Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents


US presidents range from very bad to less bad, but none were “good” for Black people – including the first Black one.

Ten of the first twelve presidents of the United States were slave holders. This is just one of many historical facts that this columnist discovered while researching and writing Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents . The newly published book is an exploration of black American history viewed through the prism of the presidency.

Presidents appear on our currency, we live in cities named after them and attended schools called Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt or Kennedy. They have their own holiday and are generally lauded as great historical figures. Yet their deeds demonstrate that anti-black racism is foundational to this nation and that our struggle for human rights is never ending. 

The capital city of Washington DC exists as a result of one of the earliest surrenders to the southern slavocracy. The newly independent nation already had large cities conveniently located near population centers on the coast. Why would an entirely new city be built from scratch on a swamp? Of course the goal was to give the slave powers physical and legal protection by locating a capital between the states of Virginia and Maryland.

“Presidential deeds demonstrate that anti-black racism is foundational to this nation.”

The settler colonial state was an engine for genocide from the beginning. The American revolution was an effort to free the colonists from any limits the British might impose on their plans for conquest. Indigenous people were driven from their lands with violence, disease and displacement. Expanded settlement fortified the plantation economy and created a hell on earth for enslaved people.

When the Civil War finally ended chattel slavery, there began a cycle of victories followed by vicious reaction, dashed hopes and betrayals. The process continues until  this day. Despite some of the 45 men being designated as being  “good for black people” there are none that deserve such an attribution. 

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