Before you talk about the “race card” this book is a must read

I’ve got a Home in Glory Land: A lost tale of the Underground Railroad by Karolyn Smardz Frost, pub. By Farrar Straus and Giroux is not a novel – and will deepen and open your understanding of race, racism, and the culture of the United States.  See:…  and

http://www.thebukowskiagency.c…  [to purchase the book or read other reviews}

Thornton and Lucie Blackburn, were slaves who fled to Canada using the early Underground Railroad.  They became a part of the Underground Railroad.  The rediscovery of their home and story due to an archeological dig of their home in Toronto, Canada electrified Canada.  

I choose this book at the library expecting a historical novel.  Historical novels are a lazy way to learn the mores and culture of another time and place almost by osmosis.  The author of a good historical novel spends years researching time lines, culture, place and detail and weaves these into a gripping tale.

In I’ve got a Home in Glory Land, the life and times of two brave fugitives who made a new life, but left no writing has been exhaustively documented.  Part of the reason for their flight was the determination to prevent Lucie Blackburn from being torn away from her husband and forcibly placed into concubinage.

The cultural legacy of concubinage was escaped and transcended by the Blackburns.  The  dangerous legacy of slavery was recognized by the antebellum Canadian African-American community.  Industry, responsibility and education were fought for and gained, but in a self-reliant way.

Abraham Lincoln sent a special commission to examine the condition the fugitive slaves in Canada.  Pp. 322-323, Glory Land.

The report of that Commission states:

It is commonly said that the Canadian refugees are “picked men”; that the very fact of their escape from slavery is proof of their superiority…No! The refugees in Canada earn a living, and gather property; they marry and respect women; they build churches and send their children to schools; they improve in manners and morals; – not because they are “picked men”, but simply because they are free men.


I was struck by the description of the 1833 “Blackburn Riots” that occurred in Detroit, and led to Thornton Blackburn’s freedom.  That may be because I was born in Detroit, and know the streets, places, and some of the personalities directly or by repute – and this book changed how I see the city of my birth.

The vivid, detailed description of concubinage and the slave system in this book, was an eye-opener, at least to me.  When African American men father children out side of marriage, and walk away from them, those men are still acting out the culture of slavery.  When African American women accept such disrespectful and irresponsible behavior, those African American women are continuing a culture of concubinage.

Thornton and Lucie Blackburn fled a republic without freedom or liberty for them in order to uphold marriage and escape concubinage.

For the African American community in the United States to be truly free will mean breaking the bonds of slavery by no longer behaving like slaves.

Free men and women treat one another with respect, and do not engage in concubinage.  The children of free men and women receive the care and support of two responsible parents.  For today’s African Americans to fully break the cultural bonds forged by slavery, a culture of personal responsibility, self discipline, industriousness and frugality as demonstrated by the life stories of Thornton and Lucie Blackburn.

Freedom is not free.

In fact, it is personal responsibility that leads to freedom; ask those who are chained to credit card debt, and facing foreclosure.  Debt limits options and chains the debtor; so does irresponsibility.  The story of Thornton and Lucie Blackburn as deeply and clearly documented by Glory Land was a real eye-opener.

I would suggest that before discussion how McCain’s campaign does/does not or should/should not reach out to African Americans you should read this book.

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