Katherine Johnson, who hand-crunched the numbers for America’s first manned space flight, is 100 today

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-08-27 21:50Z by Steven

Katherine Johnson, who hand-crunched the numbers for America’s first manned space flight, is 100 today

Cable News Network (CNN)
2018-08-26

Saeed Ahmed, Senior Editor, Trends, CNN Digital

Emanuella Grinberg, Digital news reporter

Katherine Johnson worked in the "Computer Pool" at NASA.
Katherine Johnson worked in the “Computer Pool” at NASA.

(CNN)—Katherine Johnson, the woman who hand-calculated the trajectory for America’s first trip to space, turns 100 today.

Before the arrival of electronic data processors, aka, computers in the 1960s, humans — mainly women — comprised the workforce at NASA known as the “Computer Pool.”

Black women, especially, played a crucial role in the pool, providing mathematical data for NASA’s first successful space missions, including Alan Shepherd’s 1961 mission and John Glenn’s pioneering orbital spaceflight

Read the entire article here.

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Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2018-08-22 01:06Z by Steven

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Simon & Schuster
2018-10-02
864 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781416590316

David W. Blight, Class of 1954 Professor of American History; Professor of African-American and American Studies; Director, Gilder Lehrman Center
Yale University

The definitive, dramatic biography of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.

As a young man Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. He wrote three versions of his autobiography over the course of his lifetime and published his own newspaper. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery.

Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, often to large crowds, using his own story to condemn slavery. He broke with Garrison to become a political abolitionist, a Republican, and eventually a Lincoln supporter. By the Civil War and during Reconstruction, Douglass became the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation. He denounced the premature end of Reconstruction and the emerging Jim Crow era. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot. He sometimes argued politically with younger African-Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights.

In this remarkable biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers. Blight tells the fascinating story of Douglass’s two marriages and his complex extended family. Douglass was not only an astonishing man of words, but a thinker steeped in Biblical story and theology. There has not been a major biography of Douglass in a quarter century. David Blight’s Frederick Douglass affords this important American the distinguished biography he deserves.

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Anita Florence Hemmings: Passing for White at Vassar

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Women on 2018-08-14 18:04Z by Steven

Anita Florence Hemmings: Passing for White at Vassar

Owlcation
2018-08-02

Ronald E. Franklin

Anita Florence Hemmings

Anita Florence Hemmings graduated from Vassar in 1897. But though she was an excellent student, she came very close to not getting her degree at all. That was because just days before graduation, Anita’s roommate uncovered her deepest secret.

In a school that would never have considered admitting a black student, Anita Hemmings had for four years covered up the fact that she was of African American ancestry.

In other words, Anita Hemmings was a black woman who was passing for white, and it almost got her kicked out of Vassar on the very eve of her graduation.

Lebanon Daily News, September 11, 1897
Source: Lebanon Daily News, September 11, 1897

Anita’s Family: Up From Slavery

Anita Hemmings was born on June 8, 1872. Her parents were Robert Williamson Hemmings and Dora Logan Hemmings, both of whom had been born in Virginia, apparently to slave parents. Robert worked as a janitor, while Dora was listed in census records as a homemaker.

Robert and Dora both identified themselves as “mulattoes,” people of mixed black and white heritage.

The Hemmings family lived at 9 Sussex Street in Boston, which is in the historically black Roxbury section of the city. Though they might be living in humble circumstances, Robert and Dora were very ambitious for their four children. Not only would they send Anita to Vassar, but her brother would graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Frederick Hemmings made no effort to hide his race at MIT, where his student records identify him as “colored.”

But the option of openly identifying herself as black was not open to Anita; not if she wanted to fulfill her lifelong dream of going to Vassar…

Read the entire article here.

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Emma Dabiri: The Diaspora Diva on trolls, modelling and growing up black in Dublin

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2018-08-14 00:20Z by Steven

Emma Dabiri: The Diaspora Diva on trolls, modelling and growing up black in Dublin

Sunday Independent
2018-08-14

Donal Lynch

Emma Dabiri, author, TV presenter, model is very much at home in London but she's an Irish girl at heart. Photo: Jonathan Goldberg
Emma Dabiri, author, TV presenter, model is very much at home in London but she’s an Irish girl at heart. Photo: Jonathan Goldberg

With her BBC series about to air, academic and broadcaster Emma Dabiri spoke to Donal Lynch

It’s a sweltering afternoon and on a quiet London side street, outside an impossibly chic bakery (it’s where Meghan and Harry had their wedding cake made), academic, author and former-model Emma Dabiri is taking a well-earned break from working on the final manuscript for her forthcoming book: Don’t Touch My Hair.

Before we meet I half considered this a slightly redundant admonition for polite society – why would anyone, bar someone with latent Harvey Weinstein tendencies, touch a woman’s hair unbidden? – but, in person, you can see where the temptation might arise. In this most genteel of settings, Emma’s hair is an event, a happening, a lustrously-beautiful nimbus that frames her fine features. Curiosity and generations of cultural racism seem to spur the urge to pet it, stroke it. I heroically resist, but others are not so strong.

“A few weeks ago a woman reached out to touch my hair on the tube and as she put out her hand she said ‘wait… you don’t like that, do you?’ It was as though some dim memory of editorials she’d read somewhere, came bursting through; she remembered and held herself back a bit.”

Growing up in Dublin, it happened all the time. It was constant. Often kids would just say “oh my God, look at her hair, it’s mad” and come right over and have a feel and a chat”, she recalls. “It felt strange and objectifying. I found it strange because I wouldn’t even touch someone’s dog without asking them. I never questioned all of the treatments (that are used to ‘relax’ black hair) but they weren’t always available to me because it’s difficult to get those products in Ireland. My mum would work in Liverpool or Manchester, and there you could get a curly perm, which is sort of like defined curls, rather than afro hair…

…As for whether she feels ‘more’ Irish or Nigerian, “people often ask me that. To me, it’s not a relevant question. First of all, I was born and raised in Ireland, but really I don’t feel I have to choose. I identify as both black and Irish, it may be unusual – although happily increasingly less so – but the two are not mutually exclusive!…

Read the entire article here.

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Walter F. White: The NAACP’s Ambassador for Racial Justice

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Social Justice, United States on 2018-08-04 01:25Z by Steven

Walter F. White: The NAACP’s Ambassador for Racial Justice

West Virginia University Press
January 2019
468 pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-946684-62-2
eBook ISBN: 978-1-946684-63-9

Robert L. Zangrando, Professor Emeritus of History
University of Akron

Ronald L. Lewis, Stuart and Joyce Robbins Chair and Professor Emeritus of History
West Virginia University

Walter F. White of Atlanta, Georgia, joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1918 as an assistant to Executive Secretary James Weldon Johnson. When Johnson retired in 1929, White replaced him as head of the NAACP, a position he maintained until his death in 1955. During his long tenure, White was in the vanguard of the struggle for interracial justice. His reputation went into decline, however, in the era of grassroots activism that followed his death. White’s disagreements with the US Left, and his ambiguous racial background—he was of mixed heritage, could “pass” as white, and divorced a black woman to marry a white woman—fueled ambivalence about his legacy.

In this comprehensive biography, Zangrando and Lewis seek to provide a reassessment of White within the context of his own time, revising critical interpretations of his career. White was a promoter of and a participant in the Harlem Renaissance, a daily fixture in the halls of Congress lobbying for civil rights legislation, and a powerful figure with access to the administrations of Roosevelt (via Eleanor) and Truman. As executive secretary of the NAACP, White fought incessantly to desegregate the American military and pushed to ensure equal employment opportunities. On the international stage, White advocated for people of color in a decolonized world and for economic development aid to nations like India and Haiti, bridging the civil rights struggles at home and abroad.

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Octavia Spencer, Queen Latifah To Bring Racially Charged ‘The Rhinelander Affair’ To Screen With Zero Gravity

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, Passing on 2018-07-30 00:28Z by Steven

Octavia Spencer, Queen Latifah To Bring Racially Charged ‘The Rhinelander Affair’ To Screen With Zero Gravity

Deadline Hollywood
2018-07-23

Anita Busch

Octavia Spencer Queen Latifah
REX/Shutterstock

EXCLUSIVE: It’s a great story that delves into the caste system, racism and sexism. The Rhinelander Affair, written by William Kinsolving, follows the controversial 1925 divorce trial in New York involving a man from an upper-class New Rochelle family who married a bi-racial, working-class woman. It is a ripped from the headlines story from the 1920s with many meaty roles in what was a roller coaster ride about money, love, racism and betrayal.

The project is now being produced for the big screen by Mark and Christine Holder (who found the story), Octavia Spencer, Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere’s Flavor Unit Entertainment and Dave Broome (The Day I Met El Chapo). The Kingsolving manuscript, repped by Trident, is going out to publishers this summer.


Alice Jones and Leonard (Kip) Rhinelander

The story revolves around Leonard Rhinelander and Alice Jones, who fell in love (she was 22 and he 18), and then were kept apart by Rhinelander’s family. However, they married in secret before it spilled into the papers and stayed that way for three years. At issue was whether Jones duped Leonard into marrying her by hiding the fact that she was bi-racial (she was the daughter of an English woman and an English-West Indian taxi driver). Leonard stood by Alice under intense media scrutiny until pressures — both internally with the family and externally — caused them to divorce…

Read the entire article here.

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Overlooked No More: Edmonia Lewis, Sculptor of Worldwide Acclaim

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2018-07-29 23:35Z by Steven

Overlooked No More: Edmonia Lewis, Sculptor of Worldwide Acclaim

The New York Times
2018-07-25

Penelope Green


The 19th century sculptor Edmonia Lewis. The intense focus on her race both frustrated her and fueled her ambition.
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum

As an artist she transcended constraints, and as a woman of color, she confronted a society that wished to categorize her.

Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. With Overlooked, we’re adding the stories of remarkable people whose deaths went unreported in The Times.

It was the middle of the 19th century, and Edmonia Lewis, part West Indian, part Chippewa, had the audacity to be an artist. It was risky enough for a free woman of color to pursue such a career, but to claim marble as her medium was to tilt at the Victorian conventions of the time, which decreed gentler aesthetic forms for the second sex, like poetry or painting.

Among the first black sculptors known to achieve widespread international fame, Lewis was raised Catholic, educated at Oberlin College in Ohio and mentored by abolitionists in Boston. She lived much of her life in Rome, sailing to Europe in 1865 and joining a community of American sculptors there who included female artists derided by the author Henry James as “a white marmorean flock.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta: The Celebrated California Bandit

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2018-07-24 01:18Z by Steven

The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta: The Celebrated California Bandit

Penguin Classics
2017-07-10
208 pages
5-1/16 x 7-3/4
Paperback ISBN: 9780143132653
Ebook ISBN: 9780525504580

John Rollin Ridge (1827-1867)

Foreword by Diana Gabaldon
Introduction by Hsuan L. Hsu
Notes by Hsuan L. Hsu

The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta by John Rollin Ridge

The first novel to feature a Mexican American hero: an adventure tale about Mexicans rising up against U.S. rule in California, based on the real-life bandit who inspired the creation of Zorro, the Lone Ranger, and Batman

With a new foreword by Diana Gabaldon, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Outlander series

An action-packed blend of folk tale, romance, epic, and myth, The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta tells the story of the Gold Rush-era Mexican immigrant Joaquín Murieta, whose efforts to find fortune and happiness are thwarted by white settlers who murder his family and drive him off his land. In retaliation, Murieta organizes a band of more than 2,000 outlaws–including the sadistic “Three-Fingered Jack”–who take revenge by murdering, stealing horses, and robbing miners, all with the ultimate goal of reconquering California.

The first novel written by a Native American and the first novel published in California, The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta speaks to the ways in which ethical questions of national security and racialized police violence have long been a part of U.S. history. This edition features excerpts from popular rewritings of the novel, including Johnston McCulley’s first novel about Zorro, The Curse of Capistrano (also known as The Mark of Zorro).

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Black Saint of the Americas: The Life and Afterlife of Martín de Porres

Posted in Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion on 2018-07-02 01:16Z by Steven

Black Saint of the Americas: The Life and Afterlife of Martín de Porres

Cambridge University Press
2014-10-13
311 pages
16 b/w illus.
229 x 152 x 18 mm
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1107034372
Paperback ISBN: 9781108404174
Online ISBN: 9781139540599

Celia Cussen, Associate Professor of History
Universidad de Chile

In May 1962, as the struggle for civil rights heated up in the United States and leaders of the Catholic Church prepared to meet for Vatican Council II, Pope John XXIII named the first black saint of the Americas, the Peruvian Martín de Porres (1579–1639), and designated him the patron of racial justice. The son of a Spanish father and a former slavewoman from Panamá, Martín served a lifetime as the barber and nurse at the great Dominican monastery in Lima. This book draws on visual representations of Martín and the testimony of his contemporaries to produce the first biography of this pious and industrious black man from the cosmopolitan capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru. The book vividly chronicles the evolving interpretations of his legend and his miracles, and traces the centuries-long campaign to formally proclaim Martín de Porres a hero of universal Catholicism.

  • The first full-length work dedicated to Martín de Porres from a scholarly viewpoint
  • An analysis of witness testimonies and images that portrayed the virtues and miracles of Martín
  • A readable discussion of how the cult of the first black saint of the Americas evolved along with the needs and attitudes of Catholics in Peru and elsewhere

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Part I. The Life:
    • 1. Race and family
    • 2. The convent and the colonial world
    • 3. Healing and faith
    • 4. Death and the heavenly transit
  • Part II. The Afterlife:
    • 5. Creating a Vida from a life
    • 6. The miracles
    • 7. Images in black and white
    • 8. Sainthood
  • Conclusion
  • Appendixes
  • Bibliography
  • Endnotes
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Adrian Piper’s Show at MoMA is the Largest Ever for a Living Artist. Why Hasn’t She Seen It?

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-06-30 01:10Z by Steven

Adrian Piper’s Show at MoMA is the Largest Ever for a Living Artist. Why Hasn’t She Seen It?

The New York Times Magazine
2018-06-27

Thomas Chatterton Williams


Illustration by Hsiao-Ron Cheng

The conceptual artist’s life and work push against the boundaries

Adrian Piper, the conceptual artist and analytic philosopher, is almost as well known for what she has stopped doing as for what she has done. By 1985, she had given up alcohol, meat and sex. In 2005, she took a leave of absence from her job at Wellesley, sold her home on Cape Cod and shipped all of her belongings to Germany. On a lecture tour in the United States the next year, she discovered a mark on her plane ticket that suggested, to her, that she’d been placed on a watch list; she has not set foot in America since. Then, in 2012, on her 64th birthday, she “retired from being black.” She did this by uploading a digitally altered self-portrait to her website, in which she had darkened her skin — normally café très-au-lait — to the color of elephant hide. It was accompanied by a news bulletin announcing her retirement. The pithy text superimposed at the bottom of the photo elaborated: “Henceforth, my new racial designation will be neither black nor white but rather 6.25% grey, honoring my 1/16th African heritage,” she wrote. “Please join me in celebrating this exciting new adventure in pointless administrative precision and futile institutional control!” (Through extensive genealogical work, she later determined that her African heritage is closer to one-eighth.)

The piece was, like much of Piper’s art and writing, absurdly comical in no small part because it was so brutally honest. It was inspired by Piper’s dawning realization that she was unable to fulfill other people’s expectations through the lens of race; since the early 2000s, she had stopped allowing any of her artwork to be exhibited in all-black shows, which she came to see as ghettoizing. In 2015, she announced that she would no longer talk to the press about her work.

Such inflexibility has done little to damage her standing in the art world. On a drizzly evening in March, a well-turned-out crowd of several hundred alighted upon the Museum of Modern Art to sip prosecco, schmooze and Instagram snippets of Piper’s immense body of work. The occasion was the opening of the enormous, and enormously demanding for the casual viewer, 50-year career retrospective, “Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions, 1965-2016,” on display through July 22. The exhibition draws its title from Kant’sCritique of Pure Reason,” a lifelong touchstone for Piper, and marks the first time in MoMA’s history that the work of any living artist has earned the entirety of its sprawling sixth-floor special-exhibitions gallery. Alongside a Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale, which Piper won in 2015, this is among the very highest honors the art world can proffer…


‘‘Self-Portrait Exaggerating My Negroid Features’’ (1981)
The Eileen Harris Norton Collection. Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation Berlin.

I’d flown from Paris to see the opening of “Synthesis” after having struck up a polite but formal email correspondence with Piper. In the last message she had sent me, about three weeks earlier, she refused to speak to me on the record unless she or her archivist could independently fact-check the article before publication. “I decided a long time ago that I would prefer no representation to misrepresentation,” she wrote, and it seemed that, with this impossible condition, she would not grant an exemption from her indefinite moratorium. She suggested, as an alternative, that I consult her website and extensive body of published writing, an incalculable number of academic articles, essays and books. But I had already read many of those, and they had left me convinced that she has been quietly conducting, from that vexed and ever-expanding blot on the American fabric where white and black bleed into each other, one of the smartest, funniest and most profound interrogations of the racial madness that governs and stifles our national life that I had ever encountered…

Read the entire article here.

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