Luanne Rife’s July 14 story about slavery in Wythe County ("A belated reunion visits ancestor's home") wakes up some sad old echoes: Imagine being sold and having to leave your children behind -- or being poor and white, trying to scratch out a living while some of the black slaves were eating better than your own family.

In Speedwell they tell a story about King Morgan, who had himself buried upright so he could keep an eye on his slaves. Over Iron Mountain in Grayson County, some of the early white settlers were indentured servants who ran off from Tidewater plantations back east before their time was out.

Reconstruction pitted poor whites and former slaves against each other. They had to compete for the same hard-scrabble existence in these mountains while the bankers prospered. During the not-so-Great Depression in Grayson County, a local banker bought votes in a local election by handing out $5 bills to tenant farmers as they arrived at the polls.

Could it be that a lot of the wrong people have way too much money, way too much control over our lives? As long as hate divides us, are we not weakened? In the words of Rodney King after he was beaten to a pulp by Los Angeles police, Why can’t we all just get along?



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