‘Freedmen’ Still Fighting for their Dream

Cross-posted from McKinney & Associate’s ‘Comm in the Storm’ blog, where I write about Diversity every Thursday.

Excitement and pride have been justifiably juxtaposed with calls to action throughout the blogosphere as media anticipation for the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. monument reaches a climax.

Just three days from now, on the anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech (audio below), the National Mall’s first memorial for an African American will receive its formal dedication.

While media and bloggers are quick (and right) to draw attention to the aspects of Dr. King’s speech that still ring true –

“The Negro still is not free … the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination … the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity … the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land…”

– some Blacks find themselves fighting discrimination in a surprising and under-publicized situation.

Earlier this week the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Indian nation, the second-largest tribe in the country, upheld an earlier decision to expel its Black descendents, called Freedmen.

The link in question between African Americans and Indians goes back to the 1800s, when the US Government began to forcibly remove the tribes from their land. By that time many Indians had adopted the Europeans’ inclination for slaves, who were forced to accompany them on the “Trail of Tears.”

As the Civil War ensued, the Indian nations freed their slaves and the majority of the ‘Freedmen’ were granted citizenship within their tribes. They received full rights as citizens, including access to health care and education benefits. With the repeal of said citizenship, thousands of ‘Freedmen’ descendents will lose those benefits and find themselves once again shunned for a history of subjugation.

This time, however, it’s at the hands of another historically abused minority group. Which begs to question:

Is camaraderie and understanding between minority groups a moot expectation?

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