Showing posts from 2019

IN THE NEWS #bigisms

In the News

Frederick Douglass’s Vision for a Reborn America
David Blight, December 2019, The Atlantic

“We are a country of all extremes, ends and opposites; the most conspicuous example of composite nationality in the world … In races we range all the way from black to white, with intermediate shades which, as in the apocalyptic vision, no man can name or number.”
— Frederick Douglass, 1869

In the late 1860s, Frederick Douglass, the fugitive slave turned prose poet of American democracy, toured the country spreading his most sanguine vision of a pluralist future of human equality in the recently re-United States. It is a vision worth revisiting at a time when the country seems once again to be a house divided over ethnicity and race, and over how to interpret our foundational creeds.

The Thirteenth Amendment (ending slavery) had been ratified, Congress had approved the Fourteenth Amendment (introducing birthright citizenship and the equal-protection clause), and Douglass was…

The World We Used To Live In


Antigua Demands Harvard Pay Reparations for Benefiting From Slavery

Antigua Demands Harvard Pay Reparations for Benefiting From SlaveryThe labor of enslaved people paid for the founding of Harvard Law School, Antigua’s prime minister reminded the college’s president.

READ: Antigua Demands Harvard Pay Reparations for Benefiting From Slavery

What W. E. B. Du Bois Conveyed in His Captivating Infographics

In 1893, Ida B. Wells published a pamphlet titled “The Reason Why the Colored American Is Not in the World’s Columbian Exposition.” The expo, which lasted for six months, was held in Chicago and was meant to chart the trajectory of the Americas in the four hundred years since Columbus had arrived.  Though a handful of African-Americans had individual exhibits at the fair, there was none specifically dedicated to the history or the accomplishments of African-Americans as a people. Wells secured contributions for the pamphlet from Frederick Douglass, the educator and journalist Irvine Garland Penn, and the lawyer and activist Ferdinand Lee Barnett. Together with Wells, they wrote about the ways in which black life could enrich the fair’s official version of American history, which, as Wells noted in the pamphlet’s introduction, had rendered invisible the contributions of black people to the American might that the fair was intended to celebrate.
GREAT READ: What W. E. B. Du Bois Conveye…

British university appoints history professor to examine its links to transatlantic slave trade

British university appoints history professor to examine its links to transatlantic slave trade
Gianluca Mezzofiore, CNN, October 30, 2019

A British university has appointed the country's first black female professor of history to lead research into the transatlantic slave trade.

Olivette Otele will take up her new role as the University of Bristol's first Professor of the History of Slavery on January 1, the institution said in a press release.

Her first task will be a two-year research project on the university's and the city of Bristol's involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.

Bristol's wealth in the 17th century was largely built on the slave trade, with more than 2,000 slaving vessels setting out from the city's port between 1698 and 1807, when Parliament abolished the slave trade, according to Bristol Museums.

During that period, slave ships carried more than 500,000 people from Africa to the Americas.
One slave trader, Edward Colston, tran…

The Last Lynching Victim in South Carolina

The Last Lynching Victim in South Carolina
Brent M. S. Campney reviews William B. Gravely’s They Stole Him Out of Jail: Willie Earle, South Carolina’s Last Lynching Victim.
October 31, 2019, Black Perspectives

In They Stole Him Out of Jail: Willie Earle, South Carolina’s Last Lynching Victim, William B. Gravely, professor emeritus at the University of Denver, explores the 1947 lynching of Willie Earle in South Carolina, the criminal investigations and trials that followed, and the memory and legacy of those events. The product of some forty years of research, the book builds upon an impressive evidentiary base, including newspaper coverage by the Black and white presses, interviews with participants and witnesses, and letters and a notebook regarding the trial proceedings written by the British novelist Rebecca West, who was in attendance. Unfortunately, he notes, “no library, private holdings, attorney files, court records, or archive has a transcript of the trial” (168)…

Hundreds of People to Reenact One of the Largest Slave Rebellions in U.S. History

Chantal da Silva, October 28, 2019, Newsweek

It was just over two centuries ago that as many as 500 enslaved people in Louisiana started to march nearly 26 miles to New Orleans, chanting the battle cry: "Freedom or Death."

For many, the effort would end in the latter, with dozens of people believed to have been brutally killed. Surviving organizers were forced to face a tribunal, which saw some sentenced to death by firing squad.

The "German Coast Uprising of 1811" would go on to be known as one of the largest slave rebellions in history–yet, as The Smithsonian noted, it is "oft-overlooked."

One artist, Dread Scott, is looking to change that, however, organizing a reenactment of the uprising that will see hundreds of people march 26 miles over the span of two days on November 8 and 9 to ensure that an important moment in U.S. history is never forgotten.

"The position of black people in American society is a big question, including the agency…

The Electoral College must be eliminated

The Electoral College: How the Founders Cheated You of Your Voteby Harlow Giles UngerWeeks of debate by America’s Founders failed to set any rules at the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia—a failure that led to “cheating” at the Electoral College ever since. The aging Benjamin Franklin agreed that failure to permit the people to choose the chief magistrate was “contrary to republican principles. In free governments, the rulers are the servants, and the people their superiors and sovereigns.” read 

$27 Million for Reparations Over Slave Ties Pledged by Seminary

$27 Million for Reparations Over Slave Ties Pledged by Seminary
Ed Shanahan,  October 21, 2019, The New York Times

A New Jersey seminary has pledged to spend $27 million on scholarships and other initiatives to address its historical ties to slavery, in what appears to be the biggest effort of its kind.

The announcement, by the Princeton Theological Seminary on Friday, came about a year after an internal report detailed the findings of a two-year investigation that showed slavery’s deep roots in the school’s past.

The move put the seminary at the heart of a national discussion about what those who reaped the benefits of slavery — and the United States as a whole — owe to the descendants of slaves.

In a sign of that discussion’s complicated nature, Nicholas Young, the leader of a black student group at the seminary, said that the steps outlined by officials amounted to “a good start” but that they fell short of what the group had sought. About 10 percent of the seminary’s 36…

Mormons in Mexico: A brief history of polygamy, cartel violence and faith

Mormons in Mexico: A brief history of polygamy, cartel violence and faithby Rebecca JanzenAlong with the Romneys – relatives of Sen. Mitt Romney, whose father was born in Mexico – the LeBarons are among the most storied families in Mormon history. Members of Utah’s Latter-Day Saints community emigrated to Mexico in the 1880s to follow their religious beliefs by living in polygamous families, which was illegal in the United States. +Members of this community report enduring beatings, underage marriage and other abuse, as the escapee Anna LeBaron recounts in her 2017 memoir “The Polygamist’s Daughter.” 
Legal definition of polygamy: Theoffense of willfullyandknowinglyhavingmorethanonewife or husband at thesametime.Theoffense of willfullyandknowinglyenteringinto asecondmarriagewhilevalidlymarried to anotherindividual is bigamy.

Anti-polygamylaws in theUnitedStatesalsosprangfromreligiousconflict. In themid-1800s,widespreadpublichostilityarosetowardthepractice of polygamy by members of theCh…

Stories From Slavery, Shared Over Generations #1619Project

Nicole Phillip, October 29, 2019, The New York Times Magazine

Americans descended from enslaved ancestors often struggle to trace their family histories. Vivid, well-documented stories are precious and rare.

But when we asked readers of The 1619 Project to share stories about their enslaved ancestors, dozens of readers replied — and many shared documents and photographs.

The images and stories below help paint a picture of a too-often-erased American history. The responses have been condensed and edited for clarity.

The Civil War Veteran
The Rev. Moses Berry, 69, of Ashgrove, Mo., shared this photograph and the story behind it.

The Photograph This was always in the family picture book. Every 10 years, the Missouri Sixth Cavalry had a reunion and a group photo was taken. This one was from November 1908. My great-grandfather Wallace White sits at the bottom, third from the right.

The Story Wallace was freed before the end of the Civil War by Union soldiers, from the field where …

23 years a slave

Restaurant Owner Enslaved Intellectually Disabled Black Man — Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) November 7, 2019

The 1526 Project

The 1526 Project: Horrors in Florida's Black History You Didn't Learn in School
Jess Nelson, October 22, 2019, Miami New Times

The horrors of slavery in United States history and its continued impact today are undeniable. Though Florida's pristine beaches and palm trees aren't typically regarded as part of America's Deep South, the facts say otherwise.

The New York Times' groundbreaking "1619 Project" examined the legacy of slavery on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to America's 13 original colonies. But slavery existed in the Spanish colony of La Florida nearly a century earlier. On the eve of the American Civil War, half of Florida's population were slaves, and Florida was the third state to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy in order to preserve slavery and white supremacy. Jim Crow laws were introduced during Reconstruction to enforce racial segregation in the apartheid state while the Ku K…

Honoring the Lyons family

Their Land Became Part of Central Park. They’re Coming Back in a Monument.
Julia Jacobs, October 20, 2019, The New York Times

In Central Park, about a mile from land that was once home to Seneca Village, a mostly black community forced out by the park’s creation in the 1850s, the city is planning a privately funded monument to a revered black family from that time.

The new addition to New York’s landscape, honoring the Lyons family, is part of the de Blasio administration’s push to diversify the city’s public art and recognize overlooked figures from its history. The Lyonses were Seneca Village property owners, educators and dedicated abolitionists, running a boardinghouse for black sailors that doubled as a stop on the Underground Railroad. The monument will include the figures of Albro Lyons, Mary Joseph Lyons and their daughter Maritcha Lyons, who was significant in her own right as a teacher, suffragist and racial justice activist.

“We traverse towns and cities across t…

White nationalism

White Nationalism, anyone? — Schrödinger's adopted jesus (@SnavelyBrent) November 5, 2019 — Sandy Keith Buckles (@SandyBuckles) November 5, 2019

Why the New Emmett Till Memorial Needed to Be Bulletproof

Why the New Emmett Till Memorial Needed to Be Bulletproof
The Editorial Board, October 23, 2019, The New York Times

Mississippi was the epicenter of the racial terror lynchings in which thousands of African-American men, women and children were hanged, shot, drowned, dismembered or burned alive across the South between the end of the Civil War and the mid-20th century.

The case of the state’s best-known victim — 14-year-old Emmett Till, lynched in 1955 — stands out against this blood-drenched backdrop, both for the barbaric violence involved and because the murder helped to galvanize the modern civil rights movement.

Despite its obvious importance, the Till story remained shut out of Mississippi’s civic life until 2005, when signs memorializing the lynching started to appear in public — and were targeted for desecration.

The defilement of the signs reflects the belief that Mississippi’s public square should be reserved for Confederate memorials and other testaments to whit…

Stereotypes and clichés about Native Americans obviously abound today

The Truth Is Out There

Writing truthfully is an act of bravery. It takes courage to put words into the world, knowing they will be judged and you along with them. The more truth there is to a story, the more powerful it is, and the more vulnerable the one who wrote it. I am proud that every piece collected here represents a facet of truth, contributed by a group of writers who each are unique, talented, and courageous.

Some of the stories in this issue of TCJ Student paint pictures of fleeting moments of melancholy or happiness, while others capture the span of years that it takes trees to root. Some turn outward into the world to thrill with whip-crack snaps of violence, and others fold inward to ponder the patterns of thinking that can define a people. These stories are fascinating and touching, and they are more than just words on a page. By virtue of their existence, they are an unrepentant reclamation of a stolen narrative.

Stereotypes and clichés about Native American…

Acknowledging Middletown's Ties To Slavery (audio)

Carmen Baskauf and Lucy Nalpathanchil, October 24, 2019, WNPR

Middletown today is known for its vibrant main street and the scenic grounds of Wesleyan University.

But the city began as a trading port on the Connecticut River, and from its founding, much of the wealth that came into that port was tied to the transatlantic slave trade. This hour, we hear about a new UNESCO memorial that has brought recognition to that city’s role in slavery.

We also learn about members of a historic African American family in that city who were at the forefront of fighting slavery. The Bemans were prominent abolitionists and leaders in the Middletown’s free black community in the 19th century.


Lies My Teacher Told Me

The 10 most misleading American historical sitesby James Loewen
James W Loewen is professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Vermont and the bestselling and award-winning author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, Lies Across America, Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus, Sundown Towns, and Lies My Teacher Told Me: Young Readers’ Edition (all from The New Press).

When I was a kid, my dad stopped the car at every historical marker on our family vacations. He thought he was educating us. But too often these markers were telling us things that never happened and leaving out important things that did. Here’s a quick tour of 10 of the worst historic sites in the US.
1 Wrongest In Almo, Idaho, a slab of stone carved into the shape of Idaho memorializes a shocking incident in the history of the west: “Dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in a horrible Indian massacre, 1861. Three hundred immigrants west bound. Only five escaped.”
The only proble…

Two major forces contribute to hate: racism and inequality

The connecting line between addiction and hate, according to Dr. Gabor Maté, is trauma.
Two major forces contribute to hate: racism and inequality.
"The research is absolutely clear," Maté says. "The more inequality in a society, the more hate, the more dysfunction, the more mental illness, the more physical illness." It should come as no surprise, then, that we see more addiction and more mass shootings since "the inequality is rising all the time." Violence against racial, ethnic, or religious groups "is a manifestation of a society that foments division amongst people and sets people against each other."
We can reduce the harm of hate by not letting it boil over. We can vote for legislators who will enact gun laws to reduce the harm in those moments that it does.  And we can create an environment that allows parents to be there for their children emotionally to prevent trauma — that includes paid family leave and stopping the f…

The Violent Backbone of Slavery

In 'Stolen,' Five Boys Are Caught In A Reverse Underground Railroad Toward Slavery
Ilana Masad, October 16, 2019, National Public Radio

In the second episode of 1619, journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones’ New York Times-produced podcast, she interviews sociologist Matthew Desmond about the ways in which the institution of slavery in the United States both drove and was driven by economic concerns.

"[M]any of our depictions of the cotton plantation are bucolic and small," Desmond says at one point. "[Y]ou might see a handful of enslaved workers in the fields, and an overseer on a horse, and then the owner in a big house. That's not how it was. It was incredibly complex... [C]omplex hierarchies with mid-level managers... Complicated workforce supervision techniques were developed... Professional manuals and credentials were developed... But behind all the sophistication, behind all this capitalistic rationality, was violence."

Indeed, slavery wasn&…

Amazon’s “Rekognition” technology (Of the 28 misidentifications, 50% were Patriots players.)

Amazon Facial Recognition Falsely Links 27 Athletes to Mugshots in ACLU Study Massachusetts’s American Civil Liberties Union chapter revealed Amazon’s “Rekognition” technology falsely linked the faces of 27 professional athletes in New England to mugshots in a criminal database. In the case of Amazon’s facial recognition software, “recognition” might be a misnomer.
The Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced this month that Amazon’s “Rekognition” technology falsely linked the faces of 27 professional athletes in New England to mugshots in a criminal database.
As part of a probe on face surveillance, the Massachusetts ACLU filtered 188 local athletes through a database of 20,000 mugshots.
Among the misidentified were Patriots running back James White, Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale, and three-time Super Bowl winner and Patriots safety Duran Harmon. (Of the 28 misidentifications, 50% were Patriots players.)READ

Andrew Johnson back in spotlight for 1868 impeachment brush

Andrew Johnson back in spotlight for 1868 impeachment brush
David Crary, October 12, 2019, AP News

The president traveled the country, fanning racial animus. He viewed the Congress with disdain. He also tried to undo some of the most important achievements of his predecessor, using executive power.

That was not Donald Trump, but another president who faced the ignominy of impeachment: Andrew Johnson.

As the impeachment inquiry of Trump unfolds, Johnson, never among America’s most famous presidents, though widely considered one of the worst, is attracting renewed attention.

Johnson was the first president to be impeached, by the House of Representatives in 1868. He escaped removal from office by a single vote short of the required two-thirds after his trial in the Senate, but was so disgraced he was denied his party’s nomination that year.

Trump and Johnson came from opposite ends of America’s social spectrum — Johnson from deep poverty, Trump from great wealth. Yet they share…

More than 4,000 people have been lynched in the U.S. Trump isn’t one of them.

More than 4,000 people have been lynched in the U.S. Trump isn’t one of them.
Gillian Brockell, October 22, 2019, The Washington Post

They hang like coffins, more than 800 steel plates suspended from the ceiling, each representing a county in the United States where a lynching took place. Engraved on the broad face of each plate are the names of the victims and the days they were lynched: “Benjamin Hart, 05.08.1887,” “Maggie House, 12.21.1918,” “Unknown, 11.20.1899.” Some plates contain dozens of names.

At the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala., more than 4,000 victims of racist terrorism are remembered over the heads of visitors.

On Tuesday morning, President Trump compared the House impeachment inquiry into his conduct to “a lynching,” generating a firestorm of condemnation.

Lynching is the extrajudicial murder of an untried suspect, usually by a mob and often by hanging.

In the United States, 4,743 lynchings were recorded between 1882 and 1968, acc…

How I got revenge on a plantation tour

How I got revenge on a plantation tour
Nygel Turner, 18 October 2019, The Guardian

August is my favorite month because every year my family goes on an African American themed Caribbean Island cruise – replace the shuffle board with a basketball court, switch out the chicken nuggets for southern fried chicken, and get rid of whatever weak a capella group is performing and insert Fantasia. But the summer before my senior year in high school, my family and I flew to New Orleans instead – my dad had a surprise specifically for me.

When he met me in our hotel lobby with my uncle Al, I thought to myself, “A little father and son and uncle bonding time. I’m with it.” But then a luxury tour bus pulled up to the curb, and suddenly all these people piled out of the hotel and started boarding. “Oh, a wine tour?” I thought. My dad, my uncle and I hopped on last. I saw a digital sign above the bus driver’s head that read: “PLANTATION TOURS.”

There was not a single black passenger on th…

So you want to talk about lynching? Understand this first.

by Michele Norris
Michele Norris is a former host of NPR’s “All Things Considered” and the founding director of the Race Card Project.

So you want to talk about lynching?
Okay. Let’s talk.
A lynching involved a man, but sometimes a woman or a child, who was dragged from home, heels in the dirt, body contorting, convulsing with fear.
A lynching involved another man — this time, almost always a man — finding a rope and making a noose, or perhaps finding a rope that had already been made into a noose, for this was not exactly rare in an earlier time. It took a special kind of rope to hold the knot, to hold the weight. A heavy rope. Corded and coarse.
The knot took skill; the act was impulsive, but the details relied on practiced technique. The genus, health and shape of the tree were important. Were the branches high enough? Thick enough? Healthy enough to accommodate the sudden plummet of death?
A lynching was bulging eyes and slobber and spittle.
It took a mob, a …

1619 Might Not Be the Right Year: 6 Shocking Facts About Slavery, Natives and African Americans

Wikimedia Commons “Slaves working in 17th-century Virginia,” by an unknown artist, 1670. by Sep 12, 2017
1619, the year slavery was born, or was it?

The Joseph Jenkins Roberts Center at Norfolk State University (NSU) held a conference called 1619: The Making of America in September of 2013. That year is historically significant because it was the first year Africans were brought to the colonies, slavery was born and it was the year America’s first legislative body was founded.

In an admirable gesture to honor all of the cultural relations happening in the America’s in 1619, NSU hosted several Native speakers and those familiar with Native history to address many issues not often covered in today’s classrooms. During these sessions, many little known facts about African Americans, Native Americans and slavery were addressed in the years following 1619.

The Term Negro May Have Been Meant For American Indians
During the session Native Americans at 1619 Dr. Arica Co…

John Smith's Capture : more a legend than history

The basic story of John Smith and Pocahontas, whether in fiction or history textbooks, is well known; indeed, it became more a legend than history. The fact that Smith failed to write about Pocahontas saving his life before 1624 (when the event actually happened in 1607) led many to believe that the story was actually a fable. Scholars now attribute this omission to the fact that the Virginia Company did not want any "hair-raising" stories about Virginia Indians to become public and possibly dissuade potential colonists from migrating to the colony. What is Smith's story about his captivity? What are Smith's attitudes toward these Indians? To what extent does Wingfield's report support Smith's story?

View the original documents by clicking on the links below. Both documents are from The Capital and the Bay. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.

Governor Edward-Maria Wingfield's Report, 1607
Decem.--The 10th of December, Mr Smy…

White Fragility

Little Man Little Man