VAGRANCY: state of living as a vagrant; homeless; “LOITERING.”
I am going to tell you a little story that was told to me by my father years ago. There was once a slave named Johnny Boy, now Johnny Boy was younger and more competent than your average slave, and although young, Johnny Boy was taught to read under the stars at night while massa was asleep. Johnny Boy could read well, but he was told to keep his talent hidden, for if massa found out, he would cut out Johnny Boys wise tongue. Johnny Boy was constantly thinking of a way to escape the plantation that held him hostage, for his mind was young, and his appetite for freedom kept his mind full of ways to escape. Then one day massa came up to Johnny Boy and told him that he would now be working for him in the big house. Johnny Boy had been working hard for years trying to please massa for the opportunity to get into the big house, for that was his plan all along. Johnny Boy felt that this was his first major step to escaping his chains, so Johnny Boy packed his few personal belongings and headed to the big house. Once inside the big house Johnny Boy began to take mental notes of everything that was at his disposal, for he knows that his stay in the big house will be short lived, “you cannot let these niggers get to comfortable,” massa would often say. Then one day while Johnny Boy was cleaning the office in the big house, massa came up to him and said, “You are free now boy!” With a look of astonishment Johnny Boy responded with his best ignorant nigger act, “I is free boss?” I is a free man now?” “Yes, now leave this place, for shortly you will be charged with trespassing” he said, while holding on tight to his shotgun smiling mischievously. As Johnny Boy grabbed his few belongings and left the big house, he seen many slaves jumping in jubilation. “We are free!” “We are free! “We are free!” Although elated, Johnny Boy began to notice that many older slaves were not celebrating their freedom, they just shook their heads and kept their eyes to the ground. “They are just old,” Johnny Boy thought to himself as he continued to celebrate. Johnny Boy made his way outside of the plantation but he had nowhere to go, but he knew that he was not going back to the plantation, for he knows what awaits his arrival. Johnny Boy was never heard from again…..
If another human being was given the authority to punish you on a daily and continuous basis for years, and then one day he decides to set you free from your life of servitude because he knows that you have nowhere to go, what would you do? Massa knows that your freedom needs to eat, it needs to drink, it needs to stay warm, and it needs direction, for massa knows the cost of freedom, a cost that a “Free slave” cannot afford. Once the “Free slaves” realized that they could not afford to be free, many decided that it would be in their best interest to go back to their plantations. But the white man is an evil one, he conjured up a law to recapture the “Free slaves” who continued to search for a way to pay for their so called freedom, a law that exist to this day.
1. Vagrancy Act of 1866- made it a crime for a person to wander from place to place without visible means of support. Basically, these laws criminalized being jobless and homeless. The Law came shortly after the American Civil War, when hundreds of thousands of African Americans, many of them just free from slavery, wandered in search of work and displaced family members.
“But you, God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay; the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days, but as for me, I TRUST IN YOU!”