I Am a Descendant of James Madison and His Slave

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2020-03-22 02:26Z by Steven

I Am a Descendant of James Madison and His Slave

Zora
Medium
2020-03-17

Bettye Kearse


Illustration: Sophia Zarders

My whole life, my mother told me, ‘Always remember — you’re a Madison. You come from African slaves and a president.’

President Madison did not have children with his wife, Dolley. Leading scholars believe he was impotent, infertile, or both. But the stories I have heard since my childhood say that James Madison, a Founding Father of our nation, was also a founding father of my African American family.

In my childhood, whenever I whined or squirmed or got into trouble, my mother repeated the refrain: “Always remember — you’re a Madison. You come from African slaves and a president.” This is my family’s credo, the statement that has guided us for 200 years.

Though many in our family have heard we descend from President Madison and his slaves, only the griots — the one-in-a-generation oral historians in the family — know the full account of our ancestors, White and Black, in America. Gramps had told me many stories, but the detailed family history was Mom’s responsibility to convey to me when I became the next griotte.

The night my mother passed those stories on to me, I understood for the first time why some of the details of our family history were passed only from the griot of one generation to that of the next. Not only were some of the stories intimate, but this tradition safeguarded their accuracy, truth, and longevity. I sank into the sofa with my mother and listened with a new awareness of the significance of her words and what they meant to me. She began…

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The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President’s Black Family

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2020-03-22 02:03Z by Steven

The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President’s Black Family

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2020-03-24
272 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13/EAN: 9781328604392
Hardcover ISBN-10: 132860439X

Bettye Kearse

In The Other Madisons, Bettye Kearse—a descendant of an enslaved cook and, according to oral tradition, President James Madison—shares her family story and explores the issues of legacy, race, and the powerful consequences of telling the whole truth.

For thousands of years, West African griots (men) and griottes (women) have recited the stories of their people. Without this tradition Bettye Kearse would not have known that she is a descendant of President James Madison and his slave, and half-sister, Coreen. In 1990, Bettye became the eighth-generation griotte for her family. Their credo—“Always remember—you’re a Madison. You come from African slaves and a president”—was intended to be a source of pride, but for her, it echoed with abuses of slavery, including rape and incest.

Confronting those abuses, Bettye embarked on a journey of discovery—of her ancestors, the nation, and herself. She learned that wherever African slaves walked, recorded history silenced their voices and buried their footsteps: beside a slave-holding fortress in Ghana; below a federal building in New York City; and under a brick walkway at James Madison’s Virginia plantation. When Bettye tried to confirm the information her ancestors had passed down, she encountered obstacles at every turn.

Part personal quest, part testimony, part historical correction, The Other Madisons is the saga of an extraordinary American family told by a griotte in search of the whole story.

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Black in Appalachia: Project unearths black history

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2020-01-27 18:33Z by Steven

Black in Appalachia: Project unearths black history

The Daily Times: Blount County’s Newspaper of Record Since 1883
Maryville, Tennessee
2020-01-25

Linda Braden Albert, Daily Times Correspondent


Kenson Isom, great-great-grandfather of William Isom II, is pictured with his family. William Isom, director of the Black in Appalachia Project, discovered more about his ancestor’s history while researching a slave cemetery in Virginia.

William Isom II had been searching for his great-great-grandfather, Kelson Isom, for 20 years. He finally broke through the brick wall as a result of his work with the Black in Appalachia Project, researching a slave cemetery in Lee County, Virginia.

“I just so happened to find the record of my great-great-granddad as a slave in Scott County, Virginia,” Isom said. “He was listed as property in a will. The slave owner had died and listed him and his brothers as property in the will. Once you can find the slave owner you can find other records. For me, that was one of the most amazing finds that benefited me personally.”


William Isom II, director of the Black in Appalachia Project, will present a program at 7 p.m. Monday at the Blount County Public Library.

At 7 p.m. Monday, Isom, director of community outreach for East Tennessee PBS and director of Black in Appalachia, will speak about the project at the Blount County Public Library’s next program in its Southern Appalachian Studies Series. Admission is free, and the public is invited to attend…

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UVA and the History of Race: Eugenics, the Racial Integrity Act, Health Disparities

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Virginia on 2020-01-16 03:45Z by Steven

UVA and the History of Race: Eugenics, the Racial Integrity Act, Health Disparities

UVA Today
2020-01-09

P. Preston Reynolds, Professor of Medicine and Nursing
University of Virginia


Thomas Jefferson’s writings included observations about race that aligned with later eugenicists. Under the medical school deanship of Paul Brandon Barringer, right, UVA built its first hospital in 1901, but also continued to advance eugenic science.

Editor’s note: Even an institution as historic as the University of Virginia – now entering its third century – has stories yet to be told. Some are inspiring, while the truths of others are painful, but necessary for a fuller accounting of the past. The President’s Commissions on Slavery and on the University in the Age of Segregation were established to find and tell those stories. Here are some of them, written by those who did the research. One in an occasional series:

By the start of the 20th century, the University of Virginia had become a center of an emerging new strain of racism – eugenics – that would create and perpetuate myths created under the guise of scientific research, but ultimately was intended to demonstrate white racial superiority.

The goal of eugenic science was knowledge of how various traits – emotional, physical, intellectual – were inherited, so that such information could be applied in order to advance the human race and preserve imagined racial superiority. Eugenic scientists used the census, genealogy, measurement of physiological functions and human anatomy, as well as intelligence testing, as methods of investigation.

They believed application of eugenic knowledge, through legislation and community practices, would eliminate mental illness, physical disabilities, moral delinquency, crime and even physical illnesses. They assumed the benefit to society would be a dramatic reduction in the cost of caring for the sick, poor, mentally ill and incarcerated…

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Ep13 – Loving v. Virginia

Posted in Audio, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2019-10-26 02:02Z by Steven

Ep13 – Loving v. Virginia

Salacious History: Sex. Romance. Infamy.
2019-10-16

Sarah Duncan, Host

At 2am on July 11, 1958, Mildred and Richard Loving were ripped from their beds in the middle of the night and thrown in jail. Their crime? Being married to someone of a different race. On today’s show, we get the background on the Lovings’ relationship, a brief history of miscegenation law, and how the Loving’s legal battle changed the United States forever.

Listen to the episode (00:25:26) here. Download the episode here.

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Judge strikes down Virginia race requirement for marriage license as unconstitutional

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2019-10-15 18:56Z by Steven

Judge strikes down Virginia race requirement for marriage license as unconstitutional

The Washington Post
2019-10-11

Rachel Weiner

Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. struck down a Virginia law mandating that marriage license applicants state their race. (Bob Brown/AP)
Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. struck down a Virginia law mandating that marriage license applicants state their race. (Bob Brown/AP)

A federal judge on Friday struck down as unconstitutional a Virginia law requiring people to state their race when applying for a marriage license.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia is naturally rich in its greatest traditions,” Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. wrote in his opinion in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. “But like other institutions, the stain of past mistakes, misgivings and discredited legislative mandates must always survive the scrutiny of our nation’s most important institution . . . The Constitution of the United States of America.”

The law, Alston found, violates the 14th Amendment right to due process. It is one of his first opinions; he was sworn in as a federal judge in August.

“We’re very pleased, of course,” plaintiffs’ attorney Victor M. Glasberg said. “The only unfortunate part is that it took a United States district judge to strike a Jim Crow provision that the state of Virginia insisted on defending in court.”

…He also disputed the contention that there is no “straight line” between a 1924 state law prohibiting interracial marriage and the requirement to choose a race when getting married. On the contrary, in his order he agreed with Glasberg that the law reflected a racist and segregationist past embodied in the first state registrar of vital statistics, a white supremacist named Walter Plecker

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Virginia law requiring couples to disclose race is unconstitutional, judge says

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2019-10-15 01:12Z by Steven

Virginia law requiring couples to disclose race is unconstitutional, judge says

Cable News Network (CNN)
2019-10-14

Theresa Waldrop

Brandyn Churchill and Sophie Rogers, left, and Samuel Sarfo and Ashley Ramkishun sued Virginia over a requirement that race be disclosed in marriage license applications.
Brandyn Churchill and Sophie Rogers, left, and Samuel Sarfo and Ashley Ramkishun sued Virginia over a requirement that race be disclosed in marriage license applications.

(CNN) A federal judge ruled that a Virginia law requiring couples to reveal their race in applying for a marriage license is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit against the Virginia State Registrar and others was filed after three couples said they were denied marriage licenses in the state after they refused to check a box disclosing their race on their applications.

Finding that the statute violates the 14th Amendment, Judge Rossie D. Alston wrote in his ruling Friday that requiring the couples “to disclose their race in order to receive marriage licenses burdens their fundamental right to marry,” Alston wrote.

“(T)he statutory scheme is a vestige of the nation’s and of Virginia’s history of codified racialization,” the judge wrote.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia is naturally rich in its greatest traditions,” Alston wrote. “But like other institutions, that stain of past mistakes, misgivings and discredited legislative mandates must always survive the scrutiny of our nation’s most import institution … the Constitution of the United States of America.”…

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Virginia couples no longer have to disclose race on marriage license applications, state attorney general says

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2019-09-16 19:22Z by Steven

Virginia couples no longer have to disclose race on marriage license applications, state attorney general says

The Washington Post
2019-09-14

Hannah Natanson


Sophie Rogers and Brandyn Churchill, who are getting married on Oct. 19, are shown in this engagement photograph in the Napa Valley. (Christophe Genty/Christophe Genty Photography)

Virginia will no longer require couples to identify by race on their marriage licenses, the state’s attorney general announced this week.

Under a new policy — which Attorney General Mark Herring detailed in emails to court clerks and members of the media late Friday — people getting married will be able to select “Declined to Answer” in a box asking about race. Herring also told clerks they must issue a marriage license “regardless of an applicant’s answer or non-answer to that inquiry.”

The new guidance comes about a week after three couples filed a federal lawsuit alleging the required disclosure of race is unconstitutional because it violates the First, 13th and 14th amendments.

“We were happy to help quickly resolve this issue and get these couples what they asked for,” Herring said in his statement. “These changes will ensure that no Virginian will be forced to label themselves to get married.”…

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‘Aryan’ and ‘Octoroon’: Couples challenge racial labels to get married in Virginia

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2019-09-06 22:15Z by Steven

‘Aryan’ and ‘Octoroon’: Couples challenge racial labels to get married in Virginia

The Washington Post
2019-09-06

Rachel Weiner


Brandyn Churchill and Sophie Rogers are challenging a Virginia requrement to list race when applying for a marriage license. (Christophe Genty/Christophe Genty Photography)

When they applied for a marriage license in Rockbridge County, Va., Brandyn Churchill and Sophie Rogers were told they could not have one unless they each chose a race, from a list that included “Aryan” and “Octoroon.”

The Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage over half a century ago. Yet the mechanism by which that prohibition was enforced remains on the books: a requirement that all would-be newlyweds identify by race. To fill out the form falsely is a felony.

So, weeks away from their planned Oct. 19 wedding at a barn in Fincastle, Va., the couple is challenging the law in Virginia federal court. Joined by two other engaged couples, they argue the law is a racist holdover that has no place in modern marriage.

The suit is part of both efforts to scrape away vestiges of segregation in Virginia and to move away from institutional categorization in both race and gender. The plaintiffs say people should be free in their personal lives to identify by race but shouldn’t be forced to, under the First, 13th and 14th amendments. But the lawsuit raises a more challenging question: Can the government address discrimination without labels created from it?…

Kevin Maillard, a law professor at Syracuse University who has studied interracial marriage, said that while researchers might use the data, “I don’t know what the compelling reason that the state would have in retaining tracking of those categories would be.”

But he was skeptical of an effort to move away from race altogether.

“I think with the deep history of racial strife we have in the United States, these categories are going to remain incredibly important,” Maillard said. “My mother is racially mixed, but she considers herself a black person.”

Civil rights groups rely on government data to investigate inequality in schools and the criminal justice system and challenge voting restrictions.

“We need data on who people are to see if there are patterns,” said Myrna Pérez of the Brennan Center for Justice…

Read the entire article here.

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Birth certificates have always been a weapon for white supremacists

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2019-08-31 20:23Z by Steven

Birth certificates have always been a weapon for white supremacists

The Washington Post
2018-09-11

Susan Pearson, Associate Professor of History
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois


(Bigstock) (ziimmytws/Bigstock)

Policing the color line through vital documents.

The Trump administration’s decision to revive and expand the Bush and Obama-era practice of denying U.S. passports to Latinos born in South Texas should come as no surprise. From his assault on Barack Obama’s citizenship to his allegations that Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists to his promise to institute a Muslim ban, Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that he believes the only true Americans are white.

But long before Trump rode to prominence promoting birtherism, birth certificates were an important instrument for policing the racial boundaries of citizenship. In the Jim Crow era, states used these seemingly innocuous public records to ensure that the rights of citizenship were accessible to white Americans — and no one else.

The best example of this comes from the career of Walter Plecker. Plecker, the state registrar of vital statistics in Virginia from 1912 to 1946, worked with the white-supremacist Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America to persuade the state legislature to pass the 1924 Racial Integrity Act

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