“Where a Man is a Man”?: Ancestral Possibilities in Charles Chesnutt’s Paul Marchand, F.M.C.

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-08-06 18:46Z by Steven

“Where a Man is a Man”?: Ancestral Possibilities in Charles Chesnutt’s Paul Marchand, F.M.C.

African American Review
Volume 46, Numbers 2-3, Summer/Fall 2013
pages 397-411
DOI: 10.1353/afa.2013.0048

Susan M. Marren, Associate Professor
University of Arkansas

This essay reads Charles Chesnutt’s Paul Marchand, F.M.C. not as a historical romance (as Chesnutt’s contemporaneous publishers deemed it) but rather as a peculiarly modernist passing novel. It argues that the novel’s hybrid possibilities stage a confrontation between an eighteenth-century standard of impartial “right reason” and the racially pluralistic world of nineteenth-century New Orleans.

Tags: , , , , ,

Search through own heritage leads evangelist to story about enslaved mixed-race pastor

Posted in Articles, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2014-06-18 19:50Z by Steven

Search through own heritage leads evangelist to story about enslaved mixed-race pastor

The Advocate
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
2014-06-16

Mark H. Hunter, Special to The Advocate

If local school district officials knew then what Sammy Tippit knows now, he might not have been allowed to attend Istrouma High School.

Tippit, 66, is a world-renowned evangelist who grew up in Baton Rouge and now lives in San Antonio. He was a prominent Istrouma High student government leader and proudly represented the Indians at statewide high school meetings and debates.

“I truly am an Istrouma Indian,” Tippit said with a big smile and a twinkle in his blue eyes. And he means that in more ways than one.

As a youthful “Jesus freak” in the late 1960s, he boldly preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in dangerous nightclubs on the west side of the Mississippi River. He was arrested and deported from Communist Romania and risked arrest in the Soviet Union for preaching in underground churches in the 1970s and ’80s.

Just a few months ago, Tippit said, he preached in Pakistan where a large portion of the 10,000-member audience — many of them Muslim men, — prayed for salvation in Jesus Christ. A suicide bomber, perhaps on his way to the service, exploded a few blocks away.

But one of Tippit’s most unnerving experiences came 10 years ago when a man in Portugal, researching his own family roots, told him they were related by Native American blood going back to Revolutionary War times.

“All of a sudden I didn’t know who I was,” Tippit said during an interview at a local coffee shop. “I have fair skin and blue eyes, but my bloodline is a mixture of English, Native American and African.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Louisiana Ordered to Provide Voucher Data to U.S.

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Louisiana, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-04-09 23:01Z by Steven

Louisiana Ordered to Provide Voucher Data to U.S.

Education Week
2014-4-09

Mark Walsh, Contributing Writer

A federal judge has ordered Louisiana to provide annual data to the federal government on the students participating in the state’s private school voucher program.

The April 7 order by U.S. District Judge Ivan R. Lemelle of New Orleans appears to bring to a conclusion months of skirmishing between the state and President Barack Obama’s administration over the voucher program and whether it will affect racial balance in the school districts still under court supervision for desegregation.

The judge largely sided with the U.S. Department of Justice, ordering the state to provide data about the racial background of students enrolling in the voucher program…

…The judge sided with the federal government in a skirmish over race classifications. The state had sought to exclude data on students who marked “black” as one of several race or ethnic categories they meet.

“The state is now suggesting, for reporting purposes, a ‘new definition of black'” that would fail to take account of mixed-race students, the Justice Department said in a March court filing.

“Adopting the state’s new proposed definition would thus undermine the United States’ ability to accurately and fully count students in public and private schools by race to evaluate … whether the voucher program has an impact on segregation in those schools,” the Justice Department said in the filing.

Lemelle’s order requires the state to include data for black students “defined as any student who indicated black either alone or as one of several race/ethnic categories.”

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Black & Jewish in New Orleans

Posted in Articles, Louisiana, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2014-04-04 02:16Z by Steven

Black & Jewish in New Orleans

BrassyBrown.com: where women of color are first in line
2014-04-01

Marian Moore, Guest Blogger

December of 2013 found me in San Diego, California this year, attending the fiftieth Biennial of the Women of Reform Judaism. Although, this was the organization’s centennial, WRJ actually began at my synagogue in 1900 as “the Sisterhood”, the name still used by most members. When I look at our official history, I find that the Sisterhood began as a ladies auxiliary. In 1900, they took on the task of selecting the furnishings for the synagogue and maintaining the new synagogue building. In later years, they did everything from comforting the sick, funding the purchase of an organ, preparing holiday synagogue meals, and sponsoring scholarships at the rabbinical college in Cincinnati. WRJ, The Sisterhood, is still the critical heart of the synagogue. They ensure that things get done. The President of each synagogue chapter is responsible for representing the chapter on the synagogue board and responsible for defining what tasks the chapter will accept.

This was my third biennial but my first as the President of my synagogue chapter. Each time that I’ve attended these national gatherings, there are more jews of color (JOC) participants than the prior time. I attended many small panel discussions where I was the only non-white woman in the room, but when I attended the group discussions with more than one hundred attendees that was never the case. Many of our blended identities were present, from Jewish and African-American, Jewish and Asian-American, Jewish and Latina, et. al. While I was there to find out how to increase membership in my own synagogue Sisterhood, I was interested to listen as the hierarchy of both the women’s organization and the Reform movement wrestled with the recognition of the diversity of Reform Judaism and jewish life in general. I see evidence of that struggle in my life in New Orleans…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

The Strange History of the American Quadroon: Free Women of Color in the Revolutionary Atlantic World by Emily Clark (review) [Wright]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Louisiana, United States on 2014-03-20 03:04Z by Steven

The Strange History of the American Quadroon: Free Women of Color in the Revolutionary Atlantic World by Emily Clark (review) [Wright]

Early American Literature
Volume 49, Number 1, 2014
page 257-262
DOI: 10.1353/eal.2014.0015

Nazera Sadiq Wright, Assistant Professor of English
University of Kentucky

The Strange History of the American Quadroon: Free Women of Color in the Revolutionary Atlantic World unveils the historical genealogy of the American quadroon from its invention as a by-product of the Haitian Revolution and evolution as an alluring figure of sexual desire in New Orleans to its contemporary representation in film and media. Emily Clark tells a masterful story of the quadroon’s migration from the Caribbean to the United States, surfacing in Philadelphia, and settling in New Orleans. She begins with the revolution in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, a revolt that resulted in the establishment of Haiti in 1804. The American quadroon was a socially constructed formula created after the Haitian Revolution to reduce anxiety over race revolts in the Caribbean that threatened to reach American soil. The fictional quadroon, argues Clark, aided in the imaginative construction of New Orleans as a foreign city apart from the American polity. As with Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson’s black, female mistress kept hidden away like a secret, so too did Americans create “a complex symbolic strategy that kept the quadroon at an imaginative distance from the nation’s heart and heartland” (6). Clark insists that scholars consider New Orleans as a foundational scene of American history, arguing that “the presumption that the history of New Orleans and its quadroons is unique diverts the gaze of the rest of the nation away from its own unattractive Atlantic past, allowing it to remain firmly fixed on less-troubling founding scenes played out on the Mayflower and in Independence Hall” (9). The Strange History of the American Quadroon corrects this sanitization by examining the “intertwined stories” of the quadroon’s evolution as a cultural symbol, the actual people whom this racial classification represents, and the myth that New Orleans is the only home of the quadroon (10).

Using a dazzling array of materials carefully gleaned from archives and historical repositories, including collections at the Latin American Library at Tulane University, the Templeman Library at the University of Kent, and the Office of Archives and Records from the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Clark restores the quadroon to US cultural memory. The first chapter situates the quadroon in the American popular and political imagination through her appearance in the Philadelphia press in 1807. With Haitian refugees migrating to Philadelphia and other US cities after the Haitian Revolution, the image of the quadroon articulated white Philadelphians’ fear of a black republic as well as more generalized anxiety regarding the tenuous political landscape of a newly formed nation. The chapter begins with a detailed account of Haiti’s involvement in the quadroon’s migration to America and her embattled appearance in Philadelphia politics and print culture, arguing that the figure of the black woman “emerged as a charged rhetorical device” in the Philadelphia newspapers to represent the animosity between radical and conservative Democratic Republicans (35). This animosity resulted in the quadroon press war of 1807, which recounted Philadelphia’s unstable relationship with Saint Domingue as a conflict among political parties. The richness of this chapter rests in the way Clark synthesizes the history of the Haitian Revolution and its impact on Philadelphia commerce to demonstrate how this duality “conjured the quadroon as a political trope” (37). This chapter will be especially helpful to scholars invested in studying Haiti through the lens of early Philadelphian print culture.

In chapter 2, Clark reveals how American consciousness came to terms with the Haitian Revolution by displacing fear onto the body of the “menagere,” which Clark defines as a free black woman of color who engaged in sexual partnership with white men in New Orleans. This individual wielded significant economic influence, while being demonized as “an insatiable consumer who seduced white men, including American white men, tempting them away from their proper roles as faithful husbands and fathers” (53-54). In that the “menagere” was viewed as a dangerous, sexually irresistible figure who disrupted men’s natural attachments to white women, the free black woman of color threatened national consciousness as a “usurper of patriotic filiation” (54). Quadroon balls emerged in the context of this perceived threat. In these ballrooms, “men could take in the spectacle of quadroon…

Tags: , , , , ,

The Romance of Race: Incest, Miscegenation, and Multiculturalism in the United States, 1880–1930; and Spectacular Wickedness: Sex, Race, and Memory in Storyville, New Orleans [Smithers Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2014-03-08 06:33Z by Steven

The Romance of Race: Incest, Miscegenation, and Multiculturalism in the United States, 1880–1930; and Spectacular Wickedness: Sex, Race, and Memory in Storyville, New Orleans [Smithers Review]

The Journal of American History
Volume 100, Issue 4 (March 2014)
pages 1222-1224
DOI: 10.1093/jahist/jau065

Gregory D. Smithers, Associate Professor of History
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia

Jolie A. Sheffer, The Romance of Race: Incest, Miscegenation, and Multiculturalism in the United States, 1880-1930. (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2013. xiv, 233 pp. Cloth, $72.00. Paper, $24.95.) Emily Epstein Landau, Spectacular Wickedness: Sex, Race, and Memory in Storyville, New Orleans. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2013. xviii, 310 pp. $39.95.)

Since the global financial crisis in 2008 there has been a lot of discussion in newspapers and among historians about the resurgence of economic history. Major university presses have initiated book series devoted to the history of capitalism, while college classrooms across the country reportedly fill with students eager to learn about the past heroics and/or misdeeds of bankers, entrepreneurs, and Wall Street insiders. This turn in historical scholarship has productive potential, for while history is often written about the deceased, it is written for the living so they might better understand the world in which they live. At the same time, the renewed prominence that economic histories now enjoy also has the potential to sideline (and silence) the histories of racial and ethnic minorities, women, and the working classes.

In this context, Jolie A. Sheffer’s The Romance of Race and Emily Epstein Landau’s Spectacular Wickedness are welcome interventions in historical scholarship. Sheffer, whose focus is on the intersecting literary categories of incest and miscegenation, and Landau, who provides a detailed historical examination of the New Orleans vice district of Storyville, demonstrate how understanding the complex and interconnected histories of race, gender, and sexuality remains critical to comprehending the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. In an era dominated by corrupt politicians and…

Read or purchase the review of both books here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

New Orleans After the Civil War: Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom by Justin A. Nystrom (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2014-01-29 17:33Z by Steven

New Orleans After the Civil War: Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom by Justin A. Nystrom (review)

Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
Volume 111, Number 4, Autumn 2013
pages 617-619
DOI: 10.1353/khs.2014.0023

Aaron Astor, Associate professor of History
Maryville College, Maryville, Tennessee

Nystrom, Justin A., New Orleans after the Civil War: Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010).

The narrative arc between the birth of Radical Reconstruction and its final death in Jim Crow is bookended by two events in the city of New Orleans. The infamous “Riot of 1866” showcased for the nation the unwillingness of defeated Confederates to concede any political power to the black masses of the South emerging from slavery. The massacre of black Republicans at the Mechanics’ Institute would play a key role in undermining Johnsonian Reconstruction in the congressional elections of that year. Thirty years later, a mixed-race New Orleanian named Homer Plessy would challenge the Louisiana Separate Car Act, only to have the United States Supreme Court enshrine the “separate but equal” doctrine for the nation at large. But between these tragic moments of racial oppression and humiliation was a remarkably complex, multifaceted, and highly contingent struggle between myriad ethnoracial, class, regional, and partisan forces that complicated any teleological understanding of the rise and fall of Reconstruction.

Justin A. Nystrom’s lucid and colorful account of New Orleans after the Civil War explores this remarkable and ongoing battle for power and dignity among the various forces converging on the streets and in the local and state legislative halls. Nystrom’s portrait of nineteenth-century New Orleans reveals the webs of kinship that seamlessly crossed the color line and lent the city caste system a distinctive three-class character—whites, black slaves, and mixed-race Afro-Creoles. The delicate balance of New Orleans society, further complicated by sizable white ethnic immigrant populations pouring into the city in the 1850s, would explode as early as April 1862 when the Union navy captured the city with hardly a fight.

Nystrom’s study follows the interconnected lives of southern white elites like Ezekiel John Ellis and Frederick Nash Ogden, Afro-Creoles like Charles St. Albin Sauvinet and Louise Drouet, white Creoles like Arthur Toledano and Aristee Louis Tissot, white and black “carpetbaggers” like Algernon Sydney Badger, Henry Clay Warmoth, and Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback, and ex-slaves like Peter Joseph. The intersection of these colorfully named characters produced an entropic political culture with self-serving factions vying for power in the city, the state, and the region. Nystrom expends considerable effort detailing epic street clashes like the “Battle of Liberty Place” in 1874, when a new Democratic White League movement briefly wrested control of the city from its Republican Customs House–based leadership. Added to the paramilitary violence were competing Mardi Gras floats with explicitly political messages that inscribed new and competing racial discourses that undermined the legitimacy of the mixed-race political order. Nystrom’s analysis reveals a tumultuous era of intraparty factionalism that simultaneously complicated revisionist accounts of postwar Republicanism, while also showcasing the difficulty that “Redeemer” factions faced in shaping a white supremacist order long after 1877.

This is an important book for understanding postwar urban politics in the largest city in the South. It is deeply researched, splendidly written, and well contextualized within the larger historiography of Reconstruction. There are some limitations to the personality and kin-based methodology, however. The two infamous bookending moments—the 1866 riot and the Plessy case—ironically receive only cursory treatment in this book. Nystrom’s central characters were mostly bystanders to these events, which meant that they appeared only in the narrative shadows despite their national significance. Another problem, of course, is the exceptionalism of New Orleans itself. For several obvious reasons, New Orleans was (and is) simply atypical as a southern locale. As such, a study of the city is going to have limited implications for understanding the national drama of Reconstruction. Still, Nystrom manages to extrapolate from the complex and contingent history of New Orleans to make the convincing case that the racial politics of the post–Civil War South was much more unpredictable and contested than even post–Foner historians have appreciated…

Tags: , , , ,

New Orleans after the Civil War: Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom

Posted in Books, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2014-01-29 15:04Z by Steven

New Orleans after the Civil War: Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom

Johns Hopkins University Press
2010
344 pages
Hardback ISBN: 0801894344, 9780801894343

Justin A. Nystrom, Assistant Professor of History
Loyola University, New Orleans, Louisiana

We often think of Reconstruction as an unfinished revolution. Justin A. Nystrom’s original study of the aftermath of emancipation in New Orleans takes a different perspective, arguing that the politics of the era were less of a binary struggle over political supremacy and morality than they were about a quest for stability in a world rendered uncertain and unfamiliar by the collapse of slavery.

Commercially vibrant and racially unique before the Civil War, New Orleans after secession and following Appomattox provides an especially interesting case study in political and social adjustment. Taking a generational view and using longitudinal studies of some of the major political players of the era, Nystrom asks fundamentally new questions about life in the post–Civil War South: Who would emerge as leaders in the prostrate but economically ambitious city? How would whites who differed over secession come together over postwar policy? Where would the mixed-race middle class and newly freed slaves fit in the new order? Nystrom follows not only the period’s broad contours and occasional bloody conflicts but also the coalition building and the often surprising liaisons that formed to address these and related issues. His unusual approach breaks free from the worn stereotypes of Reconstruction to explore the uncertainty, self-doubt, and moral complexity that haunted Southerners after the war.

This probing look at a generation of New Orleanians and how they redefined a society shattered by the Civil War engages historical actors on their own terms and makes real the human dimension of life during this difficult period in American history.

Tags: , , ,

From Mushkegowuk to New Orleans: A Mixed Blood Highway

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Canada, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2014-01-16 20:14Z by Steven

From Mushkegowuk to New Orleans: A Mixed Blood Highway

NeWest Press
April 2008
48 pages
ISBN: 978-1-897126-29-5

Joseph Boyden

In 2007, Joseph Boyden, author of the bestselling novel Three Day Road and 2008 Giller Prize winner for Through Black Spruce, was invited by the Canadian Literature Centre | Centre de littérature canadienne to deliver the inaugural Henry Kreisel Lecture at the University of Alberta. Boyden spoke passionately, relating Aboriginal people in Canada to poor African Americans, Whites, and Hispanics in post-Katrina New Orleans. At the end of his lecture he presented a manifesto to the audience, demanding independence from the shackles of North American governments on behalf of these oppressed cultures. The lecture was received with much acclaim and enthusiasm.

In collaboration with the Canadian Literature Centre, NeWest Press is pleased to present the Henry Kreisel Lecture Series publications, a forum for open, inclusive critical thinking, and a tribute to Henry Kreisel himself.

Tags: , ,

Concubinage Law Reaches Negro Only

Posted in Articles, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2014-01-14 21:44Z by Steven

Concubinage Law Reaches Negro Only

Lafayette Adviser
Lafayette, Louisiana
Friday, 1910-04-29
page 1, columns 3-4
Source: Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers (Library of Congress)

By Vote of 3 to 2 Supreme Court Upholds Decision of the Lower Court.

LOUISIANA STATUTE HELD TO BE OF LIMITED SCOPE.

Mulattoes, Quadroons and Octaroons Not  included—Opinion Read by Justice Provosty.

Dally States.

Justices Nicholls and Land dissenting, the State Supreme Court Monday handed down a decision sustaining the decision of Judge Chretien, in the case of the State vs. Octave Treadway and Josephine Treadway, charged with violating the law prohibiting concubinage. In the Criminal Court the defense maintained that Josephine Treadway could not be considered a “colored person,” because she is an octoroon. It was pointed out that the Supreme Court had already decided that an octaroon is not a colored person in the accepted sense of the term as employed years ago. Judge Chretien sustained this argument, and dismissed the accused of the charge of concubinage. Both accused came to New Orleans from Plaquemine Parish.

Associate Justice O. O. Provosty, who was the organ of the Court, says in part:

“This sole question is whether an octoroon is ‘a person of the negro or black race’ within the meaning of the statute.”

Scientifically or ethnologically, a person is Caucasian or negro in the same proportion in which the two strains of blood are mixed in his veins; and therefore, scientifically or ethnologically, a person with seven-eighths white blood in his veins and one-eighth negro blood is seven-eighths white and one-eighth negro. But the words of a statute are not to be understood in their technical, but in their popular sense; and the prosecution contends that the popular meanings of the word negro includes an octoroon. The dictionaries show that the word negro does not include an octoroon within its meaning. In North Carolina a person who has one-sixteenth or more of African blood is a negro, but it gives as us authority for that statement the decision of the Supreme Court of the State, the Court having simply applied or enforced the following statute:

“All free persons descended from negro ancestors to the fourth generation inclusive, though one ancestor in each generation may have been a white person, shall be deemed free negroes and persons of mixed blood.”

The court points out the fact that the Louisiana statute does not define the word negro as including a person of mixed blood.  Had it done so there would, be an end of all questions. The prosecution contends that the word does not need to be defined in a statute; that popularly it has a definite well-known meaning.

The Court says: “There is a word in the English language which does express the meaning of a person of mixed negro and other blood, which has been coined for the very purpose of expressing that meaning, and because the word negro was not known to express it, and the need of a word to express it made itself imperatively felt. That word is the word ‘colored.’ The word ‘colored,’ in the United States at least, when used to designate the race of a person is unmistakable; it means a person of negro blood, pure or mixed, and the term applies no matter what may be the proportion of the mixture, so long as the negro blood is traceable. In our constitution and laws when it has become necessary to use a word comprehending within its meaning both negroes, properly so called, and persons of mixed blood, the term ‘colored’ has invariably been used.”

The court says there are no negroes who are not persons of color, but there are persons of color, who are not negroes. The term ‘color’ as applied to race, was given the meaning of the word negro for the very purpose of having in the language a term including within its meaning both persona of pure and of mixed blood; but the converse is not true.

The word negro was never adopted into the language for the purpose of designating persons of mixed blood. On the contrary, it was for the purpose and the sole purpose of expressing the meaning of persons of the pure race, and it can have now a different or more enlarged meaning only by wrenching it from its original meaning, as was done with the word “colored” and imparting to it a meaning different from that which it was intended to bear and has always borne in the language. The legislature might do this but the statute by which it did it would have authority only in Louisiana and the word negro would still continue to mean, the world over, outside of Louisiana, a person of the pure African race.

“We do not think,” says the court, “there could be any serious denial of the fact that in Louisiana the meaning of the words, mulatto, quadroon and octoroon are of a definite meaning as the words man or child, and that among educated people at least, they are as well and widely known, and we think that there can be no serious denial of the fact that in Louisiana and indeed throughout the United States, except on the Pacific slope, the word colored when applied to race, has the definite and well-known meaning of a person having negro blood in his veins. We think also that any candid mind must admit that the word ‘negro’ of itself unqualified, does not necessarily include within its meaning persons possessed of only an admixture of negro blood; notably those whose admixture is so slight that in their case even an expert can not be positive.”

Tags: , , , , , ,