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Tue Jan 29, 2013, 03:01 AM

White Power to the Rescue

White Power to the Rescue
Monday, 28 January 2013 09:52 By Chris Hedges, TruthDig | Report

On a windy afternoon a few days ago I went to a depressed section of North Memphis to visit an old clapboard house that was once owned by a German immigrant named Jacob Burkle. Oral history—and oral history is all anyone has in this case since no written documents survive—holds that Burkle used his house as a stop on the underground railroad for escaped slaves in the decade before the Civil War. The house is now a small museum called Slave Haven. It has artifacts such as leg irons, iron collars and broadsheets advertising the sale of men, women and children. In the gray floor of the porch there is a trapdoor that leads to a long crawl space and a jagged hole in a brick cellar wall where fugitives could have pushed themselves down into the basement. Escaped slaves were purportedly guided by Burkle at night down a tunnel or trench toward the nearby Mississippi River and turned over to sympathetic river traders who took them north to Cairo, Ill., and on to freedom in Canada.

Burkle and his descendants had good reason to avoid written records and to keep their activities secret. Memphis, on the eve of the Civil War, was one of the biggest slave markets in the South. After the war the city was an epicenter for Ku Klux Klan terror that included lynching, the nighttime burning of black churches and schools and the killing of black leaders and their white supporters, atrocities that continued into the 20th century. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in 1968. If word had gotten out that Burkle used his home to help slaves escape, the structure would almost certainly have been burned and Burkle or his descendants, at the very least, driven out of the city. The story of Burkle’s aid to slaves fleeing bondage became public knowledge only a couple of decades ago.

The modest public profile of the Burkle house stands in stunning contrast with the monument in the center of Memphis to native son Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest, who is buried in Forrest Park under a statue of himself in his Confederate general’s uniform and mounted on a horse, is one of the most odious figures in American history. A moody, barely literate, violent man—he was not averse to shooting his own troops if he deemed them to be cowards—he became a millionaire before the war as a slave trader. As a Confederate general he was noted for moronic aphorisms such as “War means fighting and fighting means killing.” He was, even by the accounts of those who served under him, a butcher. He led a massacre at Fort Pillowin Henning, Tenn., of some 300 black Union troops—who had surrendered and put down their weapons—as well as women and children who had sheltered in the fort. Forrest was, after the war, the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He used his skills as a former cavalry commander to lead armed night raids to terrorize blacks.

Forrest, like many other white racists of the antebellum South, is enjoying a disquieting renaissance. The Sons of Confederate Veterans and the West Tennessee Historical Commission last summer put up a 1,000-pound granite marker at the entrance to the park that read “Forrest Park.” The city, saying the groups had not obtained a permit, removed it with a crane. A dispute over the park name, now raging in the Memphis City Council, exposes the deep divide in Memphis and throughout much of the South between those who laud the Confederacy and those who detest it, a split that runs like a wide fault down racial lines.


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Reply White Power to the Rescue (Original post)
Judi Lynn Jan 2013 OP
ROBROX Jan 2013 #1
John2 Jan 2013 #2

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:39 PM



It took a long time for this history to be told, but there are still many who are stuck in the DARK AGES. There were very brave people who participated in the under ground rail road. It is sad that today there are many who still hate the hero's of the past.

I did attend training at NAS Memphis which is located in the town Millington. I even donated blood twice in Memphis. The people I met were GREAT. It is sad to know that there are still people alive who are living in the past.

There are many people all over our great country who are living in the past. Sometimes it seems the progressives in society are the minority............

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:34 PM

2. If anyone is


a citizen of the United States and glorifies the old Confederacy, then they must hate this country. I don't think there is anyone living today that was born, fought for or lived in the Confederate South. What is the difference from glorifying the Old British colonial colonies? I'm glad the Union won as an American citizen today. As an African American, my ancestors were also part of the Old South. It should be remembered as history and the memory of leaders that fought for the South should be only in history books or Museums and not some character honered in a public display. One side loss and one won. To the winner goes the spoils including the Glory.

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