I’m black. Robert E. Lee is my ancestor. His statues can’t come down soon enough.

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Justice, United States on 2017-08-17 03:47Z by Steven

I’m black. Robert E. Lee is my ancestor. His statues can’t come down soon enough.

The Washington Post
2017-08-15

Karen Finney

Defenders of Confederate monuments are again trying to rewrite an ugly chapter in our nation’s history. If my family can move on, so can they.

As the biracial daughter of Jim Finney, a black civil rights lawyer descended from enslaved Virginians, and Mildred Lee, a white social worker and the great-great-great niece of Confederate General Robert E. Lee — of whom statues stand in many cities and towns, including, now infamously, Charlottesville — my American story is complicated.

About a year ago, I made a discovery that reminded me of just how complicated both my family’s and our nation’s painful journey on race and equality has been. I found two letters that my maternal grandmother, also named Mildred Lee, had written to my father. In the first, four-page, single-spaced typed letter, she laid out arguments why my dad should leave my mom and not marry her as they’d planned. Not only was marrying illegal in their respective home states of Virginia and North Carolina, in 1967, their forthcoming interracial marriage, she explained, was against the “natural order of things,” in which black and white have their place.”

Quoting the Bible, she argued that their marriage would bring permanent disrepute, shame and irreparable damage not only to my mother’s life but also the lives of the whole family. A month later, my parents were married in a simple ceremony in New York City. In a second letter, sent less than a week before I was born, my grandmother described miscegenation as a sin and a stain that would never be made clean, quoting the Bible and invoking “the way of things.”…

Read the entire article here

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An Octoroon

Posted in Arts, Live Events, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2017-08-05 21:28Z by Steven

An Octoroon

Woolly Mammoth Theater
641 D Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
Telephone: 202-393-3939

2017-07-17 through 2017-08-06

By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Nataki Garrett

Last year’s most talked-about, most unforgettable production is returning to Woolly for a limited three-week run: An Octoroon by new MacArthur “Genius Grant”-winner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins!

A plantation on the brink of foreclosure. A young gentleman falling for the part-black daughter of the estate’s owner. An evil swindler plotting to buy her for himself. Meanwhile, the slaves are trying to keep things drama-free, because everybody else is acting crazy.

An Octoroon, Jacobs-Jenkins’ Obie-winning riff on a 19th century melodrama that helped shape the debate around the abolition of slavery, is an incendiary adaptation. Part period satire, part meta-theatrical middle finger, it’s a provocative challenge to the racial pigeonholing of 1859—and of today.

Featuring company members Shannon Dorsey, Jon Hudson Odom, and Erika Rose

Two and a half hours, with one intermission

For more information, click here.

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Thomas and Sally

Posted in Arts, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Slavery, United States on 2017-08-01 20:06Z by Steven

Thomas and Sally

Marin Theater Company
Mill Valley, California
September 28-October 22 (2017) | World Premiere

By Thomas Bradshaw


Thomas Bradshaw

An explosive world premiere by the 2017 PEN Award-winner, Thomas and Sally gets up close and personal with our country’s first prominent mixed-race couple: Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, the enslaved woman who mothered 6 of his children. Bradshaw takes us behind the scenes—and into the beds—of American history with the Hemings-Jeffersons and the rock stars of the Revolution: Ben Franklin, John & Abigail Adams & the Marquis de Lafayette!

For more information, click here.

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Passing for White

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2017-07-26 15:48Z by Steven

Passing for White

Barrington Stoke
2017-05-11
112 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78112-681-3

Tanya Landman

She must pose as a master to make herself free.

It’s 1848 in the Deep South of America. Rosa is a slave but her owner is also her father and her fair skin means she can ‘pass for white’. With the help of Benjamin, her husband, she disguises herself as a young white man – and Benjamin’s master. In this guise, the two of them must make their way out of the South, avoiding those they have encountered before and holding their nerve over a thousand miles to freedom.

Inspired by the amazing true story of Ellen and William Craft, this is a powerful tale of danger, injustice and unimaginable courage.

Information for Adults: This book has a dyslexia-friendly layout, typeface and paperstock so that even more readers can enjoy it. It has been edited to a reading age of 8.

It features a removable ‘super-readable’ sticker.

Read the first chapter here.

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Slavery and Freedom in Texas: Stories from the Courtroom, 1821–1871

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Law, Monographs, Slavery, Texas, United States on 2017-07-19 03:22Z by Steven

Slavery and Freedom in Texas: Stories from the Courtroom, 1821–1871

University of Georgia Press
2017-11-01
258 pages
2 b&w photos, 8 maps
Trim size: 6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8203-5133-9
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8203-5163-6

Jason A. Gillmer, John J. Hemmingson Chair in Civil Liberties and Professor of Law
Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington

Riveting trials that exposed conflicting attitudes toward race and liberty

In these absorbing accounts of five court cases, Jason A. Gillmer offers intimate glimpses into Texas society in the time of slavery. Each story unfolds along boundaries—between men and women, slave and free, black and white, rich and poor, old and young—as rigid social orders are upset in ways that drive people into the courtroom.

One case involves a settler in a rural county along the Colorado River, his thirty-year relationship with an enslaved woman, and the claims of their children as heirs. A case in East Texas arose after an owner refused to pay an overseer who had shot one of her slaves. Another case details how a free family of color carved out a life in the sparsely populated marshland of Southeast Texas, only to lose it all as waves of new settlers “civilized” the county. An enslaved woman in Galveston who was set free in her owner’s will—and who got an uncommon level of support from her attorneys—is the subject of another case. In a Central Texas community, as another case recounts, citizens forced a Choctaw native into court in an effort to gain freedom for his slave, a woman who easily “passed” as white.

The cases considered here include Gaines v. Thomas, Clark v. Honey, Brady v. Price, State v. Ashworth, and Webster v. Heard. All of them pitted communal attitudes and values against the exigencies of daily life in an often harsh place. Here are real people in their own words, as gathered from trial records, various legal documents, and many other sources. People of many colors, from diverse backgrounds, weave their way in and out of the narratives. We come to know what mattered most to them—and where those personal concerns stood before the law.

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Sally Hemings wasn’t Thomas Jefferson’s mistress. She was his property.

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2017-07-13 00:09Z by Steven

Sally Hemings wasn’t Thomas Jefferson’s mistress. She was his property.

The Washington Post
2017-07-07

Britni Danielle


The room at Monticello where Sally Hemings is believed to have lived. (Norm Shafer/For The Washington Post)

Archaeologists at Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia plantation, Monticello, are unearthing the room where Sally Hemings is believed to have lived, allowing for a new way to tell the story of the enslaved people who served our third president. The excavation has once again reminded us that 241 years after the United States was founded, many Americans still don’t know how to reconcile one of our nation’s original sins with the story of its Founding Fathers.

Just before the Fourth of July, NBC News ran a feature on the room, setting off a spate of coverage about the dig. Many of these stories described Hemings, the mother of six children with Jefferson, as the former president’s “mistress.” The Inquisitr, the Daily Mail, AOL and Cox Media Group all used the word (though Cox later updated its wording). So did an NBC News tweet that drew scathing criticism, though its story accurately called her “the enslaved woman who, historians believe, gave birth to six of Jefferson’s children.” The Washington Post also used “mistress” in a headline and a tweet about Hemings’s room in February.

Language like that elides the true nature of their relationship, which is believed to have begun when Hemings, then 14 years old, accompanied Jefferson’s daughter to live with Jefferson, then 44, in Paris. She wasn’t Jefferson’s mistress; she was his property. And he raped her…

Read the entire article here.

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Fighting for Black Lives in Colombia: ‘The People Do Not Give Up, Damn It’

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Justice on 2017-07-05 22:21Z by Steven

Fighting for Black Lives in Colombia: ‘The People Do Not Give Up, Damn It’

The Root
2017-07-01

Lori S. Robinson


iStock

Editor’s note: This story is the first in a three-part series looking at the fight for rights of black people in Colombia. This first piece explores the history of Afro-Colombians and the impact of the recently ended war with the FARC. Subsequent stories will examine the current political environment. 

Black activism started in Colombia when Africans arrived in chains.

Spaniards were early kingpins in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, first importing kidnapped Africans into what was then New Granada in the 1520s—a century before the British brought this epic crime against humanity to North America.

Concentrated along the country’s Pacific coast, enslaved people were forced to do agricultural labor and, primarily, to mine gold. This region became majority black during colonial times. It still is…

…Colombia never had legal segregation after slavery, like the United States. The national narrative of Colombia, like most of Latin America, has been that inequality is economic, not racial, and that significant racial mixing throughout the country’s history proves that racism doesn’t exist. According to Perea, Colombians have gone so far as to say that “racism was solely an expression of North American culture.”

Meanwhile, the largest numbers of black Colombians have been isolated, abandoned by their own government, without educational or employment opportunities, living in poverty…

Read the entire article here.

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Longtown Descendants Breathe New Life Into Historic Mixed-Race Community

Posted in Articles, Audio, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2017-06-05 00:32Z by Steven

Longtown Descendants Breathe New Life Into Historic Mixed-Race Community

WOSU Public Media
WOSU Radio
Columbus, Ohio
2017-05-31

Jerry Kenney


Kaiser family reunion at Longtown. Kaiser Family

In southwest Ohio, about a mile from the Indiana state line, a long-forgotten town with a special place in African American history is struggling to be reborn.

Longtown was established nearly 200 years ago in what is now Greenville. The settlement grew into a thriving mixed-race community and a major stop on the Underground Railroad.

Now, descendants of those pioneering settlers are working to bring Longtown back to life for others to experience.

Longtown’s Founding

In 1818, James Clemens, a freed slave from Rockingham County, Virginia, settled in Darke County, Ohio, with his wife Sophia Sellers and their five children, and began to farm.

“They were the sons and daughters of slave masters,” says historian and Longtown descendant Roane Smothers.

Smothers says some slave owners not only acknowledged the children they bore with slaves but also provided them with financial support. Such was the case with James and Sophia, who purchased land in Ohio with the help of Sellers’ father, he says…

Read the entire article here. Listen to the story (00:05:45) here.

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Privileging Kinship: Family and Race in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery on 2017-05-12 02:36Z by Steven

Privileging Kinship: Family and Race in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica

Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Volume 14, Number 4, Fall 2016
pages 688-711
DOI: 10.1353/eam.2016.0025

Daniel Livesay, Assistant Professor of History
Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California

During the long eighteenth century, elite free people of color in Jamaica petitioned the government for exemptions to some of the island’s laws against those with African ancestry. In making these appeals, they highlighted advanced social and financial positions that put them above the average Jamaican of color. But perhaps most important, these petitions noted familial relations to white men on the island. These kinship connections were central in determining if a free person of color was deserving enough to receive “privileged” rights. In bestowing these privileges, Jamaican officials demonstrated that one’s racial status on the island was determined, in part, by familial linkages to white colonists. Although only a fraction of mixed-race Jamaicans gained these legal exemptions, the practice nevertheless reveals how important family relation was in constructing racial identities, even in a place built on racialized oppression and slavery.

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Heroines of the Haitian Revolutions

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery, Women on 2017-05-01 02:19Z by Steven

Heroines of the Haitian Revolutions

Public Books
2017-04-28

Laurent Dubois, Professor of Romance Studies and History and the Director of the Forum for Scholars & Publics
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

What is the role of an artist in the face of political repression? What is the place of culture in the midst of injustice and terror? Haitian writer Marie Vieux-Chauvet (1916–1973), author of powerful novels representing the experience of living under the Duvalier dictatorship, confronted such questions throughout her life.

One of Vieux-Chauvet’s earliest novels, Dance on the Volcano (1957), just published in a new English translation, does so by journeying back to the world of plantation slavery and of the Haitian Revolution. The novel is woven around the life of a real historical figure, Minette, a free woman of African descent who overcame the racial barriers of the time to become a star singer on the colonial stage. It focuses on Minette’s struggle to find both an artistic and a political voice, using her story as a crossroads through which to explore broader questions about art, sexuality, politics, and revolutionary change.

Because of her background, Minette’s presence onstage was always a risk, and her voice a weapon. Born in 1767, she was mentored by a white actress in Port-au-Prince, the colony’s capital. In 1780, Minette performed onstage for the first time. Vieux-Chauvet dramatizes the scene of her debut by imagining the terror the young girl must have felt as she stared out at the crowd: rows and rows of white faces looking up at her, expectantly. As the violin strikes its first chord, Minette opens her mouth but no sound comes out…

Read the entire article here.

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