Slavery in the US birthed from the Atlantic Slave Trade which began a LONG time ago (I'm not a history major and I apologize..)
Slavery abolished in the US in 1865 by the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution.
The 13th Amendment to the Constitution declared that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
Segregation was born in the Southern states to restrict the rights of the newly freed slaves soon after slavery is ended. Segregation in schools, restrooms, restaurants, water fountains, bus rides, housing, jobs, etc. existed until 1954 when public schools began desegregating. This began many civil rights acts to follow including voter obstruction (1957), segregation in the workplace and public accommodations (1964), segregation in housing (1968).
It sounds as if things should have made tremendous strides since 1968, however, there is no Civil Rights act, law or amendment against discrimination in our minds. In the movie, The Help, African American maids are working for higher class Caucasian families. A majority of the maids and their families are treated as objects, with no worth, no regard for their well being or their dignity, and looked at as lesser, simply because of their skin color. The only group of caucasians that are not at all discriminant towards the African Americans are the children that they raised. These children love the women that cared for them regardless of color, age, socioeconomic status, education, etc. They loved the women that cared for them because of the care, love and affection shown to them.
Today, in 2012, I still see discrimination and the treatment of African Americans as not too far evolved. I live in a small town in which Walmart is a major attraction and point of reference, so this blog post will use it as such and again, I apologize.. In my town's Walmart, I am most often greeted by an African American woman. I go through the check out line where I am most often checked out by an African American woman. When I leave, I am most often told "Thank you and come again" by an African American woman. In the parking lot are most often African American men that are moving the shopping carts back to the building. I go on about my business, most often, and I do not really have much regard for these individuals, their families, their dignity, or their well being. I went into Walmart with an agenda and left without giving much consideration to the people that I may even unintentionally deem as lesser than myself. What would happen if I greeted the greeter with something more than a smile and a nod? What would happen if I didn't think most highly of my agenda but thought most highly of who God is in my life and made it a point to share His love with others, even in Walmart. What would happen if I just provided more than a little kindness to the man that is collecting shopping carts in the parking lot as a means of providing for his family, his schooling, or whatever the case may be? What would happen if I thought enough about the freedom I have experienced in my life because of the blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection and I couldn't help but share that with the "least of these"? What would happen if I got to know the people I see most often at Walmart and got to know their stories and their circumstances because they matter to God?
I am challenged by the movie with the fact that taking the time to get to know someone's story, their circumstances and their feelings can make a huge impact. I am challenged and motivated to get to know people in my community, and in my community Walmart, so that they will know that their story and their feelings matter to an Almighty God. That they have validity and worth because they were created in His image and His likeness. That He loves them and has a redemptive plan for their lives. May I be intentional and found faithful...