A Fable of Agency

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia, Women on 2022-05-21 21:45Z by Steven

A Fable of Agency

The New York Review of Books
2022-05-26

Brenda Wineapple

Special Collections, University of Virginia Library

Lumpkin’s Jail; engraving from A History of the Richmond Theological Seminary, 1895

The Devil’s Half Acre: The Untold Story of How One Woman Liberated the South’s Most Notorious Slave Jail by Kristen Green. Seal, 332 pp., $30.00

Kristen Green’s The Devil’s Half Acre recounts the story of a fugitive slave jail, and the enslaved woman, Mary Lumpkin, who came to own it.

In The Allure of the Archives (1989), a gem of a book, the French historian Arlette Farge talks about unearthing, insofar as it’s possible, a past that’s not quite past—particularly in relation to the lives of women, whose histories have often been hidden, forgotten, or written over, women spoken about but whom we seldom hear speaking. Combing through the judicial archives at the Préfecture of Paris, Farge reads the sullen or angry answers that ordinary eighteenth-century Parisian women, some of the city’s poorest and most vulnerable, give to the police who have arrested them. And she knows that to understand what they say, or don’t say, we need to care and not to care: to distance ourselves with empathy while we set aside expectations and assumptions. Deciphering what’s left in the archives, Farge writes, “entails a roaming voyage through the words of others, and a search for a language that can rescue their relevance.”

Piecing together stories about women who managed the uncertainties and privations of their situations is even more difficult when the women in question have been enslaved and thus forbidden even the basic rights that an eighteenth-century Parisian laundress enjoyed. That is Kristen Green’s task in her impassioned The Devil’s Half Acre, which she calls “the untold story of how one woman liberated the South’s most notorious slave jail.”

Green is a journalist and also the author of Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County (2015), a personal account of how that Virginia county defied Brown v. Board of Education and shut down its schools for almost five years rather than integrate them. In The Devil’s Half Acre, she recovers the life of Mary Lumpkin, an enslaved woman of mixed race born in 1832 who, likely by 1840, was held in bondage at Lumpkin’s Jail, a chamber of horrors located between Franklin and Broad Streets in Shockoe Bottom, the central slave-trading quarter in Richmond, Virginia

Read the entire review here.

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Podcast Season 2 Episode 8: Centering Garifuna in the African Diaspora

Posted in Anthropology, Audio, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2022-05-16 22:28Z by Steven

Podcast Season 2 Episode 8: Centering Garifuna in the African Diaspora

Dialogues in Afrolatinidad
2022-05-04

Michele Reid-Vazquez, Host and Associate Professor
Department of Africana Studies
University of Pittsburgh

In this episode of Dialogues in Afrolatinidad, Dr. Paul Joseph López Oro, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Smith College talks with our host Dr. Michele Reid-Vazquez about his research on Garifuna migration and different meanings of Black identity. The conversation also touches upon Afro-Latinx communities in the United States, their relations with African-Americans, and issues of queer identity in these communities.

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The Portable Anna Julia Cooper

Posted in Anthologies, Autobiography, Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Social Justice, United States, Women on 2022-05-16 22:14Z by Steven

The Portable Anna Julia Cooper

Penguin Classics (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
2022-08-09
592 pages
5-1/16 x 7-3/4
Paperback ISBN: 9780143135067
Ebook ISBN: 9780525506713
Audiobook ISBN: 9780593457993

Anna Julia Cooper (1858-1964)

Edited by:

Shirley Moody-Turner, Associate Professor of English and African American Studies
Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

A collection of essential writings from the iconic foremother of Black women’s intellectual history, feminism, and activism, who helped pave the way for modern social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name

The Portable Anna Julia Cooper brings together, for the first time, Anna Julia Cooper’s major collection of essays, A Voice from the South, along with several previously unpublished poems, plays, journalism and selected correspondences, including over thirty previously unpublished letters between Anna Julia Cooper and W. E. B. Du Bois. The Portable Anna Julia Cooper will introduce a new generation of readers to an educator, public intellectual, and community activist whose prescient insights and eloquent prose underlie some of the most important developments in modern American intellectual thought and African American social and political activism.

Recognized as the iconic foremother of Black women’s intellectual history and activism, Cooper (1858-1964) penned one of the most forceful and enduring statements of Black feminist thought to come of out of the nineteenth century. Attention to her work has grown exponentially over the years–her words have been memorialized in the US passport and, in 2009, she was commemorated with a US postal stamp. Cooper’s writings on the centrality of Black girls and women to our larger national discourse has proved especially prescient in this moment of Black Lives Matter, Say Her Name, and the recent protests that have shaken the nation.

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How a slave’s daughter became an 1800s New Orleans entrepreneur: A Marigny cottage helps tell the tale

Posted in Articles, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Women on 2022-05-12 17:43Z by Steven

How a slave’s daughter became an 1800s New Orleans entrepreneur: A Marigny cottage helps tell the tale

NOLA.com
2022-05-09

Mike Scott, Contributing Writer

The house at 1515-17 Pauger St. in New Orleans sold in 2016 for $600,000.
(Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com |The Times-Picayune)

The little Creole cottage at 1515-17 Pauger St. in the Marigny Triangle is a humble one. Small and tidy, there would have been little to distinguish it from the countless other homes like it in New Orleans when it was built 200 years ago.

But sometimes a house is more than a house. Sometimes, the story it has to tell adds a little flavor to what it has to offer.

That’s precisely the case with the Pauger Street house, which stands out today as a beautifully preserved example of the bricks-between-posts construction — or briquette-entre-poteaux — so common during the city’s French colonial era.

Much more than that, although, the little home represents the indomitable spirit of the lady of shade who, in opposition to all odds, constructed it — presumably as a rental property, no much less — at a time wherein being White and male had been two of an important {qualifications} for such endeavors…

Read the entire article here.

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The Life of Elreta Melton Alexander: Activism within the Courts

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2022-05-05 01:33Z by Steven

The Life of Elreta Melton Alexander: Activism within the Courts

University of Georgia Press
2022-05-01
224 pages
Illustrations: 11 b&w
Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in
Hardcover ISBN: 9-780-8203-6192-5
Paperback ISBN: 9-780-8203-6193-2

Virginia L. Summey, Historian, Author, and Faculty Fellow
Lloyd International Honors College, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

This book explores the life and contributions of groundbreaking attorney, Elreta Melton Alexander Ralston (1919-98). In 1945 Alexander became the first African American woman to graduate from Columbia Law School. In 1947 she was the first African American woman to practice law in the state of North Carolina, and in 1968 she became the first African American woman to become an elected district court judge. Despite her accomplishments, Alexander is little known to scholars outside of her hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina. Her life and career deserve recognition, however, not just because of her impressive lists of “firsts,” but also owing to her accomplishments during the civil rights movement in the U.S. South.

While Alexander did not actively participate in civil rights marches and demonstrations, she used her professional achievements and middle-class status to advocate for individuals who lacked a voice in the southern legal system. Virginia L. Summey argues that Alexander was integral to the civil rights movement in North Carolina as she, and women like her, worked to change discriminatory laws while opening professional doors for other minority women. Using her professional status, Alexander combatted segregation by demonstrating that Black women were worthy and capable of achieving careers alongside white men, thereby creating environments in which other African Americans could succeed. Her legal expertise and ability to reach across racial boundaries made her an important figure in Greensboro history.

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Betty Reid Soskin: The extraordinary life of the nation’s oldest park ranger

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2022-04-21 21:39Z by Steven

Betty Reid Soskin: The extraordinary life of the nation’s oldest park ranger

Berkeleyside
Berkeley, California
2022-04-01

Daphne White

Betty Soskin in her living room. Photo: Daphne White

In this 2018 interview with Soskin who retired Thursday at the age of 100, the nation’s oldest park ranger said she considers herself “an absolutely ordinary extraordinary person.”

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in February 2018. We’re resharing it because Betty Reid Soskin, the nation’s oldest active park ranger, retired Thursday at the age of 100.

Betty Reid Soskin, 96, considers herself “an absolutely ordinary extraordinary person.”

Soskin has dated Jackie Robinson, co-founded Reid’s Records in Berkeley with her first husband, served as a “bag lady” (delivering cash) for the Black Panthers, and hobnobbed with the leaders of the human potential movement as a faculty wife with her second husband.

She also served in a Jim Crow segregated union hall in Richmond during World War II, experienced redlining in Berkeley when she tried to build her first house, moved to a racially-hostile Walnut Creek in the 1950s, and accidentally catapulted to fame in her 80s, as she brought her lived experience as a non-Rosie to the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park

Read the entire article here.

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The Capital of Free Women: Race, Legitimacy, and Liberty in Colonial Mexico

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs, Women on 2022-04-21 17:01Z by Steven

The Capital of Free Women: Race, Legitimacy, and Liberty in Colonial Mexico

Yale University Press
2022-04-12
296 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
9 b/w illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 9780300258066

Danielle Terrazas Williams, Lecturer in the School of History
University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

A restoration of the agency and influence of free African-descended women in colonial Mexico through their traces in archives

The Capital of Free Women examines how African-descended women strove for dignity in seventeenth-century Mexico. Free women in central Veracruz, sometimes just one generation removed from slavery, purchased land, ran businesses, managed intergenerational wealth, and owned slaves of African descent. Drawing from archives in Mexico, Spain, and Italy, Danielle Terrazas Williams explores the lives of African-descended women across the economic spectrum, evaluates their elite sensibilities, and challenges notions of race and class in the colonial period.

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Merle Oberon: India’s forgotten Hollywood star

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-04-21 14:39Z by Steven

Merle Oberon: India’s forgotten Hollywood star

BBC News
2022-04-16

Meryl Sebastian, BBC News, Delhi

Merle Oberon was born in Bombay

Merle Oberon, a Hollywood star of the black and white era, is a forgotten icon in India, the country of her birth.

Best-known for playing the lead in the classic Wuthering Heights, Oberon was an Anglo-Indian born in Bombay in 1911. But as a star in Hollywood’s Golden Age, she kept her background a secret – passing herself off as white – throughout her life.

Mayukh Sen, a US-based writer and academic, first stumbled across her name in 2009 when he found out that Oberon was the first actor of South Asian origin to be nominated for an Oscar.

His fascination grew as he saw her films and dug deeper into her past. “As a queer person, I empathise with this feeling that you must hide a part of your identity to survive in a hostile society that isn’t really ready to accept who you are,” he says. Sen is now working on a biography to tell Oberon’s story from a South Asian perspective…

Read the entire article here.

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Robin Thede Teases ‘Epic’ Return of ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’ on Variety’s ‘Through Our Lens’

Posted in Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Videos, Women on 2022-04-21 14:23Z by Steven

Robin Thede Teases ‘Epic’ Return of ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’ on Variety’s ‘Through Our Lens’

Variety
2022-04-02

Robin Thede, writer, comedian and creator of ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’, joins Variety’s Angelique Jackson on ‘Through Our Lens’ to discuss how her perspective as a Black woman has shaped her comedy career and outlook as a creator and showrunner.

Watch the interview here. Read the article here.

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June Shagaloff Alexander, School Desegregation Leader, Dies at 93

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States, Women on 2022-04-15 00:16Z by Steven

June Shagaloff Alexander, School Desegregation Leader, Dies at 93

The New York Times
2022-04-06

Clay Risen

June Shagaloff in 1953. Thurgood Marshall hired her out of college to work for the N.A.A.C.P. on school desegregation cases. Bill Sullivan/Newsday RM via Getty Images

She helped Thurgood Marshall prepare for his Supreme Court fight and later took on de facto school segregation across the North and West.

June Shagaloff Alexander, whose work for the N.A.A.C.P. and its legal arm in the 1950s and ’60s put her at the forefront of the nationwide fight for school integration and made her a close confidante of civil rights figures like Thurgood Marshall and James Baldwin, died on March 29 at her home in Tel Aviv. She was 93…

…Although she was white, her dark complexion sometimes led people to assume she was Black, to the point of barring her from certain whites-only public spaces, an experience that she said shaped her early commitment to civil rights.

But this ambiguity proved to be an asset in her work. When investigating a segregated school district, she would visit a white school pretending to be a prospective white parent, then do the same at a Black school, pretending to be a prospective Black parent — a ruse that gave her a unique, unvarnished view of the district’s education inequities…

Read the entire obituary here.

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