Underground Railroad: In the
United States before the Civil War, a vast network of people organized
to free slaves from the South. It started in the colonial period and
reached its peak in the early 1830s. An estimated 100,000 slaves were
freed using the secretive system of safe houses and transportation.
Slaves often used songs to relay messages of escape. Notable figures
include John Fairfield in Ohio, the son of a slaveholding family, who
made many daring rescues; Quaker Levi Coffin, who assisted more than
3,000 slaves; and Harriet Tubman, who made 19 trips into the South and
escorted over 300 slaves to freedom.
United Negro College Fund, The (UNCF):
Nations largest, oldest and most comprehensive minority higher
education assistance organization. UNCF provides funding and services
for 39 member historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs),
scholarships and internships for students at almost 1,000 institutions
and faculty and administrative professional training. May use UNCF on
Uncle Tom: A term of contempt.
Based on the main character, an elderly black man, in Harriet Beecher
Stowes Uncle Toms Cabin, a novel that protested the use of slavery. In
today's terms, it means a black person who treats whites as superiors or
who is eager to please them. Do not apply it to a person.
Uncle Toms Cabin (or Life Among the Lowly):
1852 antislavery novel and controversial bestseller by Harriet Beecher
Stowe that increased sentiment against slavery. Main character Uncle Tom
is a pious and faithful slave sold by his master to a brutal plantation
owner, who later beat Uncle Tom to death. Before dying Uncle Tom prayed
for his masters repentance and salvation. Some historians credit the
novel with helping to prompt the Civil War. (See slavery.)
Voting Rights Act: Enacted on Aug.
6, 1965, it empowered the federal government to oversee voter
registration and elections in communities, especially in the South, that
had used tests to determine voter eligibility and or where registration
or turnout was less than 50 percent in the 1964 presidential election.
It also banned discriminatory literacy tests and expanded voting rights
for non-English speaking Americans. The laws effects were wide and
powerful. By 1968, for example, nearly 60 percent of eligible blacks
were registered to vote in Mississippi. The Voting Rights Act was
extended in 1970, 1975, and 1982 and despite some setbacks and debates
had an enormous impact by helping elect black lawmakers at the local,
state and national levels.
wigger: A derogatory term used for a white person who mimics language, dress and mannerisms of blacks; a white person who acts black.