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.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Setting the Record Straight On The Case of Loving V. Virginia

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2020-10-28 20:42Z by Steven

Setting the Record Straight On The Case of Loving V. Virginia

Medium
2020-10-25

Arica L. Coleman, Ph.D.


Mildred and Richard Loving. Courtesy of Getty Image.

The recent death of Bernard Cohen, one of the lawyers who represented the plaintiffs Richard and Mildred Loving in the landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, which overturned proscriptions against interracial marriage in the United States in 1967, has once again thrust the case back into the headlines. In 1958, Richard Loving a “white” man, and Mildred Jeter a “colored” woman, violated several Virginia codes when they married in the District of Columbia, where interracial marriage was legal, and afterward returned to their home in Caroline Country, Virginia, where interracial marriage was illegal, to live as husband and wife. The couple was taken to jail, tried for the crime of being married, and then banished from Virginia for 25 years.

Fittingly, the 86 year old Cohen who this month of Parkinson’s Disease has been eulogized for cementing his place in American legal history at the young age of thirty-three when he and his co-counsel Philip Hirschkop rocked the Supreme Court with a two-pronged legal argument against state-imposed anti- interracial marriage laws which included a poignant direct quote from Richard Loving who told the attorneys, “Tell the court I love my life, and it is just unfair that I cannot live with her in Virginia.” The Court unanimously agreed.

Yet, in recounting the events which led up to the couple’s triumphant victory of love over hate, the storyline in these accounts follows the popular narrative of the Loving story. But there is more to this case than many have supposed. This article highlights a few unknown facts and debunks some myths about this historic case…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Bernard Cohen, Lawyer in Landmark Mixed-Marriage Case, Dies at 86

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2020-10-28 20:31Z by Steven

Bernard Cohen, Lawyer in Landmark Mixed-Marriage Case, Dies at 86

The New York Times
2020-10-15

Neil Genzlinger


Bernard S. Cohen, left, and Philip J. Hirschkop, co-counsels in Loving v. Virginia. The Supreme Court’s landmark unanimous ruling in that case in 1967 struck down bans on interracial marriage. Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images

With Philip J. Hirschkop, he brought Loving v. Virginia to the Supreme Court, which struck down laws against interracial marriages.

“Dear Sir,” began the letter from Washington that found its way to Bernard S. Cohen at the American Civil Liberties Union in June 1963. “I am writing to you concerning a problem we have. Five years ago my husband and I were married here in the District. We then returned to Virginia to live. My husband is white, and I am part Negro and part Indian.”

The letter, from Mildred Loving, went on to explain that when she and her husband, Richard, returned to Caroline County, Va., to live, they were charged with violating Virginia’s law against mixed-race marriages and exiled from the state.

“It was that simple letter that got us into this not-so-simple case,” Mr. Cohen said later. The not-so-simple case was Loving v. Virginia, which Mr. Cohen and his co-counsel, Philip J. Hirschkop, eventually took to the Supreme Court. In a landmark unanimous ruling in 1967, the court said that laws banning interracial marriage, which were in effect in a number of states, mostly in the South, were unconstitutional.

Mr. Cohen died on Monday at an assisted-living center in Fredericksburg, Va. He was 86…

Read the entire obituary here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to replace Norfolk’s Confederate monument? One idea is to honor interracial marriage pioneers.

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Virginia on 2020-09-12 21:57Z by Steven

How to replace Norfolk’s Confederate monument? One idea is to honor interracial marriage pioneers.

The Virginian-Pilot
Norfolk, Virginia
2020-07-07

Ryan Murphy


Sean and Silena Chapman, with their 6-week-old son Kevin, support erecting a statue honoring the Lovings, the couple who successfully challenged Virginia’s interracial marriage ban in the 1960s, where Norfolk’s Confederate monument stood. As seen Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (Stephen M. Katz/The Virginian-Pilot)

It’s June 12, 2020.

It’s been almost three weeks since Silena and Sean Chapman brought home their third baby, Kevin.

Silena, a doctor who specializes in caring for sick and premature infants, is full of energy and says she’s always getting into some idea or another.

Sean is reserved and gentle. He spends most of his days taking care of their two other young children. He’s getting ready to start a woodworking business out of the Chesapeake couple’s Great Bridge garage.

Early that morning in downtown Norfolk, a crane removes 16-foot-tall Johnny Reb, the bronze Confederate soldier who sat atop a city monument for 113 years.

Silena knows the statue well. She lived for years on College Place, just a few blocks from it…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Born into Slavery, Joshua Johnson Became the First Black Professional Artist in the United States

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2020-07-17 21:06Z by Steven

Born into Slavery, Joshua Johnson Became the First Black Professional Artist in the United States

Artsy
2020-07-16

Jaelynn Walls, Curator and Writer
Houston, Texas


Joshua Johnson
Family Group, ca. 1800
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Historians know woefully little about Joshua Johnson, the first professional African American artist to work in the United States. An active painter in Maryland and Virginia from roughly the 1790s to 1825, Johnson was all but forgotten until the middle of the 20th century. In 1939, Baltimore genealogist and art historian J. Hall Pleasants attributed 13 paintings to Johnson and began the long journey of reconstructing his career through scraps of often contradictory information. Even the artist’s last name is uncertain, and many art historians are still debating whether it was spelled “Johnson” or “Johnston.”

Johnson was born into slavery in mid-18th-century Maryland to a white man and a Black slave woman owned by William Wheeler Sr. Chattel records note his race as mulatto, though Maryland had no legal definition for what constituted “Black” versus “mixed race” at the time. Pleasants located documents variously describing Johnson as a slave, a slave trained as a blacksmith, a Black servant afflicted with consumption, and an immigrant from the West Indies.

While much of Johnson’s history remains mysterious, his special place in art history is assured. The next renowned African American artists to emerge in the United States, Robert S. Duncanson and Henry Ossawa Tanner, followed Johnson by decades…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

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.

Tags: , ,

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…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,