400 Years of Slavery – Emancipation Day: Hardly ‘Free At Last’

Go Lean Commentary

“Free At Last, Free At Last; Thank God Almighty, We Are Free At Last”
– Dr. Martin Luther King; “I Have a Dream” Speech; March on Washington, 1963

Considering that the Emancipation Proclamation took effect on January 1, 1863, it would have been expected that those powerful words from Dr. King may have been a reality long before 1963.

Regrettably, No!

This was the point of Dr. King’s theme:

Five score years ago, a great American [President Abraham Lincoln], in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. …

See the Appendix VIDEO below of the actual speech in 1963.

America was forged on the blatant hypocrisy of a legal premise that “All men are created equal”, and yet the African-American population was never treated equally, fairly or justly. In fact, by some analysis, America is still not equal-fair-just for African-Americans. In fact, just naming a street after Martin Luther King creates friction in American communities even today, 56 years after that iconic speech.

How about other communities (nations in the New World)? Did they emancipate their slaves sooner or later? See the full list here of all the territories in the Caribbean region including the mainland coastal lands rimming the Caribbean Sea:

Chronology of the abolition of slavery in the Caribbean

First abolition Final abolition of slavery Date of independence
Haiti 1793 1804
Dominican Republic  1801 1822 1844
Costa Rica 1824 1821
El Salvador 1824 1821
Guatemala 1824 1821
Honduras 1824 1821
Mexico 1829 1810
British West Indies
Antigua and Barbuda
Cayman Islands
Virgin Islands
Turks and Caicos Islands
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
St. Vincent and Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Nicaragua 1838 1821
Danish Virgin Islands
Saint John
Saint Thomas
Saint Croix
Swedish Antilles
Saint Barthelemy
French Antilles
Saint Martín (French zone)
1794 1848
Colombia 1814 1851 1810
Panama 1851 1903
Venezuela 1816 1854 1811
Netherlands Antilles
Saint Eustatius
St. Martin (Netherlands zone)
United States 1863-1865 1776
Puerto Rico 1873
Cuba 1880-1886 1898

Source: Retrieved August 28, 2019 from: http://atlas-caraibe.certic.unicaen.fr/en/page-117.html


In summary, the dates of Final abolition of slavery in the New World territories started in 1801 and ended in 1886. (The difference between the First year and the Final year reflect the attempts of Empire stakeholders to re-introduce slavery – this is best exemplified by the experience in Haiti). The above chart reflect one issue, the abolition of slavery; what about full Civil Rights for these former enslaved populations? That’s another discussion of historic timelines.

(See the previous blog-commentary here from the movement behind the book Go Lean … Caribbean that details the American Civil Rights journey)

This is the focus of this series of blog-commentaries from the movement behind the Go Lean book for August 2019. This is the season to remember, reflect and reconcile the 400 Years of Slavery History in the American experience – 1619 until … today. It is also the time to review the Emancipation practices in the hemisphere and ascertain when the “Free At Last” declaration was sounded in the region – if it was ever sounded at all. The full series of these blogs-commentaries this month is cataloged as follows:

  1. 400 Years of Slavery: America, Not the first
  2. 400 Years of Slavery: International Day of Remembrance
  3. 400 Years of Slavery: Emancipation Day – Hardly ‘Free At Last’
  4. 400 Years of Slavery: Where is home?
  5. 400 Years of Slavery: Cop-on-Black Shootings in America’s DNA

Perhaps, “emancipation” is just a hollow word. It seems as if the people – African descended people there of – were never really free nor equal in American society. Finally in 2008, with the election of Barack Obama – the first African-American president, could the manifestation of freedom and equality “for all” finally be realized?

Not quite!

There are many examples of racial oppression, suppression and repression in the US. These experiences may be indicative that something deeper than equality is at stake; there is a Bad Community Ethos – fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society – tied to religious mis-information.

Yes, this commentary went there! This theme – reconciling the bad track record of the Moral Leaders: the Church – have been exhaustingly studied in many previous Go Lean commentaries; see a sample list here:

http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=16944 Bad Messaging – Rejecting Black Women ‘As Is’
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=16534 European Reckoning – Christianity’s Indictment
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=16512 On Martin Luther King’s 90th Birthday – America is still ‘Dreaming’
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=16477 Transforming Hindus versus Women – What it means for the Caribbean
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=16172 A Lesson in History: Rev Jim Jones and Jonestown, Guyana
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=15580 Caribbean Unity? Religion’s Role: False Friend
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=10216 Waging a Successful War on Religious-based Orthodoxy
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=9766 Rwanda’s Catholic bishops apologize for genocide
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=5695 Repenting, Forgiving and Reconciling the Past

There are many lessons for stakeholders of Caribbean society to learn in considering the history of 400 Years of Slavery in America. Considering that formal emancipation did not complete until the end of the 19th Century, we have a lot of derived lessons that we can further benefit from by considering these historic details:

  • The abolition of slavery was a long journey everywhere; slave-owners never wanted to give up their property – they wanted to continue to benefit from their previous investments. They were forced to give up the practice by a superior authority – The “State”.  This parallel’s the actuality of bullying … everywhere, everytime.
  • Underlying to slavery was the false precept of Natural Law. Adherents believed that they were somehow created better than other classes of people – think White Supremacy. While this is blatantly false, many people still hold on to these false precepts – religion and faith is involved. When religious dogma is involved, the appeal to logic rings hollow.
  • Admitting when you are wrong – don’t hold your breath – helps reconciliation. It is a human tendency to excuse, rationalize previous wrong courses of action of a people or society. Thusly, racism and anti-Semitism lingers to our day.
  • Religious institution did good! The Abolition and Civil Rights movements were energized by zealous religious groups; i.e. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King was a Baptist Minister.
  • Religious institutions did bad! The teachings that Christian conversions – for Amerindians and imported slaves – were necessary for their Godly salvation was flawed, anti-Christian (Apostate) and imperiled society in the New World.

While we empathize, we are not America – Yippee!!!

… for our 30 Caribbean member-states, 29 of them feature a majority population of Black-and-Brown people. While this majority does not always equal political or economic power, universal suffrage (one man/woman, one vote) has been transformational in correcting social ills. Universal suffrage equals universal respect, so this should always be at the start of change in society. This teaches us that societal stewards should work to ensure voting rights and protections of the balloting process.

Reflecting on the 400 History of Slavery in America, reminds us that this bad institution affected the economic, security and governing engines of society. So too did emancipation! Changing the societal engines in any community requires brains (Art & Science) and brawn. So the study of Best Practices and the applications of Lessons Learned should always be prioritized for community leaders. This is the purpose of the Go Lean movement. We urge every Caribbean stakeholder to lean-in to our roadmap to bring change to this Caribbean region.

Free At Last? Hardly!

But, we can make our Caribbean homeland Free At Last and even a better place to live, work and play. Let’s get busy! 🙂

About the Book
The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all member-states. This CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

The Go Lean book provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions on “how” to adopt new community ethos, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to reboot, reform and transform the societal engines of Caribbean society.

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Who We Are
The movement behind the Go Lean book – a non-partisan, apolitical, religiously-neutral Community Development Foundation chartered for the purpose of empowering and re-booting economic engines – stresses that reforming and transforming the Caribbean societal engines must be a regional pursuit. This was an early motivation for the roadmap, as pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 – 13):

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes … can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

xxiv. Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix VIDEO I Have a Dream speech by Martin Luther King .Jr HD (subtitled) (Remastered) – https://youtu.be/vP4iY1TtS3s

Published on Nov 7, 2017
I Have a Dream” is a public speech that was delivered by American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, in which he called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States. Delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the speech was a defining moment of the civil rights movement and among the most iconic speeches in American history.

Under the applicable copyright laws, the speech will remain under copyright in the United States until 70 years after King’s death, through 2038.
  • Edited by: Binod Pandey
  • Caption author (Spanish): ALEJANDRA GONZALEZ
  • Caption author (Spanish (Latin America)): Adrian Roldan
  • Category: Nonprofits & Activism
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