Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Monument Honors Faithful Slaves In Galveston, Texas

From the New York Times, "DESERVES A MONUMENT: Plan to Memorialize the "Black Mammy" Wins Southern Favor," on 15 May 1910 -- From Galveston comes a suggestion full of noblest sentiment, and in that city by the very pick and flower of its business men there has been set on foot a movement which should receive the aid of people everywhere, and especially of the people of the South; and if there be any difference at all in the measure of obligation among that people the measure is larges on the part of those who can remember the dear old "black mammy" of the days of long ago.

The movement has for its object the erection of a monument to perpetuate the memory of the "black mammies" of the South.  What that homely and familiar phrase means countless thousands can testify, and how hearts are stirred, and how the fountain of tears touched by memory's magic wand sends forth its tribute f grateful love, there is many a witness to testify who looks back toward the past through the mist of unbidden tears.  That the people of Galveston, who have displayed such splendid courage and so loftily illustrated the highest type of civic fidelity and virtue should be first to move in a matter so utterly disconpected from every thought of gain and born solely of tender sentiment adds another flower to their chapter of honor.

A monument in honor of the "black mammies" would be unique among memorials, because the "black mammy" was unique.

She has no model or counterpart in all history.  No character in all the social or domestic realm of any land or any age of which there is preserved the memory in history or tradition filled her place or would serve as a standard whereby to measure the value of her simple and unselfish service or the duration of her influence.

She was essentially sui genesis.  The past furnished no precedent the present had no parallel.  Wholly unlearned, without even the rudiments of education, holding with unshakable belief to all manner of superstition, filled with terror and direful foreboding if the "squeech" owl was heard even once at twilight; stopping to break by some rude incantation the "spell" if the "molly cottontail" crossed the road ahead of her; believing in "hants" and "sperrits" and "ghosties" even as she believed in her own identity with hell fire and brimstone as essential ingredients of her religious belief 00  she yet was the truest  most faithful, most trustful, most devoted creature that ever served with simple faith and love sincere in the sphere "in which it had pleased God to place her." 

How intense was her pride in her "white folks."  How tender, how constant was her love for her white "chilluns!"  How lordly, how sovereign her contempt for all those who according to her ideals were not "quality folks!" 

She was the aristocrat of aristocrats, the patrician of patricians; no standard so high as hers, no test of "Quality" and blood so inexorably rigid.  She was the self-appointed and watchful guardian of the dignity and pride and honor of the "family."  Whatever concerned her "white folks" concerned her. If she belonged to them, they in a different--but in her sight no less real--sense belonged to her, and she was ever ready to defend with the zeal of a fanatic the faith to which she held that they were "the qualityest people that ever was," and that to compare with them any who measured no up to her standards was profanation unpardonable.

Her faith in God was simple, trusting faith of childhood, unclouded by doubt, undisturbed by mysticism or metaphysical refinement, which had no place in the narrow field of her mental operation.

The rude, crude prayers framed by her unl?? lips were lifted to the heaven which she believed, with the unquestioning faith that thy would be heard and answered by a merciful Father who ruled and reigned there.

Many a man and woman whom the world acclaims great knelt at "black mammy's" knees to say his and her evening prayer, and soothed to sleep in the twilight hour in her big black arms by crooning of her lullaby songs, and no matter how may years have passed, or how many they have wandered, in her eye they are yet her "chillun."

Let memorials to "black mammy" be built in every State, but no genius can conceive nor constructive skill fashion shaft or column or monument which will worthily symbolize her patience, her love, her fidelity.  Yet let the best be done that ??? within the compass of artistic power.  Her memory will outlive granter and marble and bronze.  Though her skin was black, her soul was white and in that where God giveth and faithful rest the voice hummed and crooned soft and tender lullabies here will join the everlasting song --  Houston Chronicle. (source: The New York Times)

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