Gone are those memorable days when blacks endured torture, starvation and forced labor spent with their families. Today, in the cruel world of government “handouts”, blacks have less freedom now than they did under Jefferson Davis, or so the story goes with some whites who yearn to take America back to “the good old days”.
To hear it from racists people like Cliven Bundy and christian fundamentalist Bob Vander Plaats, black people really didn’t have it all that bad picking cotton for Southern plantation owners leading up to the Civil War. If they had nothing at all, their thinking goes, they still had a family life.
Ah, the joys of family life in a rickety wooden shack where you didn’t have to go outside to roust doodle bugs from their earthen homes. The floors were likely to be the same soil that the cotton was grown in and if you did have a wood floor it posed no barrier from earth vermin to visit you if they so chose to do so, which they often did.
And those family outings six days a week, rising before sunrise and making your way to the cotton fields where mom and dad would teach you a useful trade were events to look forward to. It didn’t pay anything but it brought untold satisfaction to the master of the plantation. And if the masta was happy then life was that much more joyful because the cracking of the whip was less likely to be an object of concern.
After a fun-filled day toting burlap sacks until your bones were ready to pop out of your skin there was the delight of dinner to look forward to, unless it was near the end of the week when your allotted food ration ran short. The corn would have to be ground by hand so the family member with the least blistered hands would have that chore. If enough scrap timber was not available to start a fire then dried hog manure or a piece of wood from the house might have to suffice.
An even better day was when your dad wasn’t tied to post and whipped if his work was deemed unsatisfactory to either the master or his wife, or their children. Is was a treat too if your mother was there tucking you in at night in your corner of the shack instead of being visited by the master who would have his way with her.
Sundays were especially happy times. No work in the fields that day but the master and his family had to have their needs met before you could till that garden you started or make necessary repairs to the dwelling you were forced to live in.
Then there were always bible readings from the master that gave all encouragement to endure their servitude. They were all reminded that it was the will of God to be in bondage and as property they were expected to fulfill the wishes of their owners. The biblical verse that would confirm this and usually end all such readings would invariably be from Ephesians 6:5:
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.