A Dark Inheritance: Blood, Race, and Sex in Colonial Jamaica

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2018-07-19 03:41Z by Steven

A Dark Inheritance: Blood, Race, and Sex in Colonial Jamaica

Yale University Press
2018-08-28
352 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4
25 b/w illus.
Hardcover ISBN: 9780300225556

Brooke N. Newman, Associate Professor of History; Associate Director of the Humanities Research Center
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia

Focusing on Jamaica, Britain’s most valuable colony in the Americas by the mid-eighteenth century, Brooke Newman explores the relationship between racial classifications and the inherited rights and privileges associated with British subject status. Weaving together a diverse range of sources, she shows how colonial racial ideologies rooted in fictions of blood ancestry at once justified permanent, hereditary slavery for Africans and barred members of certain marginalized groups from laying claim to British liberties on the basis of hereditary status.

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Bristol’s new Lord Mayor removes 316-year-old portrait of controversial slave trader Edward Colston… from her office wall and replaces him with a picture of a lion

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2018-07-06 03:33Z by Steven

Bristol’s new Lord Mayor removes 316-year-old portrait of controversial slave trader Edward Colston… from her office wall and replaces him with a picture of a lion

The Daily Mail
2018-06-19

Richard Spillett

Cleo Lake, the Lord Mayor of Bristol, has removed a portrait of Edward Colston from the wall of her office because of his role in the slave trade
Cleo Lake, the Lord Mayor of Bristol, has removed a portrait of Edward Colston from the wall of her office because of his role in the slave trade.
  • Portrait of slave trader Edward Colston has hung in mayor’s office since the 50s
  • But the new mayor has ordered it be removed because she can’t work next to it
  • Colston helped make Bristol a rich city, but his company was behind the trafficking and deaths of thousands of slaves

The Lord Mayor of Bristol has removed a 300-year-old portrait of a slave trader from the wall above her desk.

Cleo Lake said she ‘simply couldn’t stand’ the sight of Edward Colston looking at her as she worked.

The portrait dates back to 1702 and was hung in 1953 when City Hall opened – but Cleo Lake has asked for it to be installed in a museum about the abolition of slavery.

It is the latest move by the city to dissociate themselves from Colston, with venues and schools having previously removed his name from their titles.

Cleo Lake, who describes herself as of Scottish, Bristolian and Afro-Caribbean heritage, was elected in May by fellow councillors…

Read the entire article here.

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The Legacy of Monticello’s Black First Family

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2018-07-06 03:13Z by Steven

The Legacy of Monticello’s Black First Family

The New York Times
2018-07-04

Brent Staples
Photographs by Damon Winter


A view of Thomas Jefferson’s home from the main avenue where enslaved people were quartered at Monticello.

A recently opened exhibit at Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia estate gives new recognition to Sally Hemings and the role of slavery in the home — and in his family.

Plantation wives in the slave-era South resorted to willful blindness when their husbands conscripted black women as sexual servants and filled the household with mixed-race children who inevitably resembled the master. Thomas Jefferson’s wife, Martha, was several years dead when he set off on this path, fathering at least six children with Martha’s enslaved black half sister, Sally Hemings. The task of dissembling fell to the remaining white Jeffersons, who aided in a cover-up that held sway for two centuries and feigned ignorance of a relationship between Jefferson and Hemings that lasted nearly four decades.

The foundation that owns Monticello, Jefferson’s mountaintop home near Charlottesville, Va., broke with this long-running deception last month when it unveiled several new exhibits that underscore the centrality of slavery on the founder’s estate. The most important — in the South Wing, where Sally Hemings once lived — explores the legacy of the enslaved woman whom some historians view as the president’s second wife and who skillfully prevailed on him to free from slavery the four Jefferson-Hemings children who lived into adulthood.

The exhibit underscores the fact that the Jefferson estate was an epicenter of racial mixing in early Virginia, making it impossible to draw clear lines between black and white. It reminds contemporary Americans that slave owners like the Jeffersons often held their own black children, aunts, uncles and cousins in bondage. And it illustrates how enslaved near-white relations used proximity to privilege to demystify whiteness while taking critical measure of the relatives who owned them…

Read the entire article here.

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What Race-Mixture in Colonial Latin American Literature Can Teach Us About Mixed-Race Identity in the United States and the Fantasy of White Supremacy

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-06-30 01:55Z by Steven

What Race-Mixture in Colonial Latin American Literature Can Teach Us About Mixed-Race Identity in the United States and the Fantasy of White Supremacy

Critical Ethnic Studies
Published by University of Minnesota Press
2018-06-29

Monica Styles

IMG_2745.jpg

There is a tendency in the United States to believe mixed-race experiences are exceptional or out of the ordinary because we live in a society that historically silences racial mixture. A recent exhibit at Monticello that highlights the denial of Jefferson’s affair with Sally Hemings is just one high profile example. Contrasting colonial Latin American racial discourses with our own provides a blueprint for understanding erasure of multiracial experiences and white racial anxiety.

Mixture produces people who inhabit what Zadie Smith defines as the “Dream City [or] a place of many voices, where the unified singular self is an illusion. Naturally, Obama was born there. So was I. When your personal multiplicity is printed on your face, in an almost too obviously thematic manner, in your DNA, in your hair and in the neither this nor that beige of your skin -well, anyone can see you come from Dream City.” As a Black biracial woman, I am confronted with frustration from people who struggle with my mixed identity…

Read the entire article here.

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Jefferson’s Monticello finally gives Sally Hemings her place in presidential history

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Women on 2018-06-14 17:00Z by Steven

Jefferson’s Monticello finally gives Sally Hemings her place in presidential history

The Washington Post
2018-06-13

Philip Kennicott, Art and architecture critic


A view of Monticello. (Jack Looney)

You cannot see Thomas Jefferson’s mansion, Monticello, from the small room burrowed into the ground along the south wing of his estate. When the door is closed, you can’t see anything at all, because it is a windowless room, with a low ceiling and damp walls. But this was, very likely, the room inhabited by Sally Hemings, the enslaved woman who bore six of Jefferson’s children, a woman about whom little is known, who lived her life as Jefferson’s property, was considered his concubine, was a source of scandal and a political liability, and yet who might be considered the first lady to the third president of the United States if that didn’t presume her relationship to Jefferson was voluntary.

On Saturday, Monticello will open the room to the public, with a small exhibition devoted to the life of Hemings and the Hemings family. Reclaiming this space, which previously had been used as a public restroom, marks the completion of a five-year plan called the Mountaintop Project, which has seen significant changes to the beloved estate of the founding father. Using archaeology and other evidence, Monticello curators have restored Mulberry Row, where enslaved people lived and labored, and made changes (including to the wallpaper, paint and furnishings) inside the mansion, restored the north and south wings, and opened the upstairs rooms to the public on special tours. But symbolically and emotionally, the restoration of the Hemings room is the heart of the new interpretation of Monticello, and it makes tangible a relationship that has been controversial since rumors of “Dusky Sally” became part of American political invective in the early 19th century…

Read the entire article here.

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Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave, Written by Himself

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2018-06-06 19:37Z by Steven

Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave, Written by Himself

University of North Carolina Press
June 2018 (Originally published in 1849)
156 pages
6 x 9, 18 halftones
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-4758-6

Henry Bibb (1815-1854)

Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave, Written by Himself

A DocSouth Book, Distributed for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

Henry Bibb (1815-1854) was born to an enslaved woman named Mildred Jackson in Shelby County, Kentucky. His father was a state senator who never acknowledged him. His narrative documents his persistent attempts to escape to freedom, beginning at age ten, offering an insider’s view of the degradation and varieties of slavery as well as its bitter legacies within families. Having finally settled in Detroit in 1842, Bibb joined the abolitionist lecture circuit and lived the rest of his days as a well-known African American activist who believed that Canada might offer a haven for the formerly enslaved.

Bibb’s autobiography, Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave, was published in 1849. Scholars have pointed out that Bibb’s narrative has several distinguishing features among the larger body of slave narratives. Unusually, Bibb survived enslavement in the Deep South and later described it, and his narrative offers documentation of African folkways including conjuring and an account of Native American slaveholding practices as well. Henry Bibb was above all resilient and determined to achieve freedom for himself and others. Unwilling to abandon those he loved, he risked recapture several times to free them from enslavement, too. In the small span of his thirty-nine years he would live to be reunited with three of his brothers who had fled to Canada.

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Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2018-05-20 00:37Z by Steven

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Simon & Schuster
2018-10-02
864 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781416590316

David W. Blight, Class of 1954 Professor of American History; Professor of African-American and American Studies; Director, Gilder Lehrman Center
Yale University

The definitive, dramatic biography of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.

As a young man Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. He wrote three versions of his autobiography over the course of his lifetime and published his own newspaper. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery.

Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, often to large crowds, using his own story to condemn slavery. He broke with Garrison to become a political abolitionist, a Republican, and eventually a Lincoln supporter. By the Civil War and during Reconstruction, Douglass became the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation. He denounced the premature end of Reconstruction and the emerging Jim Crow era. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot. He sometimes argued politically with younger African-Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights.

In this remarkable biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers. Blight tells the fascinating story of Douglass’s two marriages and his complex extended family. Douglass was not only an astonishing man of words, but a thinker steeped in Biblical story and theology. There has not been a major biography of Douglass in a quarter century. David Blight’s Frederick Douglass affords this important American the distinguished biography he deserves.

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Enterprising Women: Gender, Race, and Power in the Revolutionary Atlantic

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United Kingdom, Women on 2018-04-29 20:41Z by Steven

Enterprising Women: Gender, Race, and Power in the Revolutionary Atlantic

University of Georgia Press
2015-01-15
240 pages
Trim size: 6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8203-4455-3
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8203-5387-6

Kit Candlin, Lecturer
School of Humanities and Social Science
The University of Newcastle, Australia

Cassandra Pybus, Professor of History
University of Sydney

Recovered histories of entrepreneurial women of color from the Caribbean

In the Caribbean colony of Grenada in 1797, Dorothy Thomas signed the manumission documents for her elderly slave Betty. Thomas owned dozens of slaves and was well on her way to amassing the fortune that would make her the richest black resident in the nearby colony of Demerara. What made the transaction notable was that Betty was Dorothy Thomas’s mother and that fifteen years earlier Dorothy had purchased her own freedom and that of her children. Although she was just one remove from bondage, Dorothy Thomas managed to become so rich and powerful that she was known as the Queen of Demerara.

Dorothy Thomas’s story is but one of the remarkable acounts of pluck and courage recovered in Enterprising Women. As the microbiographies in this book reveal, free women of color in Britain’s Caribbean colonies were not merely the dependent concubines of the white male elite, as is commonly assumed. In the capricious world of the slave colonies during the age of revolutions, some of them were able to rise to dizzying heights of success. These highly entrepreneurial women exercised remarkable mobility and developed extensive commercial and kinship connections in the metropolitan heart of empire while raising well-educated children who were able to penetrate deep into British life.

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The real history behind Mary Ellen Pleasant, San Francisco’s “voodoo queen”

Posted in Articles, Audio, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States, Women on 2018-04-24 02:04Z by Steven

The real history behind Mary Ellen Pleasant, San Francisco’s “voodoo queen”

KALW Local Public Radio, 91.7 FM
San Francisco, California
2015-09-09

Olivia Cueva & Liza Veale


Performer Susheel Bibbs poses in front of an image of Mary Ellen Pleasant.
Photograph by Olivia Cueva

In the mid-1800s, boomtown San Francisco was a city of men — only about 15 percent women. While slavery was illegal in California, white men were the ones cashing out on the boom. Mostly.

Then there was Mary Ellen Pleasant. She was one of the richest and most powerful people in the state — and she was a black woman. In fact she was a freedom fighter; her nickname was “Black City Hall.”

Yet today, Pleasant is barely remembered. The story that does get told is a mythologized tale about San Francisco’s so-called “voodoo queen.”

Why did this extraordinary woman fall from the city’s graces, left to haunt its history as the voodoo queen? We start at the last stop on a city tour called the San Francisco Ghost Hunt.

The tour brings you to the corner of Octavia and Bush streets, where Mary Ellen Pleasant’s mansion once stood. Six huge eucalyptus trees tower above the spot. Pleasant planted them herself over a hundred years ago.

Jim Fassbinder guides the tour. He tells a tale that he admits is not quite fact, not quite fiction.

He says Pleasant had power over San Franciscans because she practiced “voodoo.” He says some claim she was responsible for the death of four people, including her longtime business partner. Rumor has it her servant “found Mary Ellen pulling apart the bones of his head and picking out bits of his brain,” says Fassbinder.

As the story goes, she’s haunted this corner ever since the day she died. But the story’s been mangled by history. What really happened?

“It still is a mystery,” says Susheel Bibbs, “Her life is still a mystery.”

Bibbs has been studying Pleasant for over 20 years. She says part of the reason it’s so hard to distinguish fact from fiction is because Pleasant herself never kept her story straight.

“It was ingrained from the very beginning that survival meant that you don’t tell. You just keep secrets,” Bibbs says.

By best accounts, Pleasant was born on a plantation in Georgia. Once she was freed as a young girl, she began falsifying her identity. Slavery was still alive and well, so she needed to protect herself from law enforcement.

“If they decided she was an escaped slave and she had no freedom papers, they could just wrest her off the streets and back into slavery,” Bibbs says.

Her skin was fair enough to pass, so when she docked in San Francisco in 1852, she arrived as a white woman

Read entire story here. Listen to the story (00:08:37) here.

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Dear Grandpa Massa: An Open Letter to my White Ancestor for Confederate Memorial Day

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-04-24 01:44Z by Steven

Dear Grandpa Massa: An Open Letter to my White Ancestor for Confederate Memorial Day

Afroculinaria: Exploring Culinary Traditions of Africa, African America and the African Diaspora
2018-04-23

Michael W. Twitty, African American-Jewish Culinary Historian and Author

To: Captain Richard Henry Bellamy—
From: Your Descendant, Mr. Michael W. Twitty, a published author
Date: 4/23/2018, Confederate Memorial Day
Subject: Times Have Changed

You are my third great grandfather. You are white. Because of you and several others I am Viking, I am Celt, I am a melting pot of western, northern, southern and eastern Europe. But I am still Black, your society made those rules, not mine, but its okay because I’m proud to be Black no matter how you intended it to work against my favor. And despite you, I am Asante, Serer, Fula, Mandinka, Yoruba, Igbo, Kongo and Malagasy.

You and your father William held in bondage my great great great grandmother Arrye and her sons—one of her sons married your daughter a girl child born to a teenage girl you took advantage of from the nearby Chadwick plantation.

You were a deadbeat dad; what’s worse is that there were thousands like you that led to millions like me. Thanks to the miracle of DNA research, oral history has been confirmed sans Maury–you are the father…

Read the entire letter here.

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