The man in this 1863 picture is an escaped slave from the Mississippi Delta, named Gordon, whom I like to think of as a distant relative. Even if the connection we share isn’t of the molecular one composed of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon combined in the double helix better known as DNA that CSI NY has so many of us assuming we are familiar with, even if we failed high-school chemistry.
However, the connection that me and Prince Gordon share is a soulish one as we’ve both been victimized in the country of our Birth .
When you see the flesh of Gordon’s back cut open into a thousand pieces, what’s the first thing that jumps into your mind?
One person may wonder aloud, “what did he do to possibly deserve such vicious, inhumane treatment?” While another would protest vehemently that there was no offense that a man could commit that would warrant such treatment. Another person might bemoan the injustice of the entire American slave system and its aftermath that declared some men as masters and the others as beast of burden with absolutely no say so over their lives based solely on the color of their skin. Each would have a hold on a small fiber of the truth.
When I encountered the portrait of Gordon eight years ago, I was immediately drawn to the regal grace and kingliness of the man. And I saw the welts on his back representing not a source of shame but pride. A crown of splendid glory carved into his flesh as majestic as any that was ever worn by the Kings and Queens of Europe. For Gordon’s crown is emblematic of his quest to be a man, in a unjust soul-crushing system that refused to acknowledge him as such.
The more I studied the photo, the more mesmerized I became with who this man was and what he had endured in the name of manhood. It was then that I realized me and Gordon were kindred spirits and that the scars on his back represented the wounds of my very own soul.
Like a ghost from beyond the grave Gordon’s spirit was a light onto my feet. Showing me the way. The way of all those who refuse to turn back, lay down, let up, shut up, or give up come what may even the hated twin foes of bodily injury and death.
In essence, Gordon was telling me and all the world that yes, he was beaten, but he was UNBROKEN. That his head was bloodied, but UNBOWED.
From the seeds of Gordon’s courage came the inspiration for my publishing company UNBROKEN UNBOWED PRESS, with Gordon as the company’s figure head for his life represents the highest aspirations that UNBROKEN UNBOWED PRESS seeks to embody.
A publishing company for all the kindred souls who refuse to take no for an answer, who refuse to turn back in the face of adversity – for the outcast, social lepers, misfits, convicts, and all the men and women which a Gordon Spirit who retain their dignity, pride, hope, courage and grace even in the face of unimaginable hardships and adversity. UNBROKEN UNBOWED PRESS is for them and all the Gordons of the world.
At UNBROKEN UNBOWED PRESS, we agree with the eminent late black scholar Manning Marble who said, “KNOWLEDGE FROM THE VANTAGE POINT OF THE OPPRESSED, MUST NOT ONLY INFORM, BUT TRANSFORM THE REAL CONDITIONS OF DAILY LIFE IN WHICH PEOPLE LIVE.”
If you are anyone you knows has a Gordon Spirit check us out at http://www.wix.com/unbrokenunbowedpress/home as well as Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Unbroken-Unbowed-Press/365012860183016