IN THE NEWS! #BigIsms #BLM #FRancisScottKey #HistoryWars


Black Lives Matter, She Wrote. Then ‘Everything Just Imploded.’
Erica L. Green, October 10, 2021, The New York Times


CENTREVILLE, Md. — When Andrea Kane sat down to write a letter to parents in her school district days after George Floyd’s death in 2020, images of the Black man pleading for his life under the knee of a white Minnesota police officer were haunting her.

Dr. Kane, the superintendent, saw him in the faces of Black students in her district and heard him crying out for his mother when she spoke to her own sons. So she started her letter with a warning that it would bear not just “good news,” but “a bit of a reality check.”

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the high-performing district on the Eastern Shore of Maryland had closed out the year with much to be proud of. But like the rest of the country, Dr. Kane said, the community had another crisis to confront.

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Francis Scott Key: One of the anti-slavery movement’s great villains
Bennett Parten, September 29, 2021, The Conversation


The history wars – the battle over how we teach our country’s past – are raging.

The United States is confronting the legacies of slavery as never before. This national reconsideration has been prompted by police killings of unarmed Black men and The New York Times’ “1619 Project,” which reexamines the history of slavery in the U.S.

Outcries from conservatives over legal scholarship known as critical race theory, the premise that racism is systemic in U.S institutions, have also added fuel to the national debate.

And that is revealing some of the deepest contradictions in our history.

As a U.S. historian, I think few people embody those contradictions like the author of the country’s national anthem, Francis Scott Key.

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Yale Center for British Art tries to identify enslaved Black child in 18th-century portrait of an early university benefactor
Nancy Kenney, 6 October 2021, The Art Newspaper


A year ago this month, when it was still closed to the public because of the pandemic, the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA) took a major step toward interrogating a controversial 18th-century group portrait in its collection centering on an early benefactor to the university, Elihu Yale. Responding to pointed criticism of the painting’s subject from students and others, it removed the work from a gallery wall, replacing it with a pointed critique by the African American painter and sculptor Titus Kaphar.

Around the same time, the museum embarked on exhaustive research on the portrait, which is now dated to around 1719 and was presumably painted at Elihu Yale’s house in London. Foremost on the research team’s minds was the identity of an enslaved boy of African descent depicted in the work, who has poured madeira into glasses for the American-born philanthropist and three other privileged white men gathered around a table.

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‘It feels like the start of something’: Reginald Dwayne Betts on his groundbreaking prison library project
Adrian Horton, 8 October 2021, The Guardian


When Reginald Dwayne Betts fell in love with poetry as a young man, his reading options were limited. He could not spend aimless hours in the library, nor have access to boundless titles, nor browse shelves at will. Convicted at 16, in 1997, of carjacking with a pistol in Fairfax county, Virginia, Betts was serving eight years in prison when an unknown person slipped a copy of Dudley Randall’s The Black Poets under his cell door.

The book opened his mind, showed him things he didn’t know were possible. It provided the entryway to a writing practice, a portal to a world outside his cell, a model to envision a future beyond prison.

Betts, now 40, a Yale-trained lawyer and a recipient last month of the prestigious MacArthur “genius grant”, now endeavors to offer incarcerated people a similar experience with 1,000 micro-libraries in prisons across the country through his non-profit, Freedom Reads.

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Monument to ‘Mothers of Gynecology’ unveiled in Montgomery
Dennis Pillion, September 27, 2021, Alabama.com


19th century Montgomery physician J. Marion Sims is often credited as the father of modern gynecology for developing new tools and techniques for women’s health that are still used today.

Often overlooked are the enslaved Black women he experimented on -- without consent or anesthesia -- to make those advancements.

A new monument unveiled Friday in Montgomery aims to tell the other side of the Sims story by honoring the “Mothers of Gynecology,” -- Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey, three of eleven enslaved women who were the unwilling subjects of Sims’ experiments in the 1840s.

The statues stand almost 15 feet high and were welded together by Montgomery artist and activist Michelle Browder. They were unveiled Friday afternoon at a ceremony at the More Up Campus on Mildred Street.

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Birmingham's shameful links to slavery uncovered by academic (Podcast)
Society Matters podcast series, 6 October 2021, Alton University, Birmingham, UK


A research project that examines digital archives around slavery and its subsequent abolition has revealed Birmingham's past involvement in the shameful trade.

The studies led by Dr Joseph Yannielli, a lecturer in history at Aston University, show how the 'workshop of the world', as Birmingham was known, contributed to the global slave trade during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Dr Yannielli spoke about his research in the latest episode of the 'Society matters' podcast series, presented by journalist Steve Dyson.

 



The Enduring Influence of Fannie Lou Hamer, Civil Rights Advocate
Jill Watts, October 5, 2021, The New York Times


Jill Watts reviews UNTIL I AM FREE: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Enduring Message to America, by Keisha N. Blain, and WALK WITH ME: A Biography of Fannie Lou Hamer, by Kate Clifford Larson.


On Aug. 22, 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer, a Black sharecropper from Mississippi, took her place before the credentials committee at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, N.J. She was there to challenge her home state’s attempt to seat an all-white delegation. On that sweltering day, in front of television cameras, Hamer proceeded to recount her efforts to register to vote in a state that historically had denied Black citizens the right to do so.

Almost two years before, she said, she had journeyed 26 miles by bus to a distant courthouse to take the state’s required literacy test. Afterward, she and the group of Black citizens she was traveling with were detained by the police — an apparent attempt to intimidate them — and when she arrived home, she found that her white landlord, incensed over her determination to register, was evicting her from the farm where she worked. The following June, she went on, as she returned from a voter registration workshop, authorities in Winona, Miss., arrested her and her traveling companions. Hamer told the credentials committee of being restrained, beaten with a blackjack and sexually assaulted by the police. “Is this America,” she asked boldly, “the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings, in America?”

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Ellen and William Craft: Blue plaque for abolitionists who fled slavery
Joseph Lee, October 5, 2021, BBC News


A black married couple who escaped slavery in the US and fled to England to campaign for abolition have been honoured with a blue plaque.

Ellen and William Craft travelled 1,000 miles from Georgia to freedom in the north, with Ellen disguised as a white man and William as her servant.

When new laws meant they could be recaptured by their enslavers, they escaped to the UK.

After their arrival they lectured on abolition, reform and social justice.

One of the most brutal aspects of the US system of slavery was used by the Crafts to aid their daring escape in 1848.

Like many enslaved people, Ellen was conceived when her mother was raped by the white man who owned her.

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absolute power depends on absolute control over knowledge, which in turn necessitates absolute corruption

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“Politicians, Priests, and psychiatrists often face the same problem: how to find the most rapid and permanent means of changing a man’s belief…The problem of the doctor and his nervously ill patient, and that of the religious leader who sets out to gain and hold new converts, has now become the problem of whole groups of nations, who wish not only to confirm certain political beliefs within their boundaries, but to proselytize the outside world.” – William Sargant “Battle of the Mind”

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