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Background - The Secret Life of Bees. The Secret Life of Bees. History of Slavery - In 1700s, blacks were captured in Africa and shipped to America, where they would be sold as slaves to pay off the debt of transportation Southern states of U.S. needed slaves for their cotton fields.

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the secret life of bees
The Secret Life of Bees

History of Slavery

- In 1700s, blacks were captured in Africa and shipped to America, where they would be sold as slaves to pay off the debt of transportation

  • Southern states of U.S. needed slaves for their cotton fields.
  • Cotton was labour intensive and had to be hand-picked.
history of slavery cont d
History of Slavery cont’d

Eli Whitney

created the cotton gin in 1793.

  • The cotton gin separated the cotton fibers from the seedpods and seeds.
history of slavery cont d1
History of Slavery cont’d
  • The use of the cotton gin allowed American cotton plantation owners to

make cotton quicker, stronger

and cheaper than the previous

cotton from India.

  • So, by the mid 1800s Britain was primarily purchasing cotton from the US.
  • Slaves were in even higher demand.
history of slavery cont d2
History of Slavery cont’d
  • According to an 1860 US census, one third of Southern families owned slaves.

- Slave narratives told of the horrors of family separation, the sexual abuse of black women, and the inhuman workload. They told of free blacks being kidnapped and sold into slavery. They described the frequency and brutality of flogging and the severe living conditions of slave life.

the secret life of bees1
The Secret Life of Bees

Underground Railroad

  • Series of routes and houses where black slaves could escape from the South to the ‘free north.’ The end destinations were the northern states of the US and Canada.
  • Received help from abolitionists (sympathetic whites)
  • Underground = secret; Railroad = route with stops along the way
underground railroad cont d
Underground Railroad cont’d
  • At its height between 1800-1850
  • Because of safety issues, no one knew the whole route or all the people involved; if someone was caught, they could not ruin the whole network.
  • ‘Conductors’ would only know

where they come from and where

they were headed.

Often conductors would change

to keep the secret safe.

underground railroad cont d1
Underground Railroad cont’d
  • Would travel at night, approximately

10-20 miles or 15-30km (from

downtown Brampton to Toronto

(straight as the crow flies)

  • Sleep or rest at stations during

the day.

  • A lantern hanging on a hitching post or candle in the window meant the house was safe

- Canada was seen as ‘heaven’ or ‘The Promised Land’ due to its anti-slavery laws

underground railroad cont d2
Underground Railroad cont’d
  • No known numbers of escapees exist; however, it is believed to be between 30 000 and

100 000.

  • Large settlements in Canada – southern Ontario (triangle between Toronto, Niagara Falls and Windsor), Nova Scotia, Quebec and

Vancouver Island.

the secret life of bees2
The Secret Life of Bees

American Civil War

  • Many argue that the American Civil War was based entirely on Slavery; however, it was about more than that.
  • It was about the balance of power between the North and the South
  • The North and South were headed in two different directions and were both concerned about the balance of power in government.
american civil war cont d
American Civil War cont’d


  • Embraced industrialization
  • Large urban areas
  • Influx of immigrants led to a large boom in population
  • Free states


- Devoted to plantation life

- Non-industrial

- Slow population increase

- Slave states

american civil war cont d1
American Civil War cont’d
  • In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was

elected President of the

United States (without having

a single electoral vote from

any of the Southern states).

  • One month later, South

Carolina, Mississippi, Florida,

Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas seceded from the Union.

american civil war cont d2
American Civil War cont’d
  • In early 1861, these states formed the

Confederate States

of America.

  • April 1861 the

Confederate Army

attacked Fort Sumter

in South Carolina and

captured it; the ‘Stars

and Bars’ were flying.

american civil war cont d3
American Civil War cont’d
  • Another 4 states joined the Confederates, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia, making the grand total 11 states.

- The Border States (Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware) were slave states, but did not secede and remained part of the Union

american civil war cont d4
American Civil War cont’d
  • January 1, 1863 – Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation.
    • Frees all slaves in the Confederacy and allowed blacks to fight in the Union army.
  • July 1863 - the South lost the Battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and

started to lose the war.

  • January 31, 1865 – Congress

approves the 13th Amendment to

the Constitution (abolish slavery);

was submitted to the states

for ratification.

american civil war cont d5
American Civil War cont’d

More important dates:

  • April 9, 1865 – Confederate Army surrenders to Union in Virginia.
  • April 14, 1865 – Lincoln shot by John Wilkes Booth and dies

- May 1865 – remaining states

surrender: NORTH WON!

american civil war cont d6
American Civil War cont’d
  • Post American Civil War – called Reconstruction.
  • US government required Acts to be met in order for Confederate State to be given seats in government again.
  • Included:

13th Amendment – abolish slavery

14th Amendment – Citizenship and equal protection to all people

15th Amendment – Right to vote for all citizens regardless of race, color, servitude

american civil war cont d7
American Civil War cont’d
  • Other Reconstruction experiments were led throughout the South:

- Gave land to ex-slaves in S.C.

- Taxes were raised to help restore the damaged and destroyed lands and buildings

- Carpetbaggers and scalawags given power of land ownership and voting rights

- Union army present throughout entire South

the secret life of bees3
The Secret Life of Bees
  • So, many states are forced to continue to deal with the Union army.
  • Many felt betrayed, bitter, angry
  • Formed the 1st version of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)

Ku Klux Klan

- originally founded in 1865 by veterans of the Confederate Army

ku klux klan cont d
Ku Klux Klan cont’d

- Wanted to restore white supremacy

                  • Used intimidation, which quickly turned to violence
                  • Increase in murders led to a backlash against the KKK because federal troops forced to remain in the South
  • Klan dismantled in 1871.

NOTE – Reconstruction officially ended in 1877.

aftermath of civil war
Aftermath of Civil War

After Reconstruction officially ended, white state legislatures enacted JIM CROW LAWS

  • Existed in southern states from 1876-1965
  • Created “separate but equal” status for black Americans

- included all segregation (schools, restrooms, etc.)

ku klux klan cont d1
Ku Klux Klan cont’d
  • 2nd Klan founded in 1915 and grew in Post-WWI due to the increase in immigrants and labour tensions that arose when veterans were trying to re-enter the work force.
  • This chapter preached a ‘pure America’ and were anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, and racist.
  • Took part in lynchings,

murders, cross-burnings,

damage to public and

private property.

ku klux klan cont d2
Ku Klux Klan cont’d
  • By 1924, membership reached five million (approximately 15% of the nation’s eligible population), but it dwindled after a Klan promoter testified against the Klan.
  • Great Depression and WWII shortly after , which further decreased membership.
  • In 1945 Klan forced to disband for not paying back taxes, though local activity continued.
  • Local Klans participated in Civil Rights Movement, assassination of NAACP organizer Medger Evans, murders of civil rights workers and blacks.
the secret life of bees4
The Secret Life of Bees

Stock Market Crash of 1929

and the Great Depression

  • 1920s called “Roaring Twenties” – a time of great prosperity following WWI.
  • Increase in industrialization, new technologies (radio, automobile, air flight).
  • Stocks were ‘safe’ to buy, so play in the stock market increased
stock market crash and depression cont d
Stock Market Crash and Depression cont'd

Problems with Stock Market in 1920s:

  • investors, wanting to invest in the Stock Market, were purchasing stock on margin (borrowing money from brokers to purchase stock). Collateral was the stock itself.
  • Stocks go up and tons of money can be made
  • Stocks go down (value decreases), the difference in value versus debt had to be covered.
stock market crash and depression cont d1
Stock Market Crash and Depression cont'd
  • Investors would also mortgage their homes to use the money for stocks.
  • Between 1921 and 1929, the Dow Jones rocketed from 60 to 400 = huge increase = millionaires created.
  • At the same time, fraudulent companies were created as scams.
stock market crash and depression cont d2
Stock Market Crash and Depression cont'd
  • by 1929 the economy was slowing because people no longer needed the big, expensive items (ie. automobiles, radios, appliances), so production decreased. Companies and workers lost money and jobs.
  • Since companies and workers were losing money and jobs, people stopped spending money.
  • After a continuous rise of the market, on Thursday, October 24, 1929, stock prices plummeted. People panicked and tried to sell their stocks. No one was buying, though, so the stocks were worthless.
  • A group of bankers invested their own money into the stock market, which convinced others to stop selling their stocks.
  • By the end of the day, many people were buying stocks again.
stock market crash and depression cont d3
Stock Market Crash and Depression cont'd
  • Tuesday, October 29, 1929 is known as "Black Tuesday" or the worst day in stock market history. Everyone was selling, no one was buying and stock prices collapsed.
  • People who had purchased stocks on margin had to declare bankruptcy; many were committing suicide.
  • If you used money from the bank (ie. Mortgaged your home, land, etc.) you had nothing to pay back the loan and lost your home.
  • All were effected for years to come as the Stock Market Crash is credited with started the Great Depression.
stock market crash and depression cont d4
Stock Market Crash and Depression cont'd
  • Great Depression lasted until mid-late 1930s.
  • Characterized by mass poverty, lots of workers out of work; everyone was effected.
  • Farmers who didn't lose their homes, farms, equipment couldn't sell their crops because no one had money to buy.
  • 1/3 of Americans lived below the poverty line.
  • Banks were forced to close – massive withdrawals and loss of money on the stock market.
the secret life of bees5
The Secret Life of Bees

Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s

  • Nonviolent protest begun in late 1950s
  • Movement to achieve equality for EVERYONE
  • North and South US separated on issue of race
  • South had racially segregated public facilities (due to Jim Crow Laws), even though by law they were equal
  • Northern states were 'free' for blacks
civil rights movement cont d
Civil Rights Movement cont'd
  • In the South, most public places were

segregated. Stores would have "WHITES

ONLY" signs, fountains/parks

and schools would be


  • In 1954, US Supreme Court

ruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that school segregation was unconstitutional.

civil rights movement cont d1
Civil Rights Movement cont'd
  • In 1957, Little Rock Nine

were the first black

teenagers to attend

all-white Central High

School in Little Rock,

Arkansas. On the first day

of school, the governor of Arkansas

ordered the state's National Guard to prevent students from entering.

- President Eisenhower had to send federal troops to

protect students. Still, they faced threats, insults, and

mobs of people who spat on them.

civil rights movement cont d2
Civil Rights Movement cont'd
  • December 1, 1955 – Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat at the front of the 'colored section' of the public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She was arrested. This began the Montgomery Bus Boycott, in which blacks in Montgomery refused to use public transportation until buses were desegregated.
  • Bus Boycott lasted over 1 year

until a federal ruling came into

effect that said segregated bus

laws were unconstitutional

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. was

instrumental in leading the


civil rights movement cont d3
Civil Rights Movement cont'd
  • 1962 – President Kennedy sent

troops to University of

Mississippi to ensure first black

student (James Meredith) could

safely attend. Riot ensued and 2

people were killed and

300+ injured in the violent riot

between protestors, National

Guard and eventually the U.S.


- Also, Supreme Court rules segregation of transportation facilities is unconstitutional.

civil rights movement
Civil Rights Movement

May 1963 – Commissioner of Public Safety in Birmingham, Alabama uses fire hoses and police dogs on black demonstrators during civil rights protests:

- help gain sympathy for

civil rights movement.

civil rights movement cont d4
Civil Rights Movement cont'd
  • August 28, 1963 – 200 000 join March on

Washington where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his

"I Have a Dream" speech

- 1964 - President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, which officially abolishes racial segregation in the U.S.

- 1964 – setting of our novel (SLB)

                  • 1965 – Voting Rights Act outlawed discriminatory voting practices
                  • Jim Crow Laws officially overruled
civil rights movement1
Civil Rights Movement
  • 1967 – Thurgood Marshall named first black Supreme Court Justice
  • April 4, 1968 – Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated

- James Earl Ray arrested, pled guilty and sentenced to 99 years in Tennessee state penitentiary