Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and the Question of Race: An Ongoing Debate

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2017-02-19 20:04Z by Steven

Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and the Question of Race: An Ongoing Debate

Journal of American Studies
Volume 37, Number 1 (April, 2003)
pages 99-118
DOI: 10.1017/S0021875803007023

Peter Nicolaisen (1936-2013), Professor of English Emeritus
University of Flensburg, Germany

Not many private relationships in history have received as much press attention in recent years as that between Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings. First alleged in 1802 by the journalist James Callender, who based his account on stories that had been current in Virginia for some years, the affair has since then been debated both in the scholarly community and by the general public to an unparalleled degree. The results of the DNA tests on male descendants of the Jefferson and Hemings families that were published in 1998 have added fuel to the debate. Meanwhile, its focus has shifted. The majority of those who have publicly expressed an opinion on the case, including the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation which owns and administers Monticello, now seem to agree that a sexual relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemings did exist, and that it resulted in a number of children. The questions addressed today primarily concern the implications of the affair. What does the liaison between Jefferson and Sally Hemings mean for our understanding of the man Thomas Jefferson, and how does it affect the accomplishments he has generally been credited with? Given the little we know about her, how do we view Sally Hemings’s role in the relationship, and how do we come to understand her as an individual living out her life in bondage? What, if any, are the consequences the affair has for an evaluation of interracial relationships as they existed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries?…

Read the entire article here.

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Lt. Stephen Atkins Swails

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-02-08 20:48Z by Steven

Lt. Stephen Atkins Swails

Kingstree News
Kingstree, South Carolina
2017-02-07

Cassandra Williams Rush, Special to The News


Lt. Stephen Atkins Swails
Photo by Ronald Walton

Lt. Stephen Atkins Swails, an attorney, a member of the Electoral College, a member of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, was the Mayor of Kingstree. He was born February 23, 1832 in the city of Columbia, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and died May 17, 1900 in the Kingstree.

Swails was biracial and born a free black whose complexion was so light he was often mistaken as white

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Duncan McDonald: Flathead Indian Reservation Leader and Cultural Broker, 1849-1937

Posted in Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation on 2017-02-06 14:51Z by Steven

Duncan McDonald: Flathead Indian Reservation Leader and Cultural Broker, 1849-1937

University of Nebraska Press
2016-03-31
256 pages
28 illustrations, 6 maps, index
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-934594-15-5

Robert Bigart, Librarian Emeritus
Salish Kootenai College, Pablo, Montana

Joseph McDonald, President Emeritus (and grandnephew of Duncan McDonald)
Salish Kootenai College, Pablo, Montana

Duncan McDonald (1849–1937) led a remarkable life as an entrepreneur, tribal leader, historian, and cultural broker on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana. The mixed-blood son of a Hudson’s Bay Company fur trader and a Nez Perce Indian woman, Duncan accompanied the Pend d’Oreille Indians on a buffalo hunt and horse-stealing expedition to the Montana plains during the early 1870s. During the late nineteenth century he was put in charge of Fort Connah, the Hudson’s Bay Company post on the Flathead Indian Reservation, and worked as an independent trader across the northern Rocky Mountains.

Duncan established a hotel and restaurant, among other businesses, on the Flathead Reservation. In 1878 and 1879 he wrote a history of the 1877 Nez Perce Indian War, which was published in a Deer Lodge, Montana, newspaper. Long a thorn in the side of Flathead Indian agents, Duncan was chairman of the Flathead Business Committee between 1909 and 1924 and for many years represented the interests and views of tribal members to the Montana white community.

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‘Hidden’ no more: Katherine Johnson, a black NASA pioneer, finds acclaim at 98

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-02-03 15:02Z by Steven

‘Hidden’ no more: Katherine Johnson, a black NASA pioneer, finds acclaim at 98

The Washington Post
2017-01-27

Victoria St. Martin

Fame has finally found Katherine Johnson — and it only took a half-century, six manned moon landings, a best-selling book and an Oscar-nominated movie.

For more than 30 years, Johnson worked as a NASA mathematician at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., where she played an unseen but pivotal role in the country’s space missions. That she was an African American woman in an almost all-male and white workforce made her career even more remarkable.

Now, three decades after retiring from the agency, Johnson is portrayed by actress Taraji P. Henson in “Hidden Figures,” a film based on a book of the same name. The movie tells how a group of black women — world-class mathematicians all — helped provide NASA with data crucial to the success of the agency’s early spaceflights. “Hidden Figures” was nominated Tuesday for an Academy Award for best picture.

Suddenly Johnson, who will turn 99 in August, finds herself inundated with interview requests, award banquet invitations and people who just want to stop by and shake her hand.

“I’m glad that I’m young enough still to be living and that they are, so they can look and see, ‘That’s who that is,’ ” she said. “And they are as excited as I am.”

For many people, especially African Americans, her tale of overcoming racism and sexism is inspirational…

Read the entire article here.

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Iconic Fine Arts Sculptor Edmonia Lewis Honored In Google Doodle

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-02-03 01:01Z by Steven

Iconic Fine Arts Sculptor Edmonia Lewis Honored In Google Doodle

The Huffington Post
2017-02-01

Zahara Hill, Black Voices Editorial Fellow


Sophie Diao
The artist’s dedication to portraying her African-American and Native-American ancestry separated her from other sculptors. 

Black History Month began with the art of this lesser-known black icon.

In honor of the start of Black History Month on Wednesday, Google Doodle paid tribute to Edmonia Lewis, who is considered to be the first woman of African-American and Native American descent to earn global recognition as a fine arts sculptor.

Lewis, who was born in Greenbush, New York in 1844, is particularly known for sculpting on “The Death of Cleopatra,” which is a graphic but highly praised depiction of the death of the former Egyptian Queen. Google Doodler Sophie Diao told HuffPost she drew the illustration on Google’s homepage in homage to Lewis because she has always been inspired by her work…

Read the entire article here.

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Captain “Hell Roaring” Mike Healy: From American Slave to Arctic Hero

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2017-01-27 15:18Z by Steven

Captain “Hell Roaring” Mike Healy: From American Slave to Arctic Hero

University Press of Florida
2017-04-35
352 pages
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-3368-6
Paper ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-5485-8

Dennis L. Noble, Senior Chief Petty Officer (Retired)
United States Coast Guard

Truman R. Strobridge

Foreword by James C. Bradford and Gene Allen Smith, Series Editors

One of the Coast Guard’s great heroes and the secret he kept hidden

In the late 1880s, many lives in northern and western maritime Alaska rested in the capable hands of Michael A. Healy (1839-1904), through his service to the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service. Healy arrested lawbreakers, put down mutinies aboard merchant ships, fought the smuggling of illegal liquor and firearms, rescued shipwrecked sailors from a harsh and unforgiving environment, brought medical aid to isolated villages, prevented the wholesale slaughter of marine wildlife, and explored unknown waters and lands.

Captain Healy’s dramatic feats in the far north were so widely reported that a New York newspaper once declared him the “most famous man in America.” But Healy hid a secret that contributed to his legacy as a lonely, tragic figure.

In 1896, Healy was brought to trial on charges ranging from conduct unbecoming an officer to endangerment of his vessel for reason of intoxication. As punishment, he was put ashore on half pay with no command and dropped to the bottom of the Captain’s list. Eventually, he again rose to his former high position in the service by the time of his death in 1904. Sixty-seven years later, in 1971, the U.S. Coast Guard learned that Healy was born a slave in Georgia who ran away to sea at age fifteen and spent the rest of his life passing for white.

This is the rare biography that encompasses both sea adventure and the height of human achievement against all odds.

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98-Year-Old NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson: ‘If You Like What You’re Doing, You Will Do Well’

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Videos, Women on 2017-01-19 00:39Z by Steven

98-Year-Old NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson: ‘If You Like What You’re Doing, You Will Do Well’

People
2016-11-04

Caitlin Keating

Katherine Johnson thinks all of her accomplishments over the 98 years she’s been alive are “ordinary.”

But to the rest of the world, they’re anything but.

Johnson, a physicist, space scientist and mathematician graduated from high school at 14-years-old, attended college the very next year and was the first African-American woman to desegregate the graduate school at West Virginia University…

…In 1953, after years of being a teacher, she began working for NASA where she was nicknamed the “human computer.”

Johnson was able to calculate the trajectory for numerous space missions, including for the space flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in space and the trajectory for the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon…

Read the entire interview here.

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Invisibly Black: A Life of George Herriman, Creator of ‘Krazy Kat’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-01-16 21:16Z by Steven

Invisibly Black: A Life of George Herriman, Creator of ‘Krazy Kat’

The New York Times
2017-01-12

Nelson George

KRAZY: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White
By Michael Tisserand
Illustrated. 545 pp. Harper/HarperCollins Publishers. $35.

In our superficially more enlightened age, the phrase “mixed race” has become the accepted term to describe people with parents of different races. In fact the phrase has become a tool of marketers and brand-conscious celebrities to suggest whatever they’re selling is all-inclusive, a living embodiment of diversity. Many take great care in, for example, their Instagram biographies to list their hyphenated backgrounds.

But there are limits to the term’s utility, especially for people with African ancestry. Barack Obama was America’s first mixed-race president. His father was Kenyan and his mother a white woman from Kansas. Yet the tawdry racial history of this Republic demanded that he claim blackness as his primary identity because one drop of black blood has always decided your fate in this country. “Mixed race” notwithstanding, an African heritage in America is never just a cool exotic spice; one taste and it becomes all anyone remembers of the meal.

This rigid attitude toward race is often enforced by black Americans as fiercely as whites. For them the “mixed race” label, when employed by black people with a nonblack parent or grandparents, seems more a transparent attempt to dodge racial pigeonholing than a heartfelt assertion of identity. Jim Crow, which ended officially in the 1960s, has never been completely dismantled. So attempts to escape its grip, while understandable, create resentment in those unable to slip across the racial boundaries.

All of which makes Michael Tisserand’sKrazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White” a fascinating and frustrating biography. Though Herriman’sKrazy Kat” comic strip was admired in his lifetime, it wasn’t until years after his death in 1944 that his vast influence received widespread critical respect. Herriman’s depiction of the tangled relationships among the black cat Krazy, his white mouse tormentor and sometime love interest Ignatz and the bulldog Officer Pupp, set against a desert backdrop in fictional Coconino County (taken from a real area of Arizona), inspired several generations of cartoonists. Charles M. Schulz’sPeanuts,” Ralph Bakshi’sFritz the Cat” and Art Spiegelman’sMaus” all owe a debt to Herriman’s draftsmanship and poetic sense…

Read the entire review here.

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Katherine Johnson, Va. woman at center of ‘Hidden Figures,’ calls calculation ‘piece of cake’

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Virginia, Women on 2017-01-16 02:20Z by Steven

Katherine Johnson, Va. woman at center of ‘Hidden Figures,’ calls calculation ‘piece of cake’

CBS 6, WTVR-TV
Richmond Virginia
2017-01-13

HAMPTON, Va. — It is the untold story that has been hidden in Hampton for decades.

The box office hit “Hidden Figures” highlights the black female mathematicians at NASA who’s brain power helped launch the first Americans into space.

“It feels good,” said 98-year-old former NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson.

Johnson, portrayed in the film by Taraji P. Henson, calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard, the first American in space.  Johnson also confirmed, by hand, the launch calculations for John Glenn, the first American to circle the globe in 1962…

Read the entire article and watch the story here.

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The Boyden affair just got murkier: Salutin

Posted in Articles, Biography, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing on 2017-01-15 22:03Z by Steven

The Boyden affair just got murkier: Salutin

The Toronto Star
2017-01-13

Rick Salutin

Celebrated author agrees to select interviews, insists he never embellished or lied about his heritage, but also offered platitudes versus confronting precise criticisms

I found Joseph Boyden’s interview Wednesday on CBC — in a word rarely called for — unctuous. He surfaced three weeks after saying he wouldn’t deal with questions about his Indigeneity publicly but only in a “speaking circle.” This after filling what he calls “airtime” for 10 years on every form of media.

Now he’s back out there on CBC and in the Globe, though solely with “acceptable” interviewers. APTN, which started all this with a cautious, respectful piece by Jorge Barrera on Boyden’s claims, called it a “PR push.”…

Boyden’s language was strikingly vague for someone who writes literary fiction. He talked about stories told in his family but gave few examples, instead repeatedly calling them “beautiful” and “amazing.” He said Holy Mackerel and Ohmygosh. He denied making things up but host Candy Palmater didn’t push very hard. As she said, they’re friends and “I know it would be a different conversation if we were alone over a glass of wine.” As troublemaker Robert Jago bracingly tweeted: “Candy Palmater. WTF?”…

Read the entire article here.

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