The Good Darky?

I love the south. The weather, the racism of the past (wink), and the laid back speed of everything. With that in mind, as I sat down this evening to read Lies Across America, I decided to skip right to the south’s section. I know our historical sites are on some bullshit and Loewen proves it. However, I do believe that many times he loses focus with his topics. I found more information on the web about some things than he actually provides in the book. I guess what makes the book a good read is the idea that he’s bringing these historical inaccuracies to light in a single text.

Anyway, here’s something that I found interesting. There’s plenty more, but that would require more typing than I can handle right now. Here you go:

“The Good Darky” / Uncle Jack

What I Found on the Web: This bronze sculpture of an elderly black man was created to memorialize the accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in nineteenth century Louisiana. The statue was the brainchild of Jackson L. Bryan, who was born in Mansfield, Louisiana in 1868. Jack Bryan and his twin brother Joe played with African-Americans as children, worked with them as adults, and had a strong close association with African-Americans all their lives. Jack Bryan became a successful cotton planter mill owner and banker in Natchitoches, Louisiana. In 1926 he dedicated to commission and erect a statue ‘dedicated to the faithful service of black people who had played an instrumental role in the building of Louisiana.’ . . .

The sculpture was erected in 1927 at the foot of Front Street in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Set in a small park, the statue became a major tourist attraction as a unique memorial to nineteenth century African-American workers. Local residents call it ‘Uncle Jack’ for Mr. Bryan. It has been know also as the ‘Good Darky.’ The original plaque read ‘Dedicated to the arduous and faithful services of the good darkies of Louisiana.’ Newspapers and magazines, including the National Geographic, contained articles and pictures of the sculpture and stated, ‘A visit to Natchitoches was not complete without a visit to the statue.'”

What the Book Says: Actually, suggesting that “The Good Darky” has outlived his usefulness” is far too kind. this statue was from the start intended to be useful only to the cause of white supremacy. S.R. Cunningham, founder and editor of the magazine The Confederate Veteran, floated the proposal in 1894:

It seems opportune now to erect monuments to the Negro race of the war period . . . What figure would be looked upon with kindlier memory than old “Uncle Pete” and “Black Mammy,” well executed in bronze? By general cooperation models of the two might be procured and duplicates made to go in every capital city in the South . . . There is not of record in history subordination and faithful devotion by any race of people comparable to the slaves of the Southern people during our great four years’ war for independence.

In Louisiana his idea was carried out. The inscription reads: “Erected by the City of Natchitoches in Grateful Recognition of the Arduous and Faithful Service of the Good Darkies of Louisiana. . .

(Read more . . . )

So what happened to this statue? Does it still stand? Nope. In the 1960s, unidentified individuals not only tore this baby down, but they also threw it in the river. Unfortunately, somebody rescued it and provided it with a place in a museum. Good grief.

Back with more later. Happy reading, ya’ll!

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