addiction problems. So to him, Billie Holiday is the incarnation of everything he hated. She's a Black woman standing up to white supremacy. And because she'd been horrifically abused as a child, she had an addiction problem. And the film is really the story of her brave resistance to him.

MARTIN: But why do you think it is that he was so fixated on Black people and drug use? And that - you point out that there were other - you know, white people who had - white celebrities, white socialites - who similarly had these problems, but he didn't have the same kind of disdain for them or hatred for them. Zašto mislite da je to tako? I mean, just - he just thought that white people who fell into addiction somehow were what? It was a mistake, whereas with Black people, it was somehow genetic or something? Like, can you unpack that a little bit?

HARI: I think we've seen that more recently if you compare how people reacted to - the general public reaction to the rise of crack addiction in the 1980s and early 1990s and the rise of opioid addiction in more recent years. Those are comparable tragedies with comparable causes, mostly lying in despair, right? The opposite of addiction is connection. Of course, there's been a racialized way of interpreting this. In fact, one of the reasons the drug war is created is as a way to suppress Black people quite consciously.

If you look at the early documents, as I did, around the foundation of the drug war, you know, it's founded in this extreme racial hysteria. It's this belief that Black people and Latinos are using drugs, forgetting their place, in inverted commas, and attacking white people. And this absolutely informs how Harry Anslinger thinks about Billie Holiday, that she's forgetting her place, right?

This is a - this is his worst nightmare. She's a Black woman standing up to white supremacy and persuading other white people. This, to him, is a nightmare, and he had a long record of using his power to try to suppress speech he didn't agree with. He did this with scientists who criticized his policies. And I think it's pretty clear it was one aspect of why he so viciously goes after Billie Holiday. You have to account for, why is the most vocally anti-racist person, Billie Holiday, the person he most viciously persecutes? I mean, he even gloats about it in his writing. After she died, he writes gloatingly, well, there'll be no more "Good Morning Heartache" for her.

MARTIN: Wow. Vau. I confess I never heard this name before. I mean, I think people know a lot about prohibition - right? - prohibition against alcohol. And they know a lot about those figures. And then they know that - they know kind of that there was this war on drugs, which I think people associate with Richard Nixon. Why do you think Harry Anslinger's role in this is not so well known or the origins of this is not so well known?

HARI: It took three transformations in consciousness for us to be able to see Billie Holiday the way that we do in this film. One - and the story of what Harry Anslinger did to Billie Holiday. One is a transformation in how we see race. Your listeners don't need me to explain how that transformation's been happening. One is a transformation in how we think about addiction.

So Harry Anslinger was one of the pioneers of the idea that addiction is a moral failing, right? If you're addicted, you party too hard. You indulged yourself. That's why this happened to you. Increasingly - and the best scientific evidence that I go through in my book, Chasing The Scream" - shows that addiction is, in fact, a response to deep pain and suffering.

And the third transformation, I would say, is a transformation in how we think about sexual abuse. One of the reasons - I think the main reason - that Billie had the addiction problem she had is because she was a survivor of horrific sexual abuse. Again, you can see very clearly why someone who had survived such a terrible thing would need to anesthetize themselves, initially with alcohol, later with heroin.

MARTIN: It sounds like this story really haunts you.

HARI: Yeah. This is really close to my heart because, you know, some of the people I most love have addiction problems. A very close relative of mine at the moment is struggling with addiction problems. And I know this might sound a bit grandiose, but I really feel like what the people who made this film have done - Lee Daniels, the amazing director, Andra Day, the goddess who plays Billie Holiday, Suzan-Lori Parks, who wrote the amazing screenplay - I feel like in some way, we have avenged Billie Holiday.

Now, it's not enough. The vengeance should have come in her lifetime. She should have been vindicated then. But we weren't ready to listen. The wider society was so lost in its hatred of Black people, of addicts, of so many groups. But I feel like now when we remember Billie Holiday, we won't remember, oh, the genius who was brought down by her flaws. We will remember the genius who was not only a genius in music, but a genius in life and a moral genius who saw ahead, who saw what had to be done.

And if we had listened to Billie Holiday then, there would be a lot of Black people who were killed who'd still be alive, a lot of Black people who were imprisoned who would have lived free lives, and a lot of people who died of addictions who would have lived to recover and have good lives. I think it's time we started really listening to Billie Holiday.

MARTIN: Johann Hari is the author of "Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days Of The War On Drugs." He's also an executive producer of the new movie "The United States Vs. Billie Holiday," which is out now on Hulu.

Johann Hari, thanks so much for talking with us today.

HARI: Oh, it's such an honor to be on your show. Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL OF ME")

ANDRA DAY: (Singing) All of me, why not take all of me? Can't you see I'm no good without you? Take my lips. I want to lose them. Take my arms, I'll never use them. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


Story of the Underground Railroad to Mexico gains attention

HOUSTON — While researching U.S. Civil War history in South Texas, Roseann Bacha-Garza came across the two unique families of the Jacksons and the Webbers living along the Rio Grande. White men headed both families. Both of their wives were Black, emancipated slaves.

But Bacha-Garza, a historian, wondered what they were doing there in the mid-1800s.

As she dug into oral family histories, she heard an unexpected story. The two families' ranches served as a stop on the Underground Railroad to Mexico, descendants said. Across Texas and parts of Louisiana, Alabama, and Arkansas, scholars and preservation advocates are working to piece together the story of a largely forgotten part of American history: a network that helped thousands of Black slaves escape to Mexico.

“It really made sense the more I read about it and the more I thought about it,” Bacha-Garza said of the secretive route.

Like the more well-known Underground Railroad to the North, which helped fugitive slaves flee to Northern states and Canada, the path in the opposite direction provided a pathway to freedom south of the border, historians say. Enslaved people in the Deep South took to this closer route through unforgiving forests then desert with the help of Mexican Americans, German immigrants, and biracial Black and white couples living along the Rio Grande. Mexico had abolished slavery in 1829, a generation before President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

But just how organized the Underground Railroad to Mexico was and what happened to former slaves and those who helped them remains a mystery. Some archives have since been destroyed by fire. Sites connected to the route sit abandoned.

“It’s larger than most people realized,” Karl Jacoby, co-director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University, said of the route.

Slave owners took out newspaper ads offering rewards and complaining that their “property” was likely heading to Mexico, Jacoby said. White Texans banished Mexican Americans from towns after accusing them of helping slaves escape.

Slave-catching mobs ventured into Mexico only to face armed resistance in small villages and from Black Seminoles — or Los Mascogos — who had resettled in northern Mexico, said Jacoby, author of “The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire.”

Escaped slaves adopted Spanish names, married into Mexican families and migrated deeper into Mexico — disappearing from the record and history.

Historians have known about the secretive path for years. “ The Texas Runaway Slave Project ” at Stephen F. Austin State University includes a database of runaway slave advertisements that detail the extent of the trail. The Federal Writers' Project of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration gathered stories as part of its Slave Narrative Collection, including ones from former slaves openly talking about the Underground Railroad to Mexico. Former Texas slave Felix Haywood told those interviewed in 1936, for example, that slaves would laugh at the suggestion they should run north for freedom.

“All we had to do was walk, but walk south, and we'd be free as soon as we crossed the Rio Grande,” Haywood said.

And in 2010, the U.S. National Park Service outlined a route from Natchitoches, Louisiana, through Texas to Monclova, Mexico, that could be considered a rough path of the Underground Railroad south. A bill that President George W. Bush signed six years earlier designated El Camino Real de los Tejas as a National Historic Trail and encouraged the development of partnerships to create more understanding around this overlooked freedom road.

But this Underground Railroad is just starting to enter the public's consciousness as the U.S. becomes more diverse and more people show an interest in studying slavery, said Bacha-Garza, a program manager for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley's Community Historical Archaeology Project with Schools in Edinburg, Texas.

Bacha-Garza said Nathaniel Jackson, a white southerner, purchased the freedom of Matilda Hicks, a Black slave who was his childhood sweetheart, as well as Hicks' family. Jackson married Hicks and moved from Alabama to Texas before the U.S. Civil War. There, along the Rio Grande, they encountered another biracial couple, Vermont-born John Ferdinand Webber and Silvia Hector, who was Black and also a former slave.

The examination of the Underground Railroad to Mexico comes as the U.S. is undergoing a racial reckoning around policing and systemic racism. Also, this year Mexico counted its Afro-Mexican population as its own category for the first time in its census.

Over the last 50 years, the fields of African American and Chicano Studies have boomed with groundbreaking research and new work redefining the U.S. experience. But rarely do the two fields interact beyond 20th century civil rights tensions, said Ron Wilkins, a recently retired Africana Studies and History professor from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

And as a result, stories about African Americans and Mexican Americans working together to fight racism are not shared, Wilkins said, including the history of the Underground Railroad to Mexico.


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Komentari:

  1. Groramar

    Super... super...

  2. Wotan

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  3. Danh

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  4. Bodaway

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  5. Zuka

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