his month, we’ve done a lot of research and writing about black history, encountering many surprises. These are our five biggest.
5. Early black militants were as militant at Malcolm X.
Because African-American patriots were more successful at achieving their political agenda for black people, the voices of uncompromising 19th century militants have largely been relegated to the dustbin of history, making Malcolm X. appear to be a historical anomaly. But long before him, there were black political figures and activists who spoke vociferously against America and its founding fathers.
When a speaker at a meeting of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society referred to Thomas Jefferson as “a good anti-slavery man,” he was interrupted by shouts: “He sold his own daughter!” Robert Purvis, a wealthy octoroon who was born free, asked for the floor and condemned Jefferson and Washington, saying: “Sir, Thomas Jefferson was a slaveholder and I hold all slaveholders to be tyrants and robbers. It is said that Thomas Jefferson sold his own daughter. This if true proves him to have been a scoundrel as well as a tyrant!”
Charles Lenox Remond expressed his opposition to America more broadly. An eyewitness observer said that after Dred Scott v. Sanford, Remond delivered an address calling for swift, decisive action: “He boldly proclaimed himself a traitor to the government and the Union, so long as his rights were denied. Were there a thunderbolt of God which he could invoke to bring destruction upon this nation, he would gladly do it.”