Randomly: A Freed Slave’s Letter to His Old Master, or “Take That, You Bald-Pated Hugger-Mugger”

In doing research for a project, I stumbled across this letter, originally printed in a Cincinnati newspaper and reprinted in the Daily National Republican (Washington D.C.), evening edition, of August 25, 1865. One of the best passive aggressive, satirical pieces I’ve seen in a while, the author walks a split-rail fence between insult, accusations, and fond regard just perfectly:

Purported to be an actual letter sent by a freed African American man to his old "master."

Purported to be an actual letter sent by a freed African American man to his old “master.”

A little background …

  • The American Civil War had ended just four-and-one-half months earlier.
  • The Republican Party back then was largely the party of anti-slavery sentiment; Lincoln was a Republican. I believe the Republicans in the 1860s were aligned most closely to today’s liberals.
  • $25 per month was a pretty decent wage, as far as I can tell; I doubt that the Colonel intended to offer even 1/3 that much to Jordan if he were to return to the Tennessee plantation.

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Isn’t It Obvious? We Need Diverse Books

imageIt’s shameful that here in the USA we still have to campaign for more cultural, racial, gender and ethnic diversity in the literature being produced for young people, but it is true.

The same year that I was born, Viking published Ezra Jack Keats’s The Snowy Day, and, you know,

Groundbreaking for its time.

Groundbreaking for its time.

 it did pretty well. But that was eons ago, and publishing didn’t keep pace with (or catch up with) changes in our country’s shifting population.  Learn more hereAnd here. (edited: link fixed)

It should be a given that all readers will read outside of their own cultures, ethnicities, etc., and if you aren’t actively looking to add diverse books to your to-be-read list, you should. There’s a whole wide world of experiences out there that you’re missing, and an amazing commonality of experience that you could be sharing.

What’s more, it’s absurd for a young reader not to be able to find more than a couple of books that reflect his or her own experiences. I mean, come on. It’s been more than half a century.

Most people get it, why this needs to change. I hope you’re one of them. Support the organization We Need Diverse Books, and read and buy diverse books. Please.

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