Clyde Ensslin Explores Thomas Jefferson’s Secret, Unflattering History in his Fringe Debut

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, United States on 2017-07-21 18:09Z by Steven

Clyde Ensslin Explores Thomas Jefferson’s Secret, Unflattering History in his Fringe Debut

Washington City Paper

Caroline Jones, City Lights Editor

Clyde Ensslin (Darrow Montgomery)

Clyde Ensslin’s journey to the Capital Fringe Festival began, of all places, in an Uber. Ensslin has driven for the rideshare company since 2014, and one night in the fall of that year he received a message to pick up a passenger at the bar Showtime in Bloomingdale. That passenger turned out to be Capital Fringe CEO Julianne Brienza.

As they rode, she told him she’d just closed on Fringe’s new headquarters on Florida Avenue NE. When Ensslin revealed he had never heard of the arts festival, Brienza gave him a crash course in the world of Fringe, from its roots in Edinburgh to her plans to build Trinidad into an arts district. “She just kind of blew me away,” he says of his first impression. She encouraged him to see shows when the festival returned in the summer. He bought an eight-pack of tickets.

“At the time, I did not think this was anything I’d want to do,” he says now. But after seeing pieces he loved, like Cara Gabriel’s I Am the Gentry, he bought another eight-pack the following year. By the end of the 2016 festival, he was hooked. At the same time, Ensslin’s passengers were regularly telling him how much he sounds like former president Bill Clinton, so he started thinking about constructing a play that would coincide with the 20th anniversary of the 42nd president’s impropriety and subsequent impeachment

…Early on in the process, he discussed his plans with Ibe Crawley, the operator of IBe’ Arts, a small gallery in Historic Anacostia, who pushed him to not focus directly on Bill and Monica and instead tell the story of another lecherous commander-in-chief: Thomas Jefferson. The resulting play, a monologue called Thomas Jefferson: Hoochie-Coochie Man, is presented as a college lecture, taught by professor William Jefferson Clinton, that breaks down the relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemings and the ways that story has evolved over time.

To begin his research, Ensslin consulted the authoritative text on the subject, historian Annette Gordon-Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family. Gordon-Reed tells the stories of multiple generations of the Hemings family, who became Jefferson’s property when he inherited them from his father-in-law. She chronicles the hard labor they did on his plantation and follows members of the family after they were freed upon Jefferson’s death. After hearing her speak at the 2016 National Book Festival, Ensslin dove deeper into the historiographical archives, reading Christopher Hitchens’ Thomas Jefferson: Author of America and titles by Michelle Alexander, Michael Eric Dyson, and Eddie S. Glaude Jr. as he tried to understand the paradox that Jefferson occupies in American history.

Ensslin’s show arrives at a time of renewed interest in Jeffersonian scholarship. After DNA evidence conclusively proved Jefferson fathered a child with Sally Hemings, historians and curators were forced to deal with that aspect of Jefferson’s life for the first time. A large donation from philanthropist David Rubenstein in 2013 allowed curators at Monticello, Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville, Virginia, to build replicas of the cabins slaves lived in on the plantation. Visitors can now go on tours that specifically highlight the experiences of slaves and the Hemings family. But even Hamilton, every woke theater nerd’s guide to early American history, paints Jefferson as a politically savvy bon vivant, only mentioning Sally in a winking reference for history buffs…

Read the entire article here.

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NBCBLK Summer Book Club: ‘New People’ by Danzy Senna

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2017-07-19 22:37Z by Steven

NBCBLK Summer Book Club: ‘New People’ by Danzy Senna

NBC News

Donna Owens

Danzy Senna (Mara Casey)

By Danzy Senna
229 pp. Riverhead Books, $26

The literati have always loved Danzy Senna.

In 1998, the biracial Boston native dazzled literary circles with her debut novel, `Caucasia.’ The coming of age tale—which tackled race, class and gender before terms like `intersectionality’ entered the mainstream lexicon—nabbed awards, and was hailed an instant classic.

Senna’s follow-up novel, `Symptomatic,’ (2001) further explored mixed-race characters. Her memoir, `Where Did You Sleep Last Night?: A Personal History,’ (2009) and story collection, `You Are Free,’ (2011) continued probing identity politics.

Now the scribe is back with her anticipated third novel,`New People.’ As with Senna’s previous work, it mines the complex themes of race, sex, and class. The tale unfolds through the adventures of Maria, a hip Brooklynite whose enviable lifestyle unravels behind her obsession with a man she barely knows…

You’re biracial—White mom and African American father — and your writing delves frequently into race. Is it a painful topic for you?

So for me, I’m not so much writing about race as I am writing about America. And to me, the American story is one of race, money and class. We do live in a racialized world, and I’ve spent my whole life in this space. I find it strange when writers don’t address it. I’m almost always assumed to be white. I’ve been privy to a lot of racism and conversations in rooms where I unintentionally disappeared into whiteness. I think there were periods when it was a struggle. But I’m at a place in my life when I’m very clear on who I am, my own story and who I come from…

Read the entire interview and book excerpt here.

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Uncompromising Activist: Richard Greener, First Black Graduate of Harvard College

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2017-07-19 03:49Z by Steven

Uncompromising Activist: Richard Greener, First Black Graduate of Harvard College

Johns Hopkins University Press
September 2017
216 pages
7 b&w photos
Hardback ISBN: 9781421423296
E-book ISBN: 9781421423302

Katherine Reynolds Chaddock, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Education
University of South Carolina

Richard Theodore Greener (1844–1922) was a renowned black activist and scholar. In 1870, he was the first black graduate of Harvard College. During Reconstruction, he was the first black faculty member at a southern white college, the University of South Carolina. He was even the first black US diplomat to a white country, serving in Vladivostok, Russia. A notable speaker and writer for racial equality, he also served as a dean of the Howard University School of Law and as the administrative head of the Ulysses S. Grant Monument Association. Yet he died in obscurity, his name barely remembered.

His black friends and colleagues often looked askance at the light-skinned Greener’s ease among whites and sometimes wrongfully accused him of trying to “pass.” While he was overseas on a diplomatic mission, Greener’s wife and five children stayed in New York City, changed their names, and vanished into white society. Greener never saw them again. At a time when Americans viewed themselves simply as either white or not, Greener lost not only his family but also his sense of clarity about race.

Richard Greener’s story demonstrates the human realities of racial politics throughout the fight for abolition, the struggle for equal rights, and the backslide into legal segregation. Katherine Reynolds Chaddock has written a long overdue narrative biography about a man, fascinating in his own right, who also exemplified America’s discomfiting perspectives on race and skin color. Uncompromising Activist is a lively tale that will interest anyone curious about the human elements of the equal rights struggle.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: A Search for Identity
  • 1. Boyhood Interrupted
  • 2. Being Prepared
  • 3. Experiment at Harvard
  • 4. An Accidental Academic
  • 5. Professing in a Small and Angry Place
  • 6. The Brutal Retreat
  • 7. Unsettled Advocate
  • 8. A Violent Attack and Hopeless Case
  • 9. Monumental Plans
  • 10. Off White
  • 11. Our Man in Vladivostok
  • 12. Closure in Black and White
  • Epilogue: The Passing of Richard Greener
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Dr. Zebulon Miletsky talks about the mixed race / mixed culture experience to BWTM

Posted in Barack Obama, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States, Videos on 2017-07-19 03:31Z by Steven

Dr. Zebulon Miletsky talks about the mixed race / mixed culture experience to BWTM

Bayloric Worldwide Television & Media

Ingram Jones, Host

Dr Zebulon Miletsky assistant professor of Africana Studies at Stony University, New York talks to BWTM  about his experiences and shares a wealth of knowledge on the topic of race.

Dr. Zebulon Vance Miletsky teaches African-American History at Stony Brook University where he is an Assistant Professor in both the Departments of Africana Studies and History. He is the author of numerous articles, essays and most recently a book chapter that appeared in the anthology “Obama and the Biracial Factor: The Battle for a New American Majority” which traces the contested meanings throughout history of terminology for multiracial people and the role that this historical legacy of “naming” plays into how President Obama is read as African American, but still asserts a strategic biracial identity through the use of language, symbols, and interactions with the media. Miletsky who is half-Jewish (white) and African-American/Afro-Caribbean, received his Ph.D. in African-American Studies with a concentration in History at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2008 . There, he was trained as a historian by some of the best thinkers in the field of Black Studies, many of whom are veterans from the Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the 1960s and 70s. His research interests include: Racial passing; interracial marriage; African-Americans in Boston; Northern freedom movements; and Mixed race history. Miletsky has given a Ted Talk and at Stony Brook University entitled “Tracing Your ‘Routes’” and has have been interviewed on Huffington Post Live, various radio shows including the WBAI NYC 99.5 FM Pacifica radio show “Behind the News-Long Island” and the “Multiracial Family Man” Podcast.

Watch the interview (01:26:47) here.

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Slavery and Freedom in Texas: Stories from the Courtroom, 1821–1871

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Law, Monographs, Slavery, Texas, United States on 2017-07-19 03:22Z by Steven

Slavery and Freedom in Texas: Stories from the Courtroom, 1821–1871

University of Georgia Press
258 pages
2 b&w photos, 8 maps
Trim size: 6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8203-5133-9
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8203-5163-6

Jason A. Gillmer, John J. Hemmingson Chair in Civil Liberties and Professor of Law
Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington

Riveting trials that exposed conflicting attitudes toward race and liberty

In these absorbing accounts of five court cases, Jason A. Gillmer offers intimate glimpses into Texas society in the time of slavery. Each story unfolds along boundaries—between men and women, slave and free, black and white, rich and poor, old and young—as rigid social orders are upset in ways that drive people into the courtroom.

One case involves a settler in a rural county along the Colorado River, his thirty-year relationship with an enslaved woman, and the claims of their children as heirs. A case in East Texas arose after an owner refused to pay an overseer who had shot one of her slaves. Another case details how a free family of color carved out a life in the sparsely populated marshland of Southeast Texas, only to lose it all as waves of new settlers “civilized” the county. An enslaved woman in Galveston who was set free in her owner’s will—and who got an uncommon level of support from her attorneys—is the subject of another case. In a Central Texas community, as another case recounts, citizens forced a Choctaw native into court in an effort to gain freedom for his slave, a woman who easily “passed” as white.

The cases considered here include Gaines v. Thomas, Clark v. Honey, Brady v. Price, State v. Ashworth, and Webster v. Heard. All of them pitted communal attitudes and values against the exigencies of daily life in an often harsh place. Here are real people in their own words, as gathered from trial records, various legal documents, and many other sources. People of many colors, from diverse backgrounds, weave their way in and out of the narratives. We come to know what mattered most to them—and where those personal concerns stood before the law.

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Got something to say about race and kids?

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2017-07-19 02:58Z by Steven

Got something to say about race and kids?


Andrew Grant-Thomas, Co-Founder

Let’s have it.

What do these pieces have in common?

“But Daddy, I’m a scientist, too!”

Why are all the white dolls sitting together on the Target shelf?

Muslim in Trump’s America

Read the entire article here.

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‘Krazy Kat,’ and all that jazz

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-07-19 02:50Z by Steven

‘Krazy Kat,’ and all that jazz

The Boston Globe

Matthew Guerrieri, Globe Correspondent

This Sunday is the anniversary of the end of one of the greatest comic strips of all time. On June 25, 1944, the final installment of “Krazy Kat” was published, two months after the death of its creator, George Herriman. In various forms since 1910, the strip’s essential paradox — Ignatz, a mouse, forever beans Krazy with bricks, who nevertheless loves him back — yielded seemingly inexhaustible variations.

In its day, “Krazy Kat” was more a critical than a popular favorite, though publisher William Randolph Hearst, a fan, continued to give Herriman carte blanche despite the strip’s sometimes meager readership. But its dreamlike artwork, linguistic fantasy, and self-referential tinkering with comic-strip form influenced numerous other art forms — music included.

The dense, idiosyncratic argot of Herriman’s dialogue and his precisely-dashed linework and zig-zagging scenery (a stylization of Herriman’s beloved southwestern landscapes) found its musical counterpart in syncopation. As early as 1911 — only a year after Krazy and Ignatz first appeared in the margins of Herriman’s strip “The Dingbat Family” — a New York composer-pianist named Ben Ritchie published “Krazy Kat Rag,” with a Herriman illustration on the cover. In later years, saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer’s Orchestra (which included such jazz luminaries as Bix Beiderbecke, Eddie Lang, and Joe Venuti), expatriate bandleader Sam Wooding, and clarinetist Artie Shaw all recorded “Krazy Kat” tributes.

Most ambitious was composer John Alden Carpenter’s “Krazy Kat” ballet, subtitled “A Jazz Pantomime.” First performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1921, and first staged in 1922 — choreographed by Russian-born Adolph Bolm, with scenery designed by Herriman himself (he also illustrated the sheet music) — the ballet was well-received, but Carpenter’s score (possibly the first concert work to include the word “jazz” in the title) was soon overshadowed by more overt rapprochements between jazz and classical music. Carpenter’s version of jazz was tame, owing more to the “sweet” jazz of white dance bands than the “hot” jazz of their African-American counterparts. But the composer effectively mined jazz’s capacity for charm and whimsy…

Read the entire article here.

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CFA: Special Issue of The History of the Family – Mixed Marriage, Interracial Relationships, and Binational Couples from Global and Comparative Perspectives

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, Family/Parenting, History, Social Science, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2017-07-19 02:20Z by Steven

CFA: Special Issue of The History of the Family – Mixed Marriage, Interracial Relationships, and Binational Couples from Global and Comparative Perspectives


Call for papers to special issue in The History of the Family: An International Quarterly

Special issue theme: Mixed Marriage, Interracial Relationships and Binational Couples from Global and Comparative Perspectives


Julia Moses
University of Sheffield/University of Gottingen

Julia Woesthoff
DePaul University

Call for Article Proposals

In response to the mass globalization of the twenty-first century and associated migration, a recent boom in social-scientific research has analyzed various manifestations of binational and interracial romantic relationships in the present and recent past. This theme issue seeks to historicize this research by drawing on key case studies from across the world and across time and drawing on relevant historiography and theoretical literature. This call for proposals welcomes both quantitative and qualitative studies that shed light on individual experiences of, as well as various practices of regulating, ‘interracial’, ‘binational’ and ‘mixed marriages’. The issue aims to parse the assumptions behind these contested concepts and to trace how these categories have shifted over time and space. In doing so, it also seeks to chart how intermarriages and other forms of interracial, binational and cross-confessional relationships took shape: who participated in these relationships? How common were they, and in which circumstances were they practiced (or banned)? Contributions investigating relationships involving regions in the Americas, Africa and Asia are particularly welcome.

The papers in this issue chart these relationships over various periods of time. Some papers will focus on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This era was a flashpoint for considerations about the relationship between race, culture and family formation. It was during the contested ‘first age of globalization’ at the turn of the twentieth century that new cultural encounters took form, forged through the expansion of European empires, a spike in global economic migration facilitated by new transportation technologies and the rise of mass communication through daily newspapers and the telegraph. At the same time, the growth of anthropology and related social sciences as disciplines contributed to the problematization of race, culture and cultural difference. These encounters came to a head in the First and Second World Wars, which witnessed a new era of nationalism across the world alongside a call to return to the home and family as a safeguard against the uncertainties of a world at war and faced by severe economic fluctuations. How were the perception and practice of intermarriage and other forms of cross-cultural romantic relationships affected by these historical developments? Other papers will focus on earlier periods, including moments of religious reformation and counterreformation as well as various early experiments in trade and imperialism. How did early colonial and commercial encounters shape attitudes towards interracial relationships? How have changing religious conflicts shaped attitudes towards intermarriage across confessional lines?

Ultimately, the theme issue will build on a selection of papers from a panel organized by the co-editors that will take place at the upcoming European Social Science History Conference (Belfast, 2018). Proposals that complement the themes and regions presented in the panel are particularly welcome, and those participating in the theme issue are also very welcome to come along to the ESSHC to join in the discussions there and help shape this joint venture.

Deadline for proposing articles (max 500 word abstracts only): Friday, 29 September 2017 (by e-mail to: and

The acceptance of abstracts will be announced to authors in early December 2017. The proposals selected are to be submitted initially as extended abstracts or working draft papers before Friday, 23 March 2018 so they can be considered together with the papers that will be presented at the ESSHC. Complete drafts (max 10,000 words) should be submitted by Friday, 20 July 2018 to the guest editors. After internal editing and revision by the author, the papers will be sent out for external peer-review via the journal. Please note that inclusion in the theme issue is subject to final external peer review.

We warmly welcome your proposal!

For more information, click here.

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Wait, NBC Sports Announcer Mike Tirico Isn’t Black?

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2017-07-18 20:46Z by Steven

Wait, NBC Sports Announcer Mike Tirico Isn’t Black?

The Root

Stephen A. Crockett Jr., Senior Editor

Getty Images Staff/Getty Images

Wait … hol’ up. Normally when we wade into these blackness waters, it’s because some fair-skinned pop star is refusing to accept that the back of her hair—you know, the area above the neck; the area that old folks call the “kitchen”; the area that used to make my sisters cry when my mom really dug in with the hairbrush and Posner Light Touch hair grease … that area—is a little thicker than the rest.

But this news here is mind-boggling. Longtime ESPN broadcaster-turned-NBC Sports announcer Mike Tirico doesn’t believe himself to be black. To hear him tell it, he’s just an Italian kid who grew up in Queens, N.Y., who people keep insisting is black.

In a recent interview with the New York Times titled, “Mike Tirico Would Like to Talk About Anything but Mike Tirico,” the sportscaster had this to say about race:…

Read the entire article here.

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Mike Tirico Would Like to Talk About Anything but Mike Tirico

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2017-07-18 20:36Z by Steven

Mike Tirico Would Like to Talk About Anything but Mike Tirico

The New York Times

Juliet Macur

Mike Tirico in the NBC booth before calling the Belmont Stakes. Tirico will take over for Bob Costas as the host of the Winter Olympics next year but prefers to avoid talking about himself and his background.
Credit Uli Seit for The New York Times

BALTIMORE — Don’t pay any attention to Mike Tirico, even if you’ll be seeing much more of him, and soon.

Tirico has been a fixture in sports broadcasting for nearly three decades, his voice a prominent and familiar soundtrack for football and basketball and soccer and tennis and — actually, you name the sport, and he has probably worked it.

This week, he’ll host his 21st British Open. In the fall, he will take over Al Michaels’s spot on “Thursday Night Football.” Next February, he will replace Bob Costas as the host of NBC’s Olympics coverage, a not-so-subtle hint that he also is the network’s choice as the new face of NBC Sports.

Yet don’t mind Tirico. He insists. When he was in Baltimore in May to call the Preakness Stakes for NBC, he explained why he wants it that way.

In contrast to the yelling, preening and debating in vogue on sports shows, Tirico said, he strives to be an invisible narrator. It is an old-school notion, but Tirico’s shtick is that he doesn’t have a shtick — and that might just be why he appeals to such a broad audience…

…Those questions stem from a 1991 profile of him in The Post-Standard of Syracuse, N.Y., when he was just starting his career. In that article, Tirico said he wasn’t sure if he was black.

Ever since, perhaps regretting offering even that small peek into his private life, he has preferred to avoid the subject. Though he once described his relatives as “as white as the refrigerator I’m standing in front of right now,” a Washington Post article in 1997 described Tirico as “the first black play-by-play man (with a little Italian heritage in the family tree) to handle a golf telecast.”

But these days, at a time when the nation is transfixed by a discussion of race relations, Tirico just doesn’t want to go there. He told me to say he was mixed race, and that was that…

Read the entire article here.

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