Sunday, July 16, 2006

Denmark Vesey revisited

In a country so lacking in historical self knowledge as ours, mentioning the name Denmark Vesey in conversation will probably draw blank stares from most folks. Vesey was a free black man who was executed in 1822, for supposedly planning a slave revolt. He's been in the news recently in a couple of stories. One item was where a historian called into question whether or not Vesey was actually planning such a revolt or whether the whole thing was cooked up by the authorities of the time as a way of silencing and getting rid of Vesey, who was apparently a courageous person who spoke his mind about the evil system of slavery that the US allowed until Abe Lincoln saved us from ourselves.

The other news item is that a group of citizens in South Carolina think a monument needs to be put up honoring Vesey. This seems fair enough to me, regardless of whether or not DV was planning a revolt. Certainly there are enough monuments to southern slave owners and confederate revolters around here in Georgia and South Carolina. I would think we could put at least one up to a man who courageously stood against slavery. Mark me down as a vote for a Vesey monument. While we're at it, how about some memorials to the many folks who fought against segregation and racism during the Jim Crow era? There are a lot of unsung heroes and heroines who spoke out and fought for justice in this country, and their story needs to be more celebrated. Just a thought.

Here are some links to the stories mentioned. The first two are basic bios:

  • Denmark Vesey on wikipedia

  • another Vesey bio

  • Here is the revisionist article from The Nation regarding whether or not Vesey was planning a revolt. Let me throw my two cents in here that I certainly think DV a hero either way. If I was alive in 1822 and saw no future for my children or other human beings who were in chains simply because they looked like me, then I hope I would have been planning some type of revolt. Period. Anyway, here's the article.

  • Denmark Vesey: A New Verdict

  • And here is the story about the Denmark Vesey and Spirit of Freedom Monument Committee, the group of folks pushing for a monument. The article doesn't say how to reach the committee or founder Henry Darby. If any of my readers know please forward the info to me. I'd like to hear how the iniative is going.

  • Denmark Vesey monument proposed

    Anonymous said...

    Michael Johnson's article in the (I think it was 2001) William and Mary Quarterly is the best and clearest statement of the historical evidence exonerating Vesey. It's pretty clear he was not part of any conspiracy...

    Thanks for commenting on my blog!

    Henry E. Darby said...

    Ground-breaking ceremonies will take place in Charleston, SC, February 1, 2010. If information is needed, please contact Curtis Franks at 843-953-7610.

    Steven R. Harbin aka coachhollywood67 said...

    Thanks for the information Mr. Darby!