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By Albuquerque Journal
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Opinion: Reflect on black history February and every day

 

Last updated 2/16/2021 at 2:06pm



There comes a point in every child’s life when he or she first learns of the sin of slavery in America.

While it’s a jolt to all children, those of us who are not African American can only imagine the dismay felt by young Black children when they first learn that their ancestors were dehumanized under the U.S. Constitution and state laws. That’s what makes Black History Month so important, and unique.

We are a melting pot of diversity, a nation with a history of wrongs and rights, but it should go without saying that one of the greatest wrongs of this American experiment was its treatment of Black Americans.

The New Mexico Office of African American Affairs is hosting a virtual series every Friday this month highlighting New Mexico through a Black lens. It’s a perspective from which we can all learn something.

To register for any part of the series, go to http://www.oaaa.state.nm.us. Amy Whitfield, the director of the Office of African American Affairs, notes Black History Month “is a time to reflect, honor and celebrate the individuals who have worked diligently for the freedoms of African Americans.” And New Mexico has a long African American history many may not know, dating back to even before Albuquerque was founded in 1706, when Black settlers came to what was then called “Upper New Spain.”

And before it was a state, New Mexico became a refuge for many former slaves or free Blacks.

There was female Buffalo Soldier Cathay Williams, the first Black woman to enlist in the U.S. Army. She enlisted under the pseudonym William Cathay and posed as a man during the American Indian Wars.

There’s also the rise and fall of Blackdom, a town run by African Americans in southeastern New Mexico. Georgian Francis “Frank” Boyer founded Blackdom about 20 miles south of Roswell in the early 1900s.

The town was intended to give African Americans a chance at a self-sustaining life and the opportunity to build wealth as farmers, ranchers and business leaders. But due to drought and the Great Depression, it was all but abandoned after about 30 years.

This month, as every day, we should reflect on the wrongs committed in the past and renew our resolve that the American dream does not discriminate.

— Albuquerque Journal

 
 

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