In the News #bigisms
Kerri Greenidge, 3 January 2020, The Guardian
In 1901, William Monroe Trotter founded the Guardian newspaper in Boston. At that time, the more famous Guardian – the one you’re now reading – was published in Manchester, and Trotter had never traveled further than Chillicothe, Ohio. By the time he died in 1934, however, Trotter and the Boston Guardian had a similar effect on transnational black radical politics as the Manchester Guardian had on British liberalism.
Trotter’s vow that the Guardian “hold a mirror up to nature” invoked a black radical tradition rooted in 18th century transatlantic slave rebellion and the militant abolition of African diasporic communities throughout the Americas. The Manchester Guardian, in contrast, supported progressive racial reform of America’s so-called “negro problem” even as it adhered to a liberal tradition that diluted the radical “colored world democracy” that Trotter demanded.
William Monroe Trotter was born in 1872 and jumped to his death 62 years later. He grew up in Hyde Park, then a suburb of Boston proper, and graduated from Harvard in 1895. Despite his comparative privilege, he entered adulthood during the period that scholars refer to as the “racial nadir” of African American history. Southern lynching, disfranchisement, and segregation limited Trotter’s prospects even with a hefty inheritance from his father, and a promising career as a real estate broker.
Although he was offered a job teaching in the segregated south, Trotter’s principles – he refused to bow to Jim Crow laws and their restrictions – made him consider expatriation in Europe where “at least [he] would be treated as a man”. When he founded the Boston Guardian, Trotter was determined to use the medium of the press as it had originally been used when Freedom’s Journal, America’s first black newspaper, was founded in New York in 1827. “Too long have others spoken for us, too long has the public been deceived by misrepresentations,” Freedom’s Journal proclaimed at a time when white newspapers and magazines justified slavery’s expansion and Native American removal through images of African inferiority and “Anglo-Saxon” superiority.
What everyone should know about Reconstruction 150 years after the 15th Amendment’s ratification
Tiffany Mitchell Patterson, January 3, 2020, The Conversation
I’ll never forget a student’s response when I asked during a middle school social studies class what they knew about black history: “Martin Luther King freed the slaves.”
Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929, more than six decades after the time of enslavement. To me, this comment underscored how closely Americans associate black history with slavery.
While shocked, I knew this mistaken belief reflected the lack of time, depth and breadth schools devote to black history. Most students get limited information and context about what African Americans have experienced since our ancestors arrived here four centuries ago. Without independent study, most adults aren’t up to speed either.
For instance, what do you know about Reconstruction?
I’m excited about new resources for teaching children, and everyone else, more about the history of slavery through The New York Times’ “1619 Project.” But based on my experience teaching social studies and my current work preparing social studies educators, I also consider understanding what happened during the Reconstruction essential for exploring black power, resilience and excellence.
What A Line Deleted From the Declaration of Independence Teaches Us About Thomas Jefferson
M. Andrew Holowchak, December 29, 2019, History News Network
In his first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson listed a “long train of abuses & usurpations,” at the hand of King George III. Those, he added, are “begun at a distinguished period, & pursuing invariably the same object.” Those abuses are indicative of “arbitrary power,” and it is the right, even duty, of those abused to throw off such discretionary abuse of authority and establish such government, by consent of the people, in accordance of the will of the people.
One passage—by far the longest and intentionally placed, for effect, after all other complaints—was a gripe about George III’s role in the North American slave trade, and it was excised by members of the Congress, because the issue of slavery was a divisive issue and the time was not right for debate on it. Yet it is still of importance to scholars of Jefferson because it tells us much of his thinking on slavery at the time of composition of the Declaration. It also contains a heretofore undisclosed argument, implicit, on George III’s hypocrisy apropos of slavery, and that argument has implications for the hypocrisy of the colonists.
The abuses Jefferson limns in his draft of the Declaration are many, at least 25—some complaints he lists are compound claims—and he lists last and devotes the most ink to introduction of slavery into the colonies.
Some lawmakers support removing slavery reference from Minnesota Constitution (audio)
Briana Bierschbach, January 2, 2020, Minnesota Public Radio
Some Minnesota lawmakers want to amend the state’s constitution to eliminate a little-known clause allowing slavery if someone has been convicted of a crime.
“There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the state otherwise than as punishment for a crime of which the party has been convicted,” the language in article 1, section 2 reads.
In a Facebook post this week, St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell wrote that he has long been troubled by the clause.
“Words matter,” he wrote. “That’s why I’m making it my 2020 resolution to raise awareness of this clause to ignite a movement among people who care about doing what’s right — a movement to champion an amendment removing slavery from the Minnesota State Constitution.”
Already, his post has prompted action from state lawmakers. Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, said he plans to draft a constitutional amendment to change the language and will hold hearings on the issue during the 2020 legislative session that begins next month.