Overlooked No More: Elizabeth A. Gloucester, ‘Richest’ Black Woman and Ally of John Brown

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2022-01-11 18:12Z by Steven

Overlooked No More: Elizabeth A. Gloucester, ‘Richest’ Black Woman and Ally of John Brown

The New York Times
2019-09-18

Steve Bell, Senior Staff Editor

Elizabeth Gloucester amassed a fortune from running more than 15 boardinghouses, including the Remsen House in Brooklyn, which drew an elite clientele.

Overlooked is a series of obituaries about remarkable people whose deaths, beginning in 1851, went unreported in The Times.

She ran boardinghouses whose lodgers included members of New York’s elite, raised money for an orphan asylum and was active in the abolitionists’ cause.

With a fortune built largely from operating boarding homes in Brooklyn and beyond, Elizabeth A. Gloucester was considered by many to be the richest black woman in America at her death at age 66 on Aug. 9, 1883.

Attending her funeral was “a congregation of people such as has seldom come together,” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, made up of “richly dressed white ladies, fashionably attired gentlemen and a number of well-known colored people.”

Whether her fortune of about $300,000 (the equivalent of about $7 million today) actually made her the nation’s wealthiest black woman may be impossible to prove. Some white women were much richer; the financial whiz Hetty Green was then building a net worth that might rival or exceed that held by President Trump today.

But Gloucester was notable for more than just her money. She was linked — for a time dangerously so — to the antislavery firebrand John Brown, whom some blamed for leading the nation into the Civil War. She also led efforts to raise money for New York’s Colored Orphan Asylum, which would be set afire in the deadly draft riots of 1863. In her final year she even managed to land a cameo role in a high-society scandal that made headlines across the country…

Read the entire article here.

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Mirror Girls

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Novels, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-01-05 03:17Z by Steven

Mirror Girls

Little, Brown Young Readers
2022-02-08
304 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9780759553859
eBook ISBN-13: 9780759553859
Audiobook ISBN-13: 9781549165962

Kelly McWilliams

A thrilling gothic horror novel about biracial twin sisters separated at birth, perfect for fans of Lovecraft Country and The Vanishing Half

As infants, twin sisters Charlie Yates and Magnolia Heathwood were secretly separated after the brutal lynching of their parents, who died for loving across the color line. Now, at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, Charlie is a young Black organizer in Harlem, while white-passing Magnolia is the heiress to a cotton plantation in rural Georgia.

Magnolia knows nothing of her racial heritage, but secrets are hard to keep in a town haunted by the ghosts of its slave-holding past. When Magnolia finally learns the truth, her reflection mysteriously disappears from mirrors—the sign of a terrible curse. Meanwhile, in Harlem, Charlie’s beloved grandmother falls ill. Her final wish is to be buried back home in Georgia—and, unbeknownst to Charlie, to see her long-lost granddaughter, Magnolia Heathwood, one last time. So Charlie travels into the Deep South, confronting the land of her worst nightmares—and Jim Crow segregation.

The sisters reunite as teenagers in the deeply haunted town of Eureka, Georgia, where ghosts linger centuries after their time and dangers lurk behind every mirror. They couldn’t be more different, but they will need each other to put the hauntings of the past to rest, to break the mirrors’ deadly curse—and to discover the meaning of sisterhood in a racially divided land.

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These NYC kids have written the history of an overlooked Black female composer

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-12-03 20:11Z by Steven

These NYC kids have written the history of an overlooked Black female composer

National Public Radio
2021-12-02

Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR Arts Desk

Three of the student authors of Who Is Florence Price? (left to right: Sebastián Núñez, Hazel Peebles and Sophia Shao), joined by their English teacher, Shannon Potts.
Courtesy of Special Music School

For decades, it was almost impossible to hear a piece of music written by Florence Price. Price was a Black, female composer who died in 1953. But a group of New York City middle school students had the opportunity to quite literally write Florence Price’s history. Their book, titled Who Is Florence Price?, is now out and available in stores.

The kids attend Special Music School, a K-12 public school in Manhattan that teaches high-level music instruction alongside academics. Shannon Potts is an English teacher there.

“Our children are musicians, so whether or not we intentionally draw it together, they bring music into the classroom every day in the most delightful ways,” Potts says. “So if you’re talking about themes and poetry, immediately a child will qualify it with the way that a theme repeats in music.”

Potts assigned her sixth, seventh and eighth grade students to study Florence Price — a composer born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1887. She was the first Black woman to have her music played by a major American orchestra: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed her Symphony No. 1 in 1933 and her Piano Concerto in One Movement the next year. In 1939, at her famed Lincoln Memorial concert, the contralto Marian Anderson included Price’s arrangement of the spiritual “My Soul Is Anchored in the Lord.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Passing into Film: Rebecca Hall’s Adaptation of Nella Larsen

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-12-03 15:18Z by Steven

Passing into Film: Rebecca Hall’s Adaptation of Nella Larsen

Modernism/modernity
Volume 6, Cycle 2 (2021-11-10)

Rafael Walker, Assistant Professor of English
Baruch College, City University of New York

Fig. 1. Promotional poster for Rebecca Hall’s Passing (2021). Image via IMDB.

Director Rebecca Hall’s recent adaptation of Nella Larsen’s exquisite second novel, Passing (1929), is visually stunning. I had the pleasure of seeing the film on the big screen, during its limited theatrical run and before its Netflix release. It was the ideal atmosphere for absorbing this cinematic rendering of Larsen’s eerie, anxiety-ridden plot: ensconced with a sparse audience (my companion and I comprising two of the four patrons for the 5:10pm showing) in a small independent theater in Manhattan, just a few miles from where the story is set, and with Halloween everywhere looming on this late-October evening.1

These qualities of the novel were only enhanced by Hall’s decision to film it in black and white, a daring choice that she, a first-time filmmaker, had to fight for, as Alexandra Kleeman of the New York Times reports. On the one hand, this artistic decision conjures all the nervous palpitations that Hitchcock made synonymous with black-and-white mise-en-scène, maintaining the unshakable uneasiness one experiences while reading Larsen’s novel. On the other, it hurls the either-or terms of Jim Crow racial binarism into conflict with a predominating grayscale—an all-pervading sign of the fictionality of the dichotomizations structuring American culture. Nothing could be more in the spirit of Nella Larsen’s novel. I suspect, however, that Hall’s departures from the source text will attract the attention of modernists far more than her convergences…

Read the entire review here.

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Blurring the Lines: James Parker Barnett, Racial Passing, and Invisible Early Black Students at Columbia University

Posted in Articles, Biography, Campus Life, Census/Demographics, History, Law, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2021-11-15 22:01Z by Steven

Blurring the Lines: James Parker Barnett, Racial Passing, and Invisible Early Black Students at Columbia University

Columbia University and Slavery
Columbia University, New York, New York
2018

Ciara Keane

Discussions of racial passing have never been simple, as racial passing involves the traversing of social systems and the manipulation of power structures in a way that is often unsettling. Racial passing, according to Randall Kennedy, is a “deception that enables a person to adopt certain roles or identities from which he would be barred by prevailing social standards in the absence of his misleading conduct”.1 The most typical form of passing that has historically occurred in the United States is that of a black person passing as a white person; in other words, a person who has black ancestry that would societally deem him to be black moving throughout society identifying and performing as a white person. It is important to distinguish between a passer and a person who is not aware of their racial ancestry; while a passer is actively cognizant of their background and intentionally living as another race, many individuals are simply unaware of their race and fully believe themselves to be of the race they are living as, even though the facts of their racial ancestry would classify them as a different race than the one they identify as.2 The reasons for racial passing vary, but individuals usually decide to pass in order to reap the benefits that come with being of the race they are passing as. For example, a person may pass in order to access better job prospects, receive a higher level of education, or to occupy any other space that was typically off limits for their race.3

In a society like that of the United States which exists as a social hierarchy stratified by race and class, racial passers have been considered a significant threat to the structures that uphold white supremacy. For white people in America, “the core of ‘the American national character’ was a denial of legitimacy and privilege based exclusively on descent”.4 In other words, American society was and is inherently structured based on the hoarding of privilege by the white race and the denial of this privilege to minority groups, which above all applies to African-Americans. Therefore, minorities who pass as white pose a grave threat to the maintenance of this structure, as the act of passing blurs the barrier between the privileged elite and the oppressed. Although the infamous one-drop rule was not formally adopted until the 1920s5, the American South’s desire to hold onto the racial caste created by slavery led the entire nation to spend the years of 1850 to 1915 “turning from a society in which some blackness in a person might be overlooked to one in which no single iota of color was excused”.6 States like North Carolina and Virginia had laws prior to the solidification of the one-drop rule within the 18th and 19th century that defined as white those with less than one-fourth, one-eighth, or one-sixteenth African “blood”, but these rules were always overridden by rules of slavery which could deem even a person with one-sixty-fourth black “blood” to be black if their mother was a slave.7 By time the one-drop rule was written into law, which classified a person as black if they had any hint of African “blood” no matter how small and no matter their phenotypical appearance, any advantage that Mulattos may have enjoyed post-slavery that elevated them slightly above Black people without any white “blood” had long disappeared, and Mulattoes had been solidified as indistinguishable from any other member of the black race.8

Read the entire article here.

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Rhinelander v Rhinelander: The 1920s Race & Sex Scandal You’ve Never Head Of

Posted in History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Videos, Women on 2021-11-13 03:39Z by Steven

Rhinelander v Rhinelander: The 1920s Race & Sex Scandal You’ve Never Head Of

Melina Pendulum
2021-04-05

Many people are familiar with Loving v Virginia the Supreme Court case that made interracial relationships legal in the United States. However, there is a much lesser-known court case that dealt with interracial marriage many years before in New York City: Rhinelander v Rhinelander.

Basically, the anti-Harry and Meghan

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Kinship of Clover, a Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2021-11-11 22:17Z by Steven

Kinship of Clover, A Novel

Red Hen Press
2017-04-04
272 pages
5.5 x 0.75 x 8.5 inches
Paperback ISBN: 9781597093811

Ellen Meeropol

He was nine when the vines first wrapped themselves around him and burrowed into his skin. Now a college botany major, Jeremy is desperately looking for a way to listen to the plants and stave off their extinction. But when the grip of the vines becomes too intense and Health Services starts asking questions, he flees to Brooklyn, where fate puts him face to face with a group of climate-justice activists who assure him they have a plan to save the planet, and his plants. As the group readies itself to make a big Earth Day splash, Jeremy soon realizes these eco-terrorists’ devotion to activism might have him–and those closest to him–tangled up in more trouble than he was prepared to face. With the help of a determined, differently abled flame from his childhood, Zoe; her deteriorating, once-rabble-rousing grandmother; and some shocking and illuminating revelations from the past, Jeremy must weigh completing his mission to save the plants against protecting the ones he loves, and confront the most critical question of all: how do you stay true to the people you care about while trying to change the world?

From the author of House Arrest and On Hurricane Island comes a thrilling new activist novel that begs the question, “How far is too far?”

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Passing

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-11-11 21:43Z by Steven

Passing

Signet Classics (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
2021-07-06 (Originally published in 1929)
176 Pages
4-3/16 x 6-3/4
Paperback ISBN: 9780593437841
Ebook ISBN: 9780593439074

Nella Larsen (1891–1964)

Introduction by Brit Bennett

Nella Larsen’s fascinating exploration of race and identity—the inspiration for the Netflix film directed by Rebecca Hall, starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga.

This Signet Classics edition of Passing includes an Introduction by Brit Bennett, the bestselling author of The Vanishing Half.

Irene Redfield is a Black woman living an affluent, comfortable life with her husband and children in the thriving neighborhood of Harlem in the 1920s. When she reconnects with her childhood friend Clare Kendry, who is similarly light-skinned, Irene discovers that Clare has been passing for a white woman after severing ties to her past—even hiding the truth from her racist husband.

Clare finds herself drawn to Irene’s sense of ease and security with her Black identity and longs for the community (and, increasingly, the woman) she lost. Irene is both riveted and repulsed by Clare and her dangerous secret, as Clare begins to insert herself—and her deception—into every part of Irene’s stable existence. First published in 1929, Larsen’s brilliant examination of the various ways in which we all seek to “pass,” is as timely as ever.

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Book Talk-Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multi-Racial Jewish Family

Posted in Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Interviews, Judaism, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, Slavery, United Kingdom, United States, Videos on 2021-10-25 17:39Z by Steven

Book Talk-Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multi-Racial Jewish Family

American Jewish Historical Society
2021-08-04

Author Laura Arnold Leibman discusses her new book with Gender and Jewish Studies Professor, Samira K. Mehta. Hear how family heirlooms were used to unlock the mystery of the Moses’s Family ancestors in, Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multiracial Jewish Family.

Tracing an extraordinary journey throughout the Atlantic World, Leibman examines artifacts left behind in Barbados, Suriname, London, Philadelphia, and New York, to show how Sarah and Isaac Moses were able to transform themselves and their lives, becoming free, wealthy, Jewish, and—at times—white. While their affluence made them unusual, their story mirrors that of the largely forgotten population of mixed African and Jewish ancestry that constituted as much as ten percent of the Jewish communities in which the siblings lived.

Watch the video (00:56:47) here.

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Born into slavery, they rose to be elite New York Jews. A new book tells their story.

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Interviews, Judaism, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2021-10-08 14:05Z by Steven

Born into slavery, they rose to be elite New York Jews. A new book tells their story.

Religion News Service
2021-10-05

Yonat Shimron, National Reporter and Senior Editor


Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multiracial Jewish Family” and author Laura Arnold Leibman. Courtesy images

In her new book, ‘Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multiracial Jewish Family,’ Laura Arnold Leibman shows that Jews were not only slave owners. They were also slaves.

(RNS) — Jews are proud of the biblical story from Exodus that recounts their deliverance from slavery in Egypt in the third century B.C.

But few U.S. Jews consider that some of their ancestors were slaves in the trans-Atlantic slave trade that ended in the 19th century.

In her new book, “Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multiracial Jewish Family,” Laura Arnold Leibman, a Reed College English professor, conclusively shows that Jews, who were typically thought of as white, were not only slave owners. They were also slaves.

Leibman does this by excavating the genealogies of Sarah and Isaac Lopez Brandon, siblings born in the late 18th century to a wealthy Barbadian Jewish businessman and an enslaved woman. The siblings eventually made it New York, where they were able to pass as white. They became accomplished and affluent members of New York City’s oldest Jewish congregation, Shearith Israel.

Sarah and Isaac’s father, Abraham Rodriguez Brandon, was a Sephardic Jew who traced his ancestry to the expulsion of Jews from Spain. He settled in Barbados as part of a Jewish community of between 400 and 500 families that worked on the island’s sugar plantations and refineries.

Brandon secured his children’s manumission fees, and in 1801 they became “free mulattos.” In Barbados, that still meant they could not vote or hold office, or for that matter be married in the island’s synagogue or buried in its cemetery.

But America was kinder to them. Both Sarah and Isaac immigrated to America and married into prominent and wealthy U.S. Jewish families while hiding their past. One granddaughter had no clue about their origins.

Religion News Service talked to Leibman about her discovery of the Brandon genealogy and what it means for the U.S. Jewish community to grapple with its multiracial past and present. The interview was edited for length and clarity…

Read the entire interview here.

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