An American Color: Race and Identity in New Orleans and the Atlantic World

Posted in Books, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2022-01-20 02:28Z by Steven

An American Color: Race and Identity in New Orleans and the Atlantic World

University of Georgia Press
2022-01-15
272 pages
Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in
Hardcover ISBN: 9-780-8203-6076-8
Paperback ISBN: 9-780-8203-6078-2

Andrew N. Wegmann, Associate Professor of History
Delta State University, Cleveland, Mississippi

For decades, scholars have conceived of the coastal city of New Orleans as a remarkable outlier, an exception to nearly every “rule” of accepted U.S. historiography. American only by adoption, New Orleans, in most studies, serves as a frontier town of the circum-Caribbean-a vestige of North America’s European colonial era along the southern coast of a foreign, northern, insular United States. Beneath that, too, many have argued, a complex algorithm of racial mixtures was at work well into the nineteenth century, a complexity of racial understanding and treatment that almost every scholar to date has claimed simply did not exist within the more “American” states further north and outside the bounds of the Caribbean’s bizarre socioracial influence.

The reality, as An American Color explains, is that on the surface, New Orleans did have a racial and social system that confounded the more prudent and established black-white binary at work in the social rhetoric of the British-descended states further north. But this was not unique, especially within the United States. As Andrew N. Wegmann argues, New Orleans is representative of a place with different words for the same practices found throughout the North American continent and the Atlantic world. From New Orleans to Charleston and Richmond, the social construction of race remained constant and Atlantic in nature, predicated on a complex, socially infused, multitier system of prescribed racial value that challenged and sometimes abandoned preordained definitions of “black” and “white” for an assortment of fluid but meaningful designations in between. New Orleans is thus an entry point for the study of color in an Atlantic United States.

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Black Americans on the Way to Sainthood: Henriette Delille

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery, United States, Women on 2022-01-18 02:32Z by Steven

Black Americans on the Way to Sainthood: Henriette Delille

St. Charles Borromeo Church
Brooklyn, New York
2021-02-13

Josephine Dongbang

Henriette Delille, (1812-1862), founder of Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
“For the love of Jesus Christ, she had become the humble and devout servant of the slaves.”

Henriette Delille was born in 1812 in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a loving Catholic family. While Henriette was born a free woman, she was descended from an enslaved African woman and white slave owner. Thus, following the tradition of the females in her family, she was groomed to form a monogamous relationship with wealthy white men under the plaçage system. She was trained in French literature, music, and dance, and expected to attend balls to meet men who would enter into such civil unions. Most of these agreements often ended up with the men later marrying white women in “official” marriages and/or abandoning their promises of support for the women and their mixed-race children. As a devout Catholic, Henriette opposed such system, believing it went against the Catholic sacrament of marriage…

Read the entire article here.

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To a Dark Girl

Posted in Biography, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Religion, United States, Videos, Women on 2022-01-12 01:13Z by Steven

To a Dark Girl

North Star
Louisiana Public Broadcasting
Source: Louisiana Digital Media Archive
1985

Contributors:

  • Genevieve Stewart, Host
  • Sister Barbara Marie, Interviewee
  • Leslie Williams, Interviewee
  • Michelle Diaz, Interviewee

This episode of the series “North Star” from 1985 focuses on two intertwined stories related to the history of New Orleans in the 19th century: the quadroon balls held at the Orleans Ballroom, clandestine events where white men met free women of color, who would become their mistresses; the founding of the Sisters of the Holy Family, an African American congregation of Catholic nuns, by Henriette DeLille; and a visit to St. Mary’s Academy, the school run by the Sisters of the Holy Family, which was once located at the Orleans Ballroom. Host: Genevieve Stewart

Watch the video (00:14:20) here.

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Quadroon Balls | LFOLKS (1985)

Posted in History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States, Videos, Women on 2022-01-11 19:26Z by Steven

Quadroon Balls | LFOLKS (1985)

Louisiana Public Broadcasting
2022-01-05

This segment from the February 10, 1985, episode of the series “Folks” features Genevieve Stewart’s report on the history of the quadroon balls in 19th century New Orleans, clandestine events where white men met free women of color, who would become their mistresses. She visits the Orleans Ballroom at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel in the French Quarter, one of the possible sites of the quadroon balls. Stewart also interviews Clive Hardy, the archivist at the University of New Orleans, who discusses his research into the history of the quadroon balls. Host: Rob Hinton

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Pardon for Plessy v. Ferguson’s Homer Plessy is an overdue admission of his heroism

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2022-01-07 02:49Z by Steven

Pardon for Plessy v. Ferguson’s Homer Plessy is an overdue admission of his heroism

MSNBC
2022-01-05

Keisha N. Blain, Associate Professor of History
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

In ruling against Homer Plessy in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized Jim Crow segregation for the next 60 years.
Universal History Archive / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In rejecting Plessy’s argument that the Jim Crow law implied Black people were inferior, the Supreme Court upheld the notion of “separate but equal.”

Homer Plessy, a Creole shoemaker from New Orleans and the plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, was pardoned by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday, 130 years after Plessy challenged a Louisiana law that required Black passengers and white passengers to use separate train cars. The case sanctioned the “separate but equal” doctrine and validated state laws that segregated public facilities along the lines of race. The decision effectively legalized Jim Crow segregation for the next 60 years.

As historian Blair L.M. Kelley explains in “Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019“: “Plessy v. Ferguson was the manifestation of the African American opposition to segregationist attempts to shame and degrade Black train passengers.”

The decision to pardon Homer Plessy is a welcome one, an effort to clear his name and raise national awareness to his story. It is also a symbolic gesture to acknowledge a wrong that took place so long ago. In the proclamation Edwards signed Wednesday, he praised “the heroism and patriotism” of Plessy’s “unselfish sacrifice to advocate for and to demand equality and human dignity for all of Louisiana’s citizens.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Homer Plessy: Pardon for ‘separate but equal’ civil rights figure

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2022-01-06 03:02Z by Steven

Homer Plessy: Pardon for ‘separate but equal’ civil rights figure

BBC News
2022-01-05

Governor Bel Edwards signed the pardon near the site of Plessy’s arrest

The governor of Louisiana has pardoned Homer Plessy, a 19th century black activist whose arrest 130 years ago led to one of the most criticised Supreme Court decisions in US history.

Plessy was arrested in 1892 after he purchased a ticket and refused to leave a whites-only train car in New Orleans.

In 1896, the top US court ruled against Plessy, clearing the way for Jim Crow segregation laws in the American South.

The pardon was spearheaded by the very office that sought charges against him.

After Plessy was removed from the train, his case – Plessy v Ferguson – wound up in front of the Supreme Court. The court ruled that accommodations can exist for different races – a doctrine dubbed “separate but equal“.

Their decision stood for decades, until the landmark 1954 Brown v Board of Education case helped begin to dismantle racial segregation laws..

Read the entire article here.

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I thought I was White until I learned my mother’s secret. The census helped me tell my family story.

Posted in Articles, Biography, Census/Demographics, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-12-27 21:52Z by Steven

I thought I was White until I learned my mother’s secret. The census helped me tell my family story.

The Washington Post
2021-10-13

Gail Lukasik

Gail Lukasik’s mother, Alvera Frederic Kalina, in New Orleans circa 1942. Kalina was born into a Black family in New Orleans but spent her life passing as White. (Family photo)

The first time I was grilled about my racial identity, I’d just given a talk to an all-White audience at a suburban Chicago library.

“What are you, anyway?” a woman asked. Her blunt tone put me on edge.

I’d just related my mother’s story of racial passing. How she and her New Orleans family were designated as “Negro” during the Jim Crow era, how she moved north to Ohio, married my White, bigoted father, and hid her mixed race from him and eventually us. Looking back, there were small clues, like she always wore face makeup, even to bed.

I’d told the audience about my journey of finding my mother’s birth certificate and discovering her racial secret when I was 49, confronting her — and her swearing me to secrecy until her death. Then 18 years later, I found my mother’s lost family, thanks to my appearance on PBS’sGenealogy Roadshow.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A Colored Man Round the World

Posted in Africa, Autobiography, Books, Europe, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2021-11-15 02:58Z by Steven

A Colored Man Round the World

University of Michigan Press
1999 (originally published in 1858)
232 pages
3 drawings.
5-1/2 x 8-1/2
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-472-09694-7
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-472-06694-0

David F. Dorr (ca. 1827-1872)

Edited by:

Malini Johar Schueller, Professor of English
University of Florida

London, Paris, Constantinople, Athens, Cairo and Jerusalem in the 1850s—as seen through the eyes of a former slave

This remarkable book, written by former slave David F. Dorr, published in the mid-nineteenth century and only recently rediscovered, is an uncommon travel narrative. In the 1850s Dorr accompanied Louisiana plantation owner Cornelius Fellowes on a tour of the world’s major cities, with the promise that when they returned to the United States, Dorr would be given his freedom. When that promise was broken, Dorr escaped to Ohio and wrote of his experiences in A Colored Man Round the World.

Malini Johar Schueller has edited and annotated the 1858 text and added a critical introduction that provides a useful context for understanding and appreciating this important but heretofore neglected document. Her edition of A Colored Man Round the World provides a fascinating account of Dorr’s negotiation of the conflicting roles of slave versus man, taking into account all of the racial complexities that existed at the time. As a traveler abroad, Dorr claimed an American selfhood that allowed him mobility in Europe, and he benefited from the privileges accorded American “Orientalists” venturing in the near East. However, any empowerment that Dorr experienced while a tourist vanished upon his return to America.

The book will be welcomed for the rare perspective it provides of the mid-nineteenth century, through the eyes of an African-American slave and for the light it casts on world and U.S. history as well as on questions of racial and national identity.

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Louisiana board votes to pardon Homer Plessy of Plessy v. Ferguson

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2021-11-13 14:41Z by Steven

Louisiana board votes to pardon Homer Plessy of Plessy v. Ferguson

The Washington Post
2021-11-12

Gillian Brockell

Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson, descendants of the principals in the Plessy v. Ferguson court case, in front of a historical marker in New Orleans on June 7, 2011. (Bill Haber/AP)

In the annals of the Supreme Court, the Plessy v. Ferguson case has little competition for the title of Worst Decision in History. Now, 125 years after the shameful decision that codified the Jim Crow-era “separate but equal” fiction, the namesake of that famous case, Homer Plessy, may be pardoned. The Louisiana Board of Pardons unanimously approved a pardon Friday, according to the Associated Press, sending it to Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) for final approval.

Edwards’s press office said the governor was traveling “but looks forward to receiving and reviewing the recommendation of the Board upon his return.”

When Keith Plessy, a descendant of Homer Plessy, heard the news, he felt like his feet “weren’t touching the ground.” He and his friend Phoebe Ferguson, a descendant of the judge in the case, hopped in the car and were driving across New Orleans to the house of another friend — Homer Plessy biographer Keith Weldon Medley — to share the news when they spoke with The Washington Post

Read the entire article here.

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Erasure and Recollection: Memories of Racial Passing

Posted in Anthologies, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-09-29 01:09Z by Steven

Erasure and Recollection: Memories of Racial Passing

Peter Lang
September 2021
366 pages
13 fig. b/w.
Paperback ISBN:978-2-8076-1625-7
ePUB ISBN:978-2-8076-1627-1 (DOI: 10.3726/b18256)

Edited by:

Hélène Charlery, Professor of English Literature
University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, Toulouse, France

Aurélie Guillain, Professor of American Literature
University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, Toulouse, France

Many recent studies of racial passing have emphasized the continuing, almost haunting power of racial segregation even in the post-segregation period in the US, or in the post-apartheid period in South Africa. This “present-ness” of racial passing, the fact that it has not really become “passé,” is noticeable in the great number of testimonies which have been published in the 2000s and 2010s by descendants of individuals who passed for white in the English-speaking world. The sheer number of publications suggest a continuing interest in the kind of relation to the personal and national past which is at stake in the long-delayed revelation of cases of racial passing.

This interest in family memoirs or in fictional works re-tracing the erasure of some relative’s racial identity is by no means limited to the United States: for instance, Zoë Wicomb in South Africa or Zadie Smith in the UK both use the passing novel to unravel the complex situation of mixed-race subjects in relation to their family past and to a national past marked by a history of racial inequality.

Yet, the vast majority of critical approaches to racial passing have so far remained largely focused on the United States and its specific history of race relations. The objective of this volume is twofold: it aims at shedding light on the way texts or films show the work of individual memory and collective recollection as they grapple with a racially divided past, struggling with its legacy or playing with its stereotypes. Our second objective has been to explore the great variety in the forms taken by racial passing depending on the context, which in turn leads to differences in the ways it is remembered. Focusing on how a previously erased racial identity may resurface in the present has enabled us to extend the scope of our study to other countries than the United States, so that this volume hopes to propose some new, transnational directions in the study of racial passing.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction – Hélène Charlery and Aurélie Guillain
  • Part I: Memories of Racial Passing – Reconstructing Local and Personal Histories – From Homer Plessy to Paul Broyard
    • To Pass or Not to Pass in New Orleans – Nathalie Dessens
    • Racial Passing at New Orleans Mardi Gras; From Reconstruction to the Mid- Twentieth Century: Flight of Fancy or Masked Resistance? – Aurélie Godet
    • Passing through New Orleans, Atlanta, and New York City: The Dynamics of Racial Assignation in Walter White’s Flight (1926) – Aurélie Guillain
    • African American Women Activists and Racial Passing: Personal Journeys and Subversive Strategies (1880s– 1920s) – Élise Vallier-Mathieu
  • Part II: Memory, Consciousness and the Fantasy of Amnesia in Passing Novels
    • “What Irene Redfield Remembered”: Making It New in Nella Larsen’s Passing – M. Giulia Fabi
    • Between Fiction and Reality: Passing for Non- Jewish in Multicultural American Fiction – Ohad Reznick
    • Experiments in Passing: Racial Passing in George Schuyler’s Black No More and Arthur Miller’s Focus – Ochem G.l.a. Riesthuis
    • Passing to Disappearance: The Voice/ Body Dichotomy and the Problem of Identity in Richard Powers’s The Time of Our Singing (2004) – Anne-Catherine Bascoul
  • Part III: Memories of Racial Passing within and beyond the United States: Towards a Transnational Approach
    • “The Topsy-Turviness of Being in the Wrong Hemisphere” Transnationalizing the Racial Passing Narrative – Sinéad Moynihan
    • Passing, National Reconciliation and Adolescence in Beneath Clouds (Ivan Sen, 2002) and The Wooden Camera (Ntshaveni Wa Luruli, 2003) – Delphine David and Annael Le Poullennec
    • Transnational Gendered Subjectivity in Passing across the Black Atlantic: Nella Larsen’s Passing, Michelle Cliff ’s Free Enterprise and Zadie Smith’s Swing Time – Kerry-Jane Wallart
  • About the Authors/ Editors
  • Index
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