5 of the worst whitesplaining excuses for racism | In The News: Harvard, Ta-Nehisi Coates

Top Photo: 2016 found a number of white folks giving half-assed apologies for racist behavior.

READ: 5 of the worst whitesplaining excuses for racism | Fusion


In the News

In Covering Civil Rights, Reporter Enhanced His Words With Film

Rachel L. Swarns and Darcy Eveleigh, Feb. 4, 2017, The New York Times

The copper-jacketed bullet tore through a civil rights worker’s shoulder, stopping within an inch of his spine. The shotgun blast shattered the car windows of four voting rights activists and gouged the wall of a nearby home.

And a fire destroyed voter registration equipment and materials outside the city’s Voter Registration Headquarters, leaving the street strewn with rubble.

It was 1963 in Greenwood, Miss., a major battleground in the fight for civil rights, and white officials were playing down and ignoring a series of attacks intended to discourage thousands of African-Americans from registering to vote.

Claude Sitton, the renowned New York Times correspondent, shot photos and took meticulous notes, exposing the racial violence with his pen and with his lens.


Of all the stats about US prisons, Louisiana’s incarceration rate is among the most shocking. For every 100,000 residents, 868 are in state prison. That’s 0.86% of Louisiana’s population, or nearly 1 in 100 (the worst among all states).

This is what people must mean by mass incarceration.

Instead of debating drug reform or systemic police discrimination, we want to understand prison rates historically. Inspired by Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th, we began with the idea that the South’s approach to incarceration has its roots in slavery. Or more specifically, in the Jim Crow laws that targeted former slaves after the Civil War. These laws were eventually abolished, but we know that their legacy continues to the present day. Louisiana’s tragic incarceration rate is just one example among many.



Harriet Tubman fled a life of slavery in Maryland. Now a new visitor center opens on the land she escaped.
By Michael E. Ruane, March 4, 2017, The Washington Post

CHURCH CREEK, MD. — She preferred moving in the darkness of long winter nights.  She didn’t wait for late passengers: The “train” for Zion always left on time.  And she carried a pistol, in case of trouble or flagging hearts.

Her branch of the line began here, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, near places like Tobacco Stick, Kentuck Swamp, and Skeleton Creek, off the Choptank River, to the north.

She was small and the color of a chestnut, as her owner described her when she first ran away. But she was hardened by whippings and work on the timber gangs, and she knew the wilderness as well as a hunter.

On March 11, the National Park Service and the Maryland State Park Service plan to unveil a new visitor center here dedicated to the life and mission of abolitionist and legendary Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman.


By Jennifer Schuessler, March 5, 2017, The New York TimesCAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In 1976, archivists at Harvard’s natural history museum opened a drawer and discovered a haunting portrait of a shirtless enslaved man named Renty, gazing sorrowfully but steadily at the camera.  Taken on a South Carolina plantation in 1850, it had been used by the Harvard biologist Louis Agassiz to formulate his now-discredited ideas about racial difference.

On Friday, Harvard’s president, Drew Gilpin Faust, stood at a lectern under a projection of Renty’s face and began a rather different enterprise: a major public conference exploring the long-neglected connections between universities and slavery.

Harvard had been “directly complicit” in slavery, Ms. Faust acknowledged, before moving to a more present-minded statement of purpose.

“Only by coming to terms with history,” she said, “can we free ourselves to create a more just world.”


The gathering, which featured a keynote address by the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, (above) drew an overflow crowd of about 500, including researchers from more than 30 campuses.  Between sessions, there was plenty of chatter about grants and administration politics, as well as some wry amazement, as one scholar was overheard saying that “something we’ve been talking about for 200 years has suddenly become urgent.”


Black History Month: Oney Judge, owned by Pres. George Washington | IN THE NEWS

[February 10, 2017 by toritto] [ Our thanks to Frank for this]

“Advertisement,” The Philadelphia Gazette & Universal Daily Advertiser, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 24, 1796

“Absconded from the household of the President of the United States, ONEY JUDGE, a light mulatto girl, much freckled, with very black eyes and bushy hair. She is of middle stature, slender, and delicately formed, about 20 years of age.

She has many changes of good clothes, of all sorts, but they are not sufficiently recollected to be described—As there was no suspicion of her going off, nor no provocation to do so, it is not easy to conjecture whither she has gone, or fully, what her design is; but as she may attempt to escape by water, all masters of vessels are cautioned against admitting her into them, although it is probable she will attempt to pass for a free woman, and has, it is said, wherewithal to pay her passage.

Ten dollars will be paid to any person who will bring her home, if taken in the city, or on board any vessel in the harbour;—and a reasonable additional sum if apprehended at, and brought from a greater distance, and in proportion to the distance.     —FREDERICK KITT, Steward. May 23″

Oney “Ona” Judge was a mixed raced slave on George Washington’s plantation at Mount Vernon, Virginia. Born in 1773 at Mount Vernon, her mother.  Betty, was an enslaved seamstress; her father, Andrew Judge, was an English tailor working as an indentured servant at Mount Vernon.

Betty had been among the 285 African slaves held by Martha Washington’s first husband, Daniel Parke Custis (1711–1757).  Custis died without a will, so his widow received a “dower share” – the lifetime use of one third of his Estate, which included at least 85 enslaved Africans.  Martha had control over these “dower” slaves, but did not have the legal power to sell or free them.  Upon Martha’s marriage to George Washington in 1759, the dower slaves came with her to Mount Vernon, including Betty, Oney’s mother to be.

Under Virginia colonial law the legal status of a child was the same as that of the enslaved mother, no matter who the father was.  Because Betty was a dower slave, Oney also was a dower slave, owned by the Custis Estate.  Upon the completion of his indenture, Andrew Judge, her father settled in Alexandria, Virginia, some 11 miles away.

At about age 10, Oney was brought to live at the Mansion House at Mount Vernon, likely as a playmate for Martha Washington’s granddaughter Nelly Custis.  She eventually became the personal attendant or body servant to Martha Washington.

George Washington took Oney, then 16 years old to New York City along with six other slaves to work in the Presidential household.  All eventually moved to Philadelphia with Washington when the national capital was transferred there in 1790.

Now Pennsylvania was the first state to enact an emancipation law for all of its slaves.  In 1780 Pennsylvania required the registration of all slaves of its residents.  They would remain slaves but any of their children would be born free, resulting in gradual emancipation.  Non-residents, such as George Washington, a slaveholder from another state could reside in Pennsylvania with his personal slaves for up to six months, but if those slaves were held in Pennsylvania beyond that deadline, the law gave them the power to free themselves.

A 1788 amendment to the state law closed loopholes – such as prohibiting a Pennsylvania slaveholder from transporting a pregnant woman out of the state (so the child would be born enslaved) and prohibiting a non-resident slaveholder from rotating his slaves in and out of the state to prevent them from establishing the six-month Pennsylvania residency required to qualify for freedom.  This last point would affect the lives of Oney Judge and the other President’s house slaves.

Washington contended (privately) that his presence in Philadelphia was solely a consequence of the city’s being the temporary seat of the federal government.  He held that he remained a resident of Virginia, and should not be bound by Pennsylvania law regarding slavery.  Attorney General Edmund Randolph – misunderstood the Pennsylvania law and lost his personal slaves after they established a six-month residency and claimed their freedom.

Randolph immediately warned Washington to prevent the President’s House slaves from doing the same, advising him to interrupt their residency by sending them out of the state.  Such a rotation was a violation of the 1788 amendment, but Washington’s actions were not challenged. He continued to rotate the President’s House slaves in and out of Pennsylvania throughout his presidency.  He also was careful never to spend six continuous months in Pennsylvania himself, which could be interpreted as establishing legal residency.  At least once Martha Washington took Oney to Trenton New Jersey for two days to interrupt her six month residency in Pennsylvania.

Judge fled as the Washingtons were preparing to return to Virginia for a short trip between sessions of Congress.  Martha Washington had informed her that she was to be given as a wedding present to the First Lady’s granddaughter.   Judge recalled in an 1845 interview:

“Whilst they were packing up to go to Virginia, I was packing to go, I didn’t know where; for I knew that if I went back to Virginia, I should never get my liberty. I had friends among the colored people of Philadelphia, had my things carried there beforehand, and left Washington’s house while they were eating dinner.”

The President of the United States wanted his slave returned. Runaway advertisements in Philadelphia newspapers document Judge’s escape to freedom from the President’s House on May 21, 1796.

Oney was secretly placed aboard the Nancy, a ship piloted by Captain John Bowles and escaped to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  She may have thought she had found safe haven, but that summer she was recognized on the streets of Portsmouth by Elizabeth Langdon, the teenage daughter of N. H. Senator John Langdon and a friend of Nelly Custis.  Washington knew of Judge’s whereabouts by September 1, when he wrote to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., the Secretary of the Treasury, about having her captured and returned by ship.

At Wolcott’s request, Joseph Whipple, Portsmouth’s collector of customs, interviewed Judge and reported back to him.  The plan to capture her was abandoned after Whipple warned that news of an abduction could cause a riot on the docks by supporters of abolition.  Whipple refused to place Judge on a ship against her will, but relayed to Wolcott her offer to return voluntarily to the Washingtons if they would guarantee to free her following their deaths.

An indignant Washington responded himself to Whipple: “I regret that the attempt you made to restore the Girl (Oney Judge as she called herself while with us, and who, without the least provocation absconded from her Mistress) should have been attended with so little Success.  To enter into such a compromise with her, as she suggested to you, is totally inadmissible, for reasons that must strike at first view: for however well disposed I might be to a gradual abolition, or even to an entire emancipation of that description of People (if the latter was in itself practicable at this moment) it would neither be politic or just to reward unfaithfulness with a premature preference [of freedom]; and thereby discontent before hand the minds of all her fellow-servants who by their steady attachments are far more deserving than herself of favor.”

Washington retired from the presidency in March 1797.  His nephew, Burwell Bassett traveled to New Hampshire on business in September 1798, and tried to convince her to return.  By this point she was married to a seaman named Jack Staines (who was away at sea) and was the mother of an infant.  Bassett met with her, but she refused to return to Virginia with him. Bassett was Senator Langdon’s houseguest that night, and over dinner he revealed his plan to kidnap her.  This time Langdon helped Oney Judge Staines, secretly sending word for her to immediately go into hiding.  Bassett returned to Virginia without her.

Washington could have used the federal courts to recover Judge Staines — the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act (which he had signed into law) required a legal process to return an escaped slave over state lines.  Any court case, however, would have been part of the public record, and attracted unwelcome attention.

Interviews with Oney Judge Staines were published in the May 1845 issue of The Granite Freeman and the January 1847 issue of The Liberator, both abolitionist newspapers.  They contained a wealth of details about her life.  She described the Washingtons, their attempts to capture her, her opinions on slavery, her pride in having learned to read, and her strong religious faith.

When asked whether she was sorry that she left the Washingtons, since she labored so much harder after her escape than before, she said: “No, I am free, and have, I trust been made a child of God by the means.”

She remained a fugitive slave in New Hampshire all of her life.  When George Washington died, concerned with his reputation, he freed all of his slaves but he did not own the dower slaves belonging to his wife.  When Martha Washington died the dower slaves reverted to the Custis Estate and were awarded to other descendants of her family.

Oney Judge Staines was never freed but she escaped to New Hampshire and lived free.

Source: Oney Judge – For Black History Month | toritto


In the News

Frederick Douglass, Refugee
David Blight, Feb 7, 2017, The Atlantic

Frederick Douglass, author, orator, editor, and most important African American leader of the 19th century, was a dangerous illegal immigrant. Well, in 1838 he escaped a thoroughly legal system of enslavement to the tenuous condition of fugitive resident of a northern state that had outlawed slavery, but could only protect his “freedom” outside of the law.

Douglass’s life and work serve as a striking symbol of one of the first major refugee crises in our history. From the 1830s through the 1850s, the many thousands of runaway slaves, like Douglass, who escaped into the North, into Canada, or Mexico put enormous pressure on those places’ political systems. The presence and contested status of fugitive slaves polarized voters in elections; they were the primary subject of major legislation such as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 as well as Supreme Court decisions such as Dred Scott v. Sanford in 1857. They were at the heart of a politics of fear in the 1850s that led to disunion. Among the many legacies of Douglass’s life and writings alive today, one of the most potent is his role as an illegal migrant and very public abolitionist orator and journalist posing as a free black citizen in slaveholding America.



Yale Will Drop John Calhoun’s Name From Building
Noah Remnick, Feb. 11, 2017, The New York TimesAfter a swelling tide of protests, the president of Yale announced on Saturday that the university would change the name of a residential college commemorating John C. Calhoun, the 19th-century white supremacist statesman from South Carolina. The college will be renamed for Grace Murray Hopper, a trailblazing computer scientist and Navy rear admiral who received a master’s degree and a doctorate from Yale.The decision was a stark reversal of the university’s decision last spring to maintain the name despite broad opposition. Though the president, Peter Salovey, said that he was still “concerned about erasing history,” he said that “these are exceptional circumstances.”

“I made this decision because I think it is the right thing to do on principle,” Mr. Salovey said on a conference call with reporters. “John C. Calhoun’s principles, his legacy as an ardent supporter of slavery as a positive good, are at odds with this university.”



President Trump recently described Frederick Douglass as “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.” The president’s muddled tense – it came out sounding as if the 19th-century abolitionist were alive with a galloping Twitter following – provoked some mirth on social media. But the spotlight on one of America’s great moral heroes is a welcome one.

Douglass was born on a plantation in Eastern Maryland in 1817 or 1818 – he did not know his birthday, much less have a long-form birth certificate – to a black mother (from whom he was separated as a boy) and a white father (whom he never knew and who was likely the “master” of the house). He was parceled out to serve different members of the family. His childhood was marked by hunger and cold, and his teen years passed in one long stretch of hard labor, coma-like fatigue, routine floggings, hunger, and other commonplace tortures from the slavery handbook.

At 20, he ran away to New York and started his new life as an anti-slavery orator and activist. Acutely conscious of being a literary witness to the inhumane institution he had escaped, he made sure to document his life in not one but three autobiographies. His memoirs bring alive the immoral mechanics of slavery and its weapons of control. Chief among them: food.



#ThisIsNotNormal | When They Found Me I Wasn’t There | A Hateful Ideology | Only Light Can Do That | Identity politics of whiteness


“I teach poetry to incarcerated
Boys [ages 15-19]. They
Are sons // & fathers // & brothers // & lovers
& thieves [Just like me]
They want to learn
How to write
How to take the pain & make it beautiful.”

PHOTOS: From James Cohan, Trenton Doyle Hancock, When They Found Me I Wasn’t There, Version #2 (2016), Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 72 × 72 in

Source: Trenton Doyle Hancock | When They Found Me I Wasn’t There, Version #2 (2016) | Artsy



A Hateful Ideology:  In a short new documentary, The Atlantic captures the white nationalism and anti-Semitism of the alt-right movement and its leader, Richard Spencer, during a recent conference in Washington, D.C. (You probably saw our viral video of Spencer receiving Nazi salutes to his cry of “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”) Why cover such an ugly worldview? One possible answer is that acknowledging hateful beliefs makes it much more possible to fight them—especially when such beliefs may be more widespread than many people think.


Only Light Can Do That

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On November 9th, 2016 we woke up to sexism, racism, bigotry, and hate. We woke up a divided country.

While some of us woke up with a bitter taste on our tongues, in denial, and scared — others woke up safe, with a newfound sense of hope in our country, and a determination to “Make America Great Again.” Others woke up to a call to action. Continue reading


ONLY LIGHT CAN DO THAT copies are $15.00 and benefit The Rattling Wall, PEN Center USA, and free expression/literary arts projects. ONLY LIGHT CAN DO THAT can be purchased online at penusa.org.


‘White’ is a category that has afforded people an evasion from race, rather than an opportunity to confront it.

The identity politics of whiteness.

“Identity” is a vexing word.  It is racial or sexual or national or religious or all those things at once. Sometimes it is proudly claimed, other times hidden or denied. But the word is almost never applied to whiteness. Racial identity is taken to be exclusive to people of color: When we speak about race, it is in connection with African-Americans or Latinos or Asians or Native People or some other group that has been designated a minority. “White” is seen as the default, the absence of race.  In school curriculums, one month is reserved for the study of black history, while the rest of the year is just plain history; people will tell you they are fans of black or Latin music, but few will claim they love white music.

This year’s election has disturbed that silence.


In the News

Cape Town slave descendants share stories of strength
Peter Lykke Lind, 9 December 2016, AljazeeraCape Town, South Africa – When Ruben November’s great-great grandfather Zyzer arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, at the beginning of the 19th century, like many other slaves, he was stripped of everything – his clothes, his papers, his identity.He was given a new name: Zyzer November. November indicated the month of his arrival. All other slaves were named in a similar manner.

The name was passed down through the generations to Ruben, one of the 12 faces portrayed in a calendar and exhibition currently showing at the Izikio Slave Lodge Museum, in Cape Town, “My Naam is Februarie: Identities Rooted in Slavery”.



Why We Need a National Monument to Reconstruction
Gregory P. Downs, Eric Foner and Kate Masur, December 14, 2016, The New York Times

Although Americans are already looking ahead to the next presidential administration, President Obama retains the power to shape his legacy and our nation in his remaining weeks in office. He has already used his final months to create several national monuments, and we urge him to create another, one that will speak as much to the nation’s present and future as it does to its past: the first national monument dedicated to Reconstruction — the turbulent, misunderstood era after the Civil War — in Beaufort, S.C., which has one of the country’s highest concentrations of Reconstruction-related sites.

Work on the monument is already underway. Community leaders in Beaufort have submitted a formal request to the National Park Service for a monument that encompasses key sites of emancipation and postwar community-building. In May, two South Carolina representatives — James Clyburn, a Democrat, and Mark Sanford, a Republican — sponsored a resolution to establish a national monument to the Reconstruction era. And last month, a group of 17 historians who have been helping the National Park Service study Reconstruction, as well as the American Historical Association and other professional historical groups, endorsed this effort.



‘We can’t have a situation where Flint is always next’: How one Democrat got a GOP Congress to help his home town
Mike DeBonis December 13, 2016, The Washington Post

The 114th Congress wrapped up its work in the wee hours Saturday morning after a partisan clash briefly raised fears of a government shutdown. Most stories reported that Democrats lost their bid to preserve health benefits for coal miners and a requirement for American-made steel in federal water projects. But they secured a victory that didn’t make headlines but represented the culmination of more than a year’s work: At least $170 million in aid for the beleaguered city of Flint, Mich.

Flint’s drinking water has been largely undrinkable after a 2014 cost-cutting decision to switch water sources caused lead to leach out of supply pipes. Since then, the Michigan congressional delegation — led by Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters and Rep. Daniel Kildee, all Democrats — have pushed the federal government to step up and help a poor, majority-black American city in crisis.


Some Things Will Not Change

Everything is different now, but some things will never change.

Source: Some Things Will Not Change




In the News

‘Scarlet and Black: Slavery and Dispossession in Rutgers History’ Brings University’s Untold Story Out of the Shadows
Andrea Alexander, Friday, November 18, 2016, Rutgers Today

Rutgers University released the findings of eight months of research that reveal an untold history of some of the institution’s founders as slave owners and the displacement of the Native Americans who once occupied land that was later transferred to the college.

The work, contained in the book Scarlet and Black, Volume 1: Slavery and Dispossession in Rutgers History, brings out of the shadows the story of Will, a slave who laid the foundation of Old Queens. The research, which spans the mid-18th through mid-19th centuries, also reveals that abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth and her parents were owned by the family of Rutgers’ first president Jacob Hardenbergh.

The project was the result of an initiative by Rutgers University-New Brunswick Chancellor Richard L. Edwards. In the fall of 2015, Edwards appointed the Committee on Enslaved and Disenfranchised Populations in Rutgers History, which grew out of a meeting with a group of students concerned about improving the racial and cultural climate on campus.



Charlotte weighs protecting historic black cemetery founded in 1873
Mark Price, November 19, 2016, The Charlotte Observer

Whether Charlotte should protect one of the oldest African-American cemeteries of the post-slavery era is up for a vote Monday night before Charlotte City Council.

The Biddleville Cemetery, founded in 1873, is one of three properties nominated for protection by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. The other two include a west coast “Airplane Bungalow” built in 1925 on Park Road in Dilworth, and Midwood Elementary School, built in 1935 to serve the “streetcar suburbs” of Charlotte.

Stewart Gray of the Historic Landmarks Commission says none of the three sites is currently in danger from Charlotte’s booming development push. Historic designation at this point is a precaution, he says.

Gray doesn’t expect any opposition among council members, particularly in the case of Biddleville Cemetery.

Protecting the nation’s once-ignored African-American cultural and historical sites has become a national priority. The recently opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington is part of the trend, which has also touched Charlotte. Last year, the city’s Trail of History erected its first statue of an African-American who is credited with contributing to local history: businessman Thaddeus Lincoln Tate.


Asian Americans in Movies | Suicide | World Nomad Games



Asian-American women ages 18 to 24 have the nation’s second-highest suicide rate among women in this age group, Boston University researcher Hyeouk Chris Hahm said; in that segment of the population, only Native American women’s rate is higher. (Her research is based on NIH 2012 data; 2014 numbers from the Centers for Disease Control place Asian-American women ages 15-24 third, after Native American and white women.)





A civil rights fighter compares BLM movement to the 1960’s struggle | Memphis Massacre | In The News

SAVANNAH (WSAV) – Former Savannah Mayor, Edna Jackson, sits down with WSAV’s Martin Staunton to talk about the similarities and differences between the push for civil rights in the 1960’s and the Black Lives Matter movement of today.

Jackson was among thousands of young African Americans in Savannah in the 1960’s who participated in many protests, sit-ins, wade-ins, and rallies, to dismantle segregation in the Hostess City.

Watch the video to see the interview.



“The Civil Rights Act of 1964: How Far Have We Come?” was on view in the rotunda and on the fourth floor of McWherter Library in 2014. Free and open to the public.

Presented with the support of Friends of the University Libraries.  For additional resources, please visit our online research guide at  http://libguides.memphis.edu/civilrightsact1964.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964: How Far Have We Come?” Reflection Project

We encourage you to reflect on the failures and triumphs of the tireless struggle for civil rights in the mid-20th century. How far have we come?


In the News

a new monument and museum in Montgomery, Alabama
New Museum opened this week in DC

The Definitive Story of How the National Museum of African American History and Culture Came to Be
Lonnie Bunch
Smithsonian Magazine, September 2016

In July 2005, I began this great adventure by driving from Chicago to Washington, D.C. to take a new job. The trip gave me plenty of time to ponder whether I’d made the right decision. After all, I loved Chicago, my home in Oak Park and my job as president of the Chicago Historical Society. But it was too late to turn back. I had agreed to become the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture—an opportunity, and an obligation to my community, that far outweighed my reservations.


Inside the Upcoming Memorial and Museum Dedicated to Lynching Victims

Danny Lewis
smithsonian.com, August 24, 2016

The iconography of slavery and segregation can be found nearly everywhere in the United States, be it statues dedicated to prominent slave owners from history or government buildings built by slaves. But soon, a new monument and museum in Montgomery, Alabama, will directly confront some of the worst atrocities committed in American history by memorializing the thousands of black people who were lynched in the U.S.



Closer to home, we’re grappling with a national US election that has seen many white supremacist forces emerge into the mainstream, helped by media companies that parrot extreme opinions as fact. Culturally the repercussions are everywhere, from the careless attitude towards Native American heritage in North Dakota (which is a direct legacy of white supremacy) to the dismissal of Native American and Hispanic student opinions in New Mexico.   READ






In the News: Wall St. Prince of Darkness, Panama Papers

Shane White discusses his new book at the Gotham Center for New York History


Prince of Darkness:
​The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street’s First Black Millionaire

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016 | Skylight Room​

Shane White reveals the larger-than-life story of a man who defied every convention of his time, Jeremiah Hamilton.  He wheeled and dealed in the lily-white business world, he married a white woman, he bought a mansion in rural New Jersey, he owned railroad stock on trains he was not legally allowed to ride, and generally set his white contemporaries teeth on edge when he wasn’t just plain outsmarting them.  An important contribution to American history, Hamilton’s life offers a way into considering, from the unusual perspective of a black man, subjects that are usually seen as being quintessentially white, totally segregated from the African American past.

All events are free and open to the public, and take place from 6:30 to 8 pm at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue, between 34th & 35th Street. Seating, as always, is “first come, first served.”  Books will be available for purchase and signing. For more information, call (212) 817 8471.

More information: http://www.gothamcenter.org/events.html


The Panama Papers –> A massive trove of documents leaked this weekend from a Panamanian law firm connects more than 70 current and former world leaders to offshore tax havens used to secretly hoard billions.  Vladimir Putin plays a central role, reports Luke Harding for The Guardian: “Though the president’s name does not appear in any of the records, the data reveals a pattern – his friends have earned millions from deals that seemingly could not have been secured without his patronage.  The documents suggest Putin’s family has benefited from this money – his friends’ fortunes appear his to spend.  The files are part of an unprecedented leak of millions of papers from the database of Mossack Fonseca, the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm.  They show how the rich and powerful are able to exploit secret offshore tax regimes in myriad ways.”

++How Mossack Fonseca helped hide millions from Britain’s biggest gold bullion robbery


A memorial to Rebecca Mitchell, a woman born into slavery, at Evergreen Cemetery in Richmond, Va. Credit Brian Palmer

Why Slaves’ Graves Matter

By SANDRA A. ARNOLD | New York Times | APRIL 2, 2016

I GREW up in a small rural town in West Tennessee. My family is rooted in that region, where my ancestors were once enslaved. In the 1970s, when I was a teenager, we regularly attended an old country church that was located in the curve of a gravel road and surrounded by undeveloped Southern land. The church had rustic wooden floors, handmade pews and a piano that was often missing an accompanist. The congregation didn’t mind though; they made their own music, tapping the pews and the floor as they sang.

A short distance away, at the dead end of a dirt path, was the church’s cemetery. According to local oral history, it was established sometime during the 1840s. Most of its burials had headstones with names, dates and sometimes epitaphs. However, the cemetery also contained an area with graves marked only by plain rocks of various sizes. I would eventually discover that the rocks marked the graves of people who had lived and died in the community over the years, including those who had been enslaved.

 Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/03/opinion/sunday/why-slaves-graves-matter.html

Recognizing Slavery at Harvard

By Drew G. Faust | The Harvard Crimson

I write today about history, about legacies, and about our responsibility to our past and our future. On the morning of April 6, I, joined by Congressman John Lewis, will install a plaque on Wadsworth House in memory of four enslaved persons who lived and worked there during the 18th century in the households of two Harvard presidents. I have also convened a committee of historians from our faculty to advise me about other sites on campus that should be similarly recognized as significant symbols of Harvard’s connections to slavery. Next March, with support from the Office of the President, the Radcliffe Institute will host a major conference on universities and slavery, offering a broader exploration of the complexities of our past.

Listen at: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2016/3/30/faust-harvard-slavery/


White People Have No Place In Black Liberation

There is no answer to the question of what white people can do for Black liberation, but racism veils reality so easily and efficiently.  It is anti-reality. It makes the impossible seem not only possible, but a worthwhile endeavor.  It truly does keep you, as Toni Morrison said, “from doing your work.  It keeps you explaining, over and over again.”

The dilemma of what white people should do to address racism has the same exhausting function of racism, because this dilemma is racism.  Because for white people “to do” anything means that whiteness must be centered in a way that would perpetuate its oppressive essentiality.

Indeed, there would be no white race, no “race” as we know it, if whiteness weren’t positioned in violent dominion.  That is the only thing it can do.  Whiteness cannot operate in any way that does not first perpetuate white supremacy.


In the News: America’s Other Original Sin


Calhoun portraits removed

David Yaffe-Bellany | January 25, 2016| Yale Daily News

The students eating breakfast in the Calhoun College dining hall on Friday morning were not gathered there to witness the removal of a widely loathed work of 19th-century portraiture. They were focused more on oatmeal and coffee than on the vexed history of race at Yale.

But at about 10:50 a.m., Calhoun Master Julia Adams entered the dining hall, trailed by two men with a ladder and some bubble wrap, art technicians trained to haul priceless paintings from place to place. They had come to take down the glowering portrait of outspoken slavery advocate John C. Calhoun (photo) that had hung on the back wall since the 1930s.

Read more: http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2016/01/25/calhoun-portraits-removed/


 America’s Other Original Sin

Europeans didn’t just displace Native Americans—they enslaved them, and encouraged tribes to participate in the slave trade, on a scale historians are only beginning to fathom.

By Rebecca Onion | Slate | January 18, 2016

Between 1670 and 1715, more Indians were exported into slavery through Charles Town than Africans were imported.

Here are three scenes from the history of slavery in North America. In 1637, a group of Pequot Indians, men and boys, having risen up against English colonists in Connecticut and been defeated, were sold to plantations in the West Indies in exchange for African slaves, allowing the colonists to remove a resistant element from their midst. (The tribe’s women were pressed into service in white homes in New England, where domestic workers were sorely lacking.) In 1741, an 800-foot-long coffle of recently enslaved Sioux Indians, procured by a group of Cree, Assiniboine, and Monsoni warriors, arrived in Montreal, ready for sale to French colonists hungry for domestic and agricultural labor.  And in 1837, Cherokee Joseph Vann, expelled from his land in Georgia during the era of Indian removal, took at least 48 enslaved black people along with him to Indian Territory.  By the 1840s, Vann was said to have owned hundreds of enslaved black laborers, as well as racehorses and a side-wheeler steamboat.

A reductive view of the American past might note two major, centuries-long historical sins: the enslavement of stolen Africans and the displacement of Native Americans.  In recent years, a new wave of historians of American slavery has been directing attention to the ways these sins overlapped.  The stories they have uncovered throw African slavery—still the narrative that dominates our national memory—into a different light, revealing that the seeds of that system were sown in earlier attempts to exploit Native labor.  The record of Native enslavement also shows how the white desire to put workers in bondage intensified the chaos of contact, disrupting intertribal politics and creating uncertainty and instability among people already struggling to adapt to a radically new balance of power.  (TOP PHOTO)

Read more: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/cover_story/2016/01/native_american_slavery_historians_uncover_a_chilling_chapter_in_u_s_history.single.html


NEW REPORT: Not to be trusted

ColorOfChange’s new report, NOT TO BE TRUSTED: Dangerous Levels of Inaccuracy in TV Crime Reporting in NYC, reveals a shocking pattern; every major network affiliate in New York City — WABC, WNBC, WCBS, and WNYW/FOX5 — is disproportionately focusing their crime reporting on Black suspects, and inaccurately exaggerating the proportion of Black people involved in crime.

This dangerous crime coverage puts Black communities at great risk by feeding the ugly stereotypes that shape the implicit or explicit biases of their audiences, leading to discriminatory hiring practices, biased treatment in courtrooms, and the kinds of brutal treatment by police that took the lives of unarmed Black people like Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Akai Gurley.

Share this graphic and help us spread the word about these dangerous reporting practices. 

What We Do

Using the Internet, we (COLOR OF CHANGE) enable our members to speak in unison, with an amplified political voice. We keep them informed about the most pressing issues for Black people in America and give them ways to act. We lobby elected representatives using email, the telephone, and face-to-face meetings.

We bring attention to the needs and concerns of Black folks by holding coordinated events in different parts of the country, running TV and print advertisements, and demanding that the news media cover our issues. We also work with other groups – online efforts and other organizations that are doing related work – to magnify our impact.

When we come together and speak with one voice, we cannot be ignored.

VISIT Color of Change


NBC is about to turn Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric into a laughing matter by allowing him to host Saturday Night Live.

HvTrump’s racism and fear-mongering are nothing to laugh at and have real impacts for people of color. Tell NBC and SNL: Cancel Donald Trump’s appearance on Saturday Night Live

Tell NBC and SNL: Stop promoting hate. Cancel Donald Trump’s appearance on Saturday Night Live.


In the News

Retracing Slavery’s Trail of Tears: America’s forgotten migration – the journeys of a million African-Americans from the tobacco South to the cotton South

A coffle of slaves being marched from Virginia west into Tennessee, c. 1850. (Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Virginia)
Smithsonian Magazine | November 2015

When Delores McQuinn was growing up, her father told her a story about a search for the family’s roots.

Read: HERE


Slavery’s long legacy in a corner of Ohio: The ‘Gist Settlement’ for freed slaves leads to a legal fight 200 years later

October 25, 2015 |  Al Jazeera America |

GIST SETTLEMENT, Ohio — Paul Turner, even at age 84, still walks with the razor-straight military bearing ingrained from his time in the navy. His speech is peppered with polite sirs.

“But my knees aren’t as good as they once were,” Turner explained as he strolled haltingly through shoulder-high goldenrod surrounding the century-old farmstead where he was born.

“When I was a kid, there were 17 houses here,” Turner said, pointing to the fields. But part the tall weeds and one will find only the crumbling remains of old homes, homes that once formed the Gist Settlement and housed the descendants of what was the largest slave emancipation of its time.

Now, Turner is struggling to save the settlement for posterity.

“I want to get this straightened out before I leave this Earth,” Turner said.

Read more: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/10/25/legacy-slavery-corner-ohio.html


Slavery Did Not Die Honestly

A century and a half after the Civil War, the process of Reconstruction remains contested—and incomplete.

David W. Blight |  The Atlantic | Oct 21, 2015

The Reconstruction era was both the cause and the product of revolutions, some of which have never ended, and likely never will.  Lest this seem a despairing view of U.S. history, Americans need to remember that remaking, revival, and regeneration have almost always characterized the U.S., its society, and its political culture.  But no set of problems has ever challenged the American political and moral imagination—even the Great Depression and the World Wars—quite like that of the end of the Civil War and the process of Reconstruction.

Reconstruction, traditionally defined as spanning the years 1863-1877, was one long referendum on the meaning and memory of the war and the verdict at Appomattox.  The great challenge of Reconstruction was to determine how a national blood feud (approximately 750,000 deaths) could be reconciled at the same time a new nation emerged out of war and social revolution.  The survivors on both sides—winners and losers in the fullest sense—would still inhabit the same land and eventually the same government.  The task was harrowing: how to make sectional reconciliation compatible with emancipation, and how to square black freedom and the stirrings of racial equality with a cause (the South’s) that had lost almost everything except its unbroken belief in white supremacy.  This would be a “testing” of even more magnitude than the one Abraham Lincoln described in his Gettysburg Address.

Read more: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/10/slavery-did-not-die-honestly/411487/

%d bloggers like this: