I just finished watching “Free State of Jones” on Netflix. It’s an inspiring piece of film.
When we remember the Civil War, and the time around it, we like to forget that half the country was opposed to slavery, and that people, both black and white, worked together to oppose it. They fought their own battles (not always the kind fought with guns) to rectify the injustices of the slave-owning south.
This movie, which is based loosely on facts, tells the story of one of those other battles. Some of it’s ugly, some of it’s beautiful and together, that tells a fine tale.
And just because I’ve developed a fondness for history of late, here’s a little bit which doesn’t get covered in the movie, but is related to that time and place. Much of the movie takes place in Mississippi, especially the post-war part. That’s a good place for post Civil War era race issues to be played out because the first two African-American U.S. Senators were elected during those years.
The first was Hiram Rhodes Revels (R) in 1870.
The second was Blanche Bruce (R) in 1875,
Revels was the son of free people of color. Bruce’s mother was a slave, but his father was her master, so he was born a slave, but his father freed him and had him educated.
Still, that would make Bruce the only person to serve in the U.S. Senate who had been born a slave. There were 4 former slaves who served as House Reps, but he was the only Senator.