‘America’s Oldest Park Ranger’ Is Only Her Latest Chapter

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-09-21 00:50Z by Steven

‘America’s Oldest Park Ranger’ Is Only Her Latest Chapter

The New York Times
2021-09-20

Jennifer Schuessler


Chanell Stone for The New York Times

Betty Reid Soskin has fought to ensure that American history includes the stories that get overlooked. As she turns 100, few stories have been more remarkable than hers.

The Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front National Historical Park, which sprawls across the former shipyards in Richmond, Calif., on the northeast edge of San Francisco Bay, tells the enormous story of the largest wartime mobilization in American history and the sweeping social changes it sparked.

Visitors can climb aboard an enormous Victory ship, one of more than 700 vessels produced in Richmond — and, in the gift shop, pick up swag emblazoned with the iconic image of the red-kerchiefed Rosie herself, arm flexed up with “We Can Do It!” bravado.

But for many, the park is synonymous with another woman: Betty.

Betty Reid Soskin, who turns 100 on Sept. 22, is the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service. Over the past decade and a half, she has become both an icon of the service and an unlikely celebrity, drawing overflow crowds to talks and a steady stream of media interviewers eager for the eloquent words of an indomitable 5 feet 3 inch great-grandmother once described by a colleague as “sort of like Bette Davis, Angela Davis and Yoda all rolled into one.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A Love Letter to Indigenous Blackness

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2021-09-21 00:36Z by Steven

A Love Letter to Indigenous Blackness

NACLA: Report on the Americas
Volume 53, Issue 3, November 2021 (Published online 2021-09-13)
pages 248-254

Paul Joseph López Oro, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies
Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts


A Garifuna ritual gathering to honor the ancestors at Orchard Beach in the Bronx, New York, June 2017. (Paul Joseph López Oro)

Garifuna women in New York City working to preserve life, culture, and history across borders and generations are part of a powerful lineage of resistance to anti-Blackness.

Mirtha Colón. Janel Martinez. Aida Lambert. Tania Molina. Carla Garcia. Tola Guerrero. Karen Blanco. Miriam Miranda. Ofelia Bernandez. Olga Nuñez. Luz Solis. Siria Alvarez. Isha Sumner. Sulma Arzu-Brown. Dilma Suazo-Gordon. Isidra Sabio. These are just some names of Garifuna women whose hemispheric political labor highlights a transgenerational and transnational tradition of preserving Garifuna life. Garifuna women are the very foundation of conjuring, mobilizing, and safeguarding Garifuna ancestral memory, rituals, language, and oral histories—all embodied histories of knowledge production—across generations and national boundaries. Some of these Garifuna women live in New York City, and some of them live in Central America’s Caribbean coasts. Some have never been to Central America, but their family’s nostalgia remains with them.

Garifuna life is matrifocal. Garifuna women are not simply the head of the household, but they are also at the center of organizing and governing every family structure, which extends beyond biological kinship. This is not a uniquely Garifuna experience. Throughout the African diaspora in the Americas, Black women are often the head of the household. Especially if we consider non-heteronormative notions of family and kinship, Black women have been at the forefront of preserving and protecting Black life over centuries, as anthropologists Christen A. Smith and Keisha-Khan Y. Perry have documented. However, a matrifocal or matrilineal society does not dismantle misogynoir, patriarchy, racial capitalism, and anti-Blackness. I write this matrilineal love letter to honor, celebrate, and center Garifuna women’s political, intellectual, spiritual, cultural, and knowledge producing labor that often goes unseen, uncited, or undervalued in a world that remains heteropatriarchal and anti-Black…

Read the entire article here.

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Pauli Murray Should Be a Household Name. A New Film Shows Why.

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Gay & Lesbian, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2021-09-20 16:49Z by Steven

Pauli Murray Should Be a Household Name. A New Film Shows Why.

The New York Times
2021-09-15

Melena Ryzik


A scene from “My Name Is Pauli Murray.” The documentarian Betsy West, who made the film with Julie Cohen, said, “We just thought, why didn’t anybody teach us about this person?” Amazon Studios

The lawyer, activist and minister made prescient arguments on gender, race and equality that influenced Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

When the lawyer, activist, author and educator Pauli Murray died in 1985 at the age of 75, no obituary or commemoration could contain all of her pathbreaking accomplishments. A radical and brilliant legal strategist, Murray was named a deputy attorney general in California — the first Black person in that office — in 1946, just a year after passing the bar there. Murray was an organizer of sit-ins and participated in bus protests as far back as the 1940s, and co-founded the National Organization for Women. Murray was also the first Black woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest. In 2012, she was sainted.

Murray has been saluted in legal, academic and gender-studies circles, and in the L.G.B.T.Q. community. But her overarching impact on American life in the 20th and now 21st centuries has not been broadly acknowledged: the thinking and writing that paved the way for Brown v. Board of Education; the consideration of intersectionality (she helped popularize the term “Jane Crow”); the enviable social circle, as she was a buddy of Langston Hughes and a pen pal of Eleanor Roosevelt, and worked on her first memoir alongside James Baldwin at the MacDowell Colony in the first year it allowed Black artists.

Murray was devoted to feminism and the rights of women even as, it turned out, she privately battled lifelong gender identity issues. She should be a household name on par with Gloria Steinem or Ruth Bader Ginsburg, both of whom cited her work often. Instead Murray is an insider’s civil rights icon.

Now a documentary, “My Name Is Pauli Murray,” aims to introduce Murray to the masses. Made by the same Academy Award-nominated filmmakers behind the surprise hit “RBG,” it uses Murray’s own voice and words as narration, drawn from interviews, oral histories and the prolific writing — books, poems and a collection of argumentative, impassioned and romantic letters — that Murray meticulously filed away with an eye toward her legacy. And the film arrives at a moment when the tenacious activism of people of color, especially women, is being re-contextualized and newly acknowledged, at the same time that many of the battles they fought are still raging…

Read the entire article here.

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Sexuality and Slavery: Reclaiming Intimate Histories in the Americas

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Women on 2021-09-20 13:57Z by Steven

Sexuality and Slavery: Reclaiming Intimate Histories in the Americas

University of Georgia Press
2018-10-01
240 pages
5 b&w images
6.000in x 9.000in
Hardcover ISBN: 9-780-8203-5403-3
Paperback ISBN: 9-780-8203-5404-0

Edited by:

Daina Ramey Berry, Oliver H. Radkey Regents Professor of History
University of Texas, Austin

Leslie M. Harris, Professor of History
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

Foreword by:

Catherine Clinton, Denman Endowed Professor in American History
University of Texas, San Antonio

An examination of the many facets of sexuality within slave communities

In this groundbreaking collection, editors Daina Ramey Berry and Leslie M. Harris place sexuality at the center of slavery studies in the Americas (the United States, the Caribbean, and South America). While scholars have marginalized or simply overlooked the importance of sexual practices in most mainstream studies of slavery, Berry and Harris argue here that sexual intimacy constituted a core terrain of struggle between slaveholders and the enslaved. These essays explore consensual sexual intimacy and expression within slave communities, as well as sexual relationships across lines of race, status, and power. Contributors explore sexuality as a tool of control, exploitation, and repression and as an expression of autonomy, resistance, and defiance.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword / Catherine Clinton
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction / Daina Ramey Berry and Leslie M. Harris
  • Chapter 1 : Early European Views of African Bodies: Beauty / Stephanie M. H. Camp
  • Chapter 2: Toiling in the Fields: Valuing Female Slaves in Jamaica, 1674-1788 / Trevor Barnard
  • Chapter 3: Reading the Specter of Racialized Gender in Eighteenth-Century Bridgetown, Barbados / Marisa J. Fuentes
  • Chapter 4: As if She Were My Own: Love and Law in the Slave Society of Eighteenth-Century Peru /Bianca Premo
  • Chapter 5: Wombs of Liberation: Petitions, Law, and the Black Woman’s Body in Maryland, 1780-1858 / Jessica Millward
  • Chapter 6: Rethinking Sexual Violence and the Marketplace of Slavery: White Women, the Slave Market, and Enslaved Peoples Sexualized Bodies in the Nineteenth-Century South / Stephanie Jones-Rogers
  • Chapter 7: The Sexual Abuse of Black Men under American Slavery Thomas A. Foster
  • Chapter 8: Manhood, Sex, and Power in Antebellum Slave Communities / David Doddington
  • Chapter 9: What’s Love Got to Do with It? Concubinage and Enslaved Women and Girls in the Antebellum South / Brenda E. Stevenson
  • Chapter 10: When the Present Is Past: Writing the History of Sexuality and Slavery / Jim Downs
  • Contributors
  • Index
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The Story Of J.P. Morgan’s ‘Personal Librarian’ — And Why She Chose To Pass As White

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-09-14 14:38Z by Steven

The Story Of J.P. Morgan’s ‘Personal Librarian’ — And Why She Chose To Pass As White

Code Switch
National Public Radio
2021-08-31

Karen Grigsby Bates, Senior Correspondent


Marie Benedict (left) and Victoria Christopher Murray
Phil Atkins

This summer on Code Switch, we’re talking to some of our favorite authors about books that taught us about the different dimensions of freedom. In our last installment, we talked to author Julia Alvarez about her poetry collection The Woman I Kept to Myself and how difficult it can be to share your many selves with the world. Next up, a conversation with authors Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray on their book The Personal Librarian.

At the turn of the 20th century, financier J.P. Morgan amassed a rich collection of antique objects related to the power of the written word: manuscripts, books, artwork. He did it all with the idea of enjoying his collection privately. But shortly after his death, Morgan’s personal librarian, a woman named Belle da Costa Greene, convinced J.P. Morgan’s son, Jack Morgan, to make the library a gift to New York City.

The Morgan, as it is now known, welcomes thousands of visitors each year — scholars, researchers, tourists and art lovers — to enjoy the collection. What most don’t know is this: For more than four decades, the library’s collections were acquired and curated by a Black woman. Belle da Costa Greene was quietly passing as white in order to work for one of the most powerful men in the United States

Read the story here.

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Yellow Wife, A Novel

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Novels, Slavery, United States, Women on 2021-09-12 23:32Z by Steven

Yellow Wife, A Novel

Simon & Schuster
2021-01-12
288 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781982149109
Paperback ISBN-13: 9781982149116
Audiobook ISBN-13: 9781797118819 (09:31:00)

Sadeqa Johnson

Called “wholly engrossing” by New York Times bestselling author Kathleen Grissom, this harrowing story follows an enslaved woman forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia.

Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown has lived a relatively sheltered life. Shielded by her mother’s position as the estate’s medicine woman and cherished by the Master’s sister, she is set apart from the others on the plantation, belonging to neither world.

She’d been promised freedom on her eighteenth birthday, but instead of the idyllic life she imagined with her true love, Essex Henry, Pheby is forced to leave the only home she has ever known. She unexpectedly finds herself thrust into the bowels of slavery at the infamous Devil’s Half Acre, a jail in Richmond, Virginia, where the enslaved are broken, tortured, and sold every day. There, Pheby is exposed not just to her Jailer’s cruelty but also to his contradictions. To survive, Pheby will have to outwit him, and she soon faces the ultimate sacrifice.

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The Devil’s Half Acre: The Untold Story of How One Woman Liberated the South’s Most Notorious Slave Jail

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Virginia, Women on 2021-09-12 23:18Z by Steven

The Devil’s Half Acre: The Untold Story of How One Woman Liberated the South’s Most Notorious Slave Jail

Seal Press (an imprint of Basic Books)
2022-04-12
352 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781541675636
eBook ISBN-13: 9781541675629
Audiobook ISBN-13: 9781549193354

Kristen Green

The inspiring true story of an enslaved woman who liberated an infamous slave jail and transformed it into one of the nation’s first HBCUs

In The Devil’s Half Acre, New York Times bestselling author Kristen Green draws on years of research to tell the extraordinary and little-known story of young Mary Lumpkin, an enslaved woman who blazed a path of liberation for thousands. She was forced to have the children of a brutal slave trader and live on the premises of his slave jail, known as the “Devil’s Half Acre.” When she inherited the jail after the death of her slaveholder, she transformed it into “God’s Half Acre,” a school where Black men could fulfill their dreams. It still exists today as Virginia Union University, one of America’s first Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

A sweeping narrative of a life in the margins of the American slave trade, The Devil’s Half Acre brings Mary Lumpkin into the light. This is the story of the resilience of a woman on the path to freedom, her historic contributions, and her enduring legacy.

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She was raped by the owner of a notorious slave jail. Later, she inherited it.

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia, Women on 2021-09-12 23:02Z by Steven

She was raped by the owner of a notorious slave jail. Later, she inherited it.

The Washington Post
2020-02-01

Sydney Trent, Local enterprise reporter


An engraving print of the Lumpkin Slave Jail, from Corey’s “A History of the Richmond Theological Seminary.” (City of Richmond)

Robert Lumpkin was one of the South’s most prolific and brutal slave traders, presiding over a slave jail in Richmond so notorious that it was referred to as the “Devil’s Half Acre.”

Mary Lumpkin lived with him — and with the horror of who he was, bearing witness to the extreme punishments he meted out to enslaved people like her.

Under Robert Lumpkin’s ownership from 1844 until the end of the Civil War, the jail held thousands of enslaved men and women in its dim and cramped cells, permeated by the stench of human excrement. Many were destined for the auction block; others were captured runaways. Some had been delivered there by their masters to receive more expert punishment. The names of dead prisoners appeared on Robert Lumpkin’s insurance claims, their bodies buried in unmarked graves scattered about the property.

Described by an abolitionist minister who met her as “large, fair-faced . . . nearly white,” Mary was also Robert’s slave. She was raped and impregnated by him as a child, ultimately bearing at least seven of his children, five of whom survived. She kept house and raised their offspring within the fenced brick compound that included the jail…

Read the entire article here.

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The First Black Supermodel, Whom History Forgot

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Europe, Media Archive, Women on 2021-09-11 17:30Z by Steven

The First Black Supermodel, Whom History Forgot

The Cut
2013-07-10

Keli Goff


Photo: Woodgate/Associated Newspapers/Rex USA

Fashion has a notoriously complicated history when it comes to black models, but the past month felt particularly loaded with talking points: Prada hired their first black model for a campaign in nineteen years; Kinee Diouf became the first black model on the cover of Vogue Netherlands, months after the magazine had painted a white model in “blackface”; and then Raf Simons cast black runway models – six of them – in his Dior couture show for the first time since he arrived at the house.

It’s slow progress since Donyale Luna became the first black supermodel nearly 50 years ago. Especially since most inveterate fashion-watchers don’t even know Luna’s name…

Read the entire article here.

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Being La Dominicana: Race and Identity in the Visual Culture of Santo Domingo

Posted in Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Women on 2021-09-06 01:55Z by Steven

Being La Dominicana: Race and Identity in the Visual Culture of Santo Domingo

University of Illinois Press
August 2021
264 pages
6 x 9 in.
13 black & white photographs
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-252-04381-9
Paper ISBN: 978-0-252-08580-2
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-252-05271-2

Rachel Afi Quinn, Associate Professor of Comparative Cultural Studies and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies
University of Houston, Houston, Texas

Dominican women being seen—and seeing themselves—in popular culture

Rachel Afi Quinn investigates the ways Dominican visual culture portrays Dominican women and how women represent themselves in their own creative endeavors in response to existing stereotypes. Delving into the dynamic realities and uniquely racialized gendered experiences of women in Santo Domingo, Quinn reveals how racial ambiguity and color hierarchy work to shape experiences of identity and subjectivity in the Dominican Republic. She merges analyses of context and interviews with young Dominican women to offer rare insights into a Caribbean society in which the tourist industry and popular media reward, and rely upon, the ability of Dominican women to transform themselves to perform gender, race, and class.

Engaging and astute, Being La Dominicana reveals the little-studied world of today’s young Dominican women and what their personal stories and transnational experiences can tell us about the larger neoliberal world.

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