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And, then, the old man preached about the daily indignities of the old south— insulting stereotypes and caricatures that portrayed us as buffoons, butlers, and beasts; lies about our morality and worth, some told by preachers who said we had no souls, that we wore the Curse of Ham; backbreaking toil, often forced by law, the fruit of our labor on another man’s plate; poverty that warped, crippled, and everywhere premature death; our voices silenced by poll taxes and literacy tests; schooling in raggedy shacks with tattered books because education would spoil us for work in the fields; cuffed, chained, and caged, for crimes both real and imagined; our soldiers killed in their uniforms, their medals stripped; our businesses, churches, schools, and homes burned to the ground when we progressed too much; our women and children raped; everywhere the barbarism of color discrimination followed us, enveloped us, and when all else failed, there were sadistic cowards with ropes and pyres to kill us, kill our bodies, to try and end us. But, we did not end.

– David Pilgrim

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