NPR-Latino USA Commentary: On the Need to Destroy Juan Crow

May 24, 2008

Latino USA Globe

Thanks to Maria Hinojosa, Mincho Jacob and the folks at NPR’s Latino USA for letting me record this call to action disguised as a commentary:

NPR Latino USA Commentary

2 Responses to “NPR-Latino USA Commentary: On the Need to Destroy Juan Crow”

  1. david Says:

    Your blog is right on. I try to catch up on what you post every couple weeks or so. I appreciate your writing and views a lot. Thanks.

    If you haven’t already read this I figured you might make good use of this passage from the “Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.” It’s him describing the effects of the Fugitive Slave Laws… It’s in the “John Brown and Mrs. Stowe” chapter. It’s kind of long, just to warn you.

    “Living, as I then did, in Rochester, on the border of Canada, I was compelled to see the terribly distressing effects of this cruel enactment. Fugitive slaves who had lived for many years safely and securely in western New York and elsewhere, some of whom had by industry and economy saved money and bought little homes for themselves and their children, were suddenly alarmed and compelled to flee to Canada for safety as from an enemy’s land – a doomed city – and take up a dismal march to a new abode, empty handed, among strangers…

    The hardships imposed by this atrocious and shameless law were cruel and shocking, and yet only a few of all the fugitives of the northern states were returned to slavery under its infamously wicked provisions. As a means of recapturing their runaway property in human flesh the law was an utter failure. Its efficiency was destroyed by its enormity. Its chief effect was to produce alarm and terror among the class subject to its operation, and this it did most effectually and distressingly. Even colored people who had been free all their lives felt themselvs very insecure in their freedom, for under this law the oaths of any two villains were sufficient to consign a free man to slavery for life. While the law was a terror to the free, it was a still greater terror to the escaped bondman. To him there was no peace. Asleep or awake, at work or at rest, in church or market, he was liable to surprise and capture…

    Happily this reign of terror did not continue long… The rescue of Shadrack resulting in the death of one of the kidnappers, in Boston, the cases of Simms and Anthony Burns, in the same place, created the deepest feeling against the law and its upholders. But the thing that which more than all else destroyed the fugitive slave law was the resistance made to it by the fugitives themselves…”

    Douglass then goes on to explain how three men in Christiana, Pennsylvania fought back against police and their attackers and escaped to Canada.

  2. robvato Says:

    Thanks, David. That is , indeed, a cool quote. As I’ve written previously, the spirit and letter of the ACCESS law, which deputizes local and state law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws, are the same as the Fugitive Slave Act. I found your quote especially helpful in illustrating both the terror sown by such laws as well as the resistance they inspired. Gracias and take it easy. R

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