On February 12, 1909, The Los Angeles Times published a front page article written by Jefferson Edmonds, a newspaper editor and political activist. How Freedom’s Word Found the Bondman is Jefferson’s first-hand account of Emancipation; he was born into slavery in Mississippi.
Jefferson's opening sentence, “When in 1619 that old Dutch kidnapper sold twenty negroes as slaves to the Virginians, only a god could have foreseen the tremendous, far-reaching results that that little transaction was to produce.” is a prescient foreshadowing of the historical reckoning elevated by The New York Times’ 1619 Project, 110 years later.
And his words, “If we erase from American history the pages that the negro’s presence caused to be written, it would be a short, uninteresting story.” are as timely in 2020, as we consider Black History Month critically - isn’t Black History, American History? - as it was when Jefferson wrote his account.
On this anniversary date of the original publication, we share the full text of Jefferson’s article below. Want more?
- Jefferson’s testimony to the Congressional Committee in 1875 can be found in Facing History and Ourselves’ guide for teaching The Reconstruction Era.
- Learn more about the JL Edmonds Project, and its founder, Arianne Edmonds, here.
- Register to join us for a teacher workshop on The Reconstruction Era, including a special session with Arianne.