African Americans in Atlanta: Adrienne Herndon, an Uncommon Woman

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2017-02-08 16:53Z by Steven

African Americans in Atlanta: Adrienne Herndon, an Uncommon Woman

Southern Spaces: A Journal about Real and Imagined Spaces and Places of the US South and their Global Connections
DOI: 10.18737/M7XP4B

Carole Merritt

Portrait of Adrienne Herndon, date unknown. (c) The Herndon Home.


Ahead of her time and outside of her assigned place, Adrienne Herndon achieved acclaim in education, drama, and architecture in turn-of-the-century Atlanta. As head of the drama department at Atlanta University, as aspiring dramatic artist, as architect of what would be designated a National Historic Landmark, Adrienne Herndon set her own course in a society that rejected such independence in women. She was one of the most highly trained professional women in Atlanta, having graduated from Atlanta University normal school in preparation for teaching, and having received degrees from the Boston School of Expression and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.

Adrienne Herndon (1869–1910)

“It is simply inevitable that I should end up on the stage,” Adrienne stated in 1904 just before her Boston debut as a dramatic reader. “The footlights have beckoned me since I was a little child and I simply must respond. It has always been my dream to portray all the heroic feminine characters of Shakespeare.” (Boston Traveler, January 25, 1904). From her childhood in Savannah, through her drama studies in Boston and New York, Adrienne held on to this dream of a career on the legitimate theater stage. The harsh realities of race and gender in America, however, doomed the realization of this dream. Except for vaudeville, minstrelsy, and all-Black dramatic productions, there was no place for Blacks on the American theater stage. As the daughter of light-skinned, slave-born house servants with considerable White ancestry, Adrienne’s skin was white. She identified herself as a Creole, a racially ambiguous term by which she was neither admitting nor denying her race.

Passing for White, she made her debut in Boston…

Read the entire article here.

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When Ancestry Search Led To Escaped Slave: ‘All I Could Do Was Weep’

Posted in Articles, Audio, Autobiography, Biography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2016-01-19 02:13Z by Steven

When Ancestry Search Led To Escaped Slave: ‘All I Could Do Was Weep’

Fresh Air (From WHYY in Philadelphia)
National Public Radio

Terry Gross, Host

When she was in fifth grade, Regina Mason received a school assignment that would change her life: to connect with her country of origin. That night, she went home and asked her mother where they were from.

“She told me about her grandfather who was a former slave,” Mason tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “And that blew me away, because I’m thinking, ‘Slavery was like biblical times. It wasn’t just a few generations removed.’ ”

But for Mason, slavery was a few generations removed. She would later learn that her great-great-great-grandfather, a man named William Grimes, had been a runaway slave, and that he had authored what is now considered to be the first fugitive slave narrative.

“William Grimes’ narrative is precedent-setting,” Mason says. “[It] was published in 1825, and this was years before the abolitionist movement picked up slave narrative as a propaganda tool to end slavery. It sort of unwittingly paved the way for the American slave narrative to follow.”

Grimes’ original narrative tells the story of his 30 years spent in captivity, followed by his escape in 1814 from Savannah, Ga. He describes how his former owner discovered his whereabouts after the escape and forced him to give up his house in exchange for his freedom. (An updated version, published in 1855, includes a chapter about Grimes’ later life in poverty.)

Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave was again republished in 2008 by Oxford University Press. The latest edition was edited by Mason and William Andrews, a scholar of early African-American autobiography…

…Interview Highlights

On learning from her mother that her ancestors had been slaves

She talked about Grandpa Fuller, who was a mulatto slave. And I inquired about his parentage and she told me that his father, from what she knew, was a plantation owner, and his mother was an enslaved black woman. …

And I’m asking, “Well, that’s weird. Did his father own him?” … I mean, how do you explain … to children that slavery existed in freedom-loving America, No. 1; and No. 2, how do you explain to a child about an enslaved heritage shrouded in miscegenation? It’s not an easy thing to do…

Read the story highlights here. Listen to the interview (00:35:55) here. Download the interview here.

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Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave

Posted in Autobiography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2016-01-19 02:02Z by Steven

Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave

Oxford University Press
192 pages
21 illus.
5 1/2 X 8 1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780195343311
Paperback ISBN: 9780195343328

William L. Andrews, E. Maynard Adams Professor of English; Senior Associate Dean for Fine Arts and Humanities
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Regina E. Mason, Grimes’s great-great-great-granddaughter

  • The first fugitive slave narrative in American history
  • A candid, unfiltered, and fully authenticated account of both slavery and so-called freedom in the antebellum U.S. before the advent of the American antislavery movement
  • A unprecedented editorial partnership blending scholarship and family history to yield a unique modern edition of a neglected classic of antislavery literature
  • No other slave narrative has been recovered, researched, and annotated by a slave’s descendent until now

Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave is the first fugitive slave narrative in American history. Because Grimes wrote and published his narrative on his own, without deference to white editors, publishers, or sponsors, his Life has an immediacy, candor, and no-holds-barred realism unparalleled in the famous antebellum slave narratives of the period. This edition of Grimes’s autobiography represents a historic partnership between noted scholar of the African American slave narrative, William L. Andrews, and Regina Mason, Grimes’s great-great-great-granddaughter. Their extensive historical and genealogical research has produced an authoritative, copiously annotated text that features pages from an original Grimes family Bible, transcriptions of the 1824 correspondence that set the terms for the author’s self-purchase in Connecticut (nine years after his escape from Savannah, Georgia), and many other striking images that invoke the life and times of William Grimes.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction by William L. Andrews
  • Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave
  • Chronology: the life and times of William Grimes
  • Afterword by Regina E. Mason
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Employee’s Change in Racial Self-Identification Cannot Support Discrimination Claim if Employer Unaware of Change

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2015-10-08 20:28Z by Steven

Employee’s Change in Racial Self-Identification Cannot Support Discrimination Claim if Employer Unaware of Change

JD Supra Business Advisor

Jonathan Crotty
Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP, Charlotte, North Carolina

Michael Vanesse
Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP, Charlotte, North Carolina

In recent years, more Americans have begun identifying themselves as biracial or of mixed racial heritage. This shift has resulted in changes to census and other forms where people are asked to self-identify by race. In addition, some persons of mixed heritage may change their personal identification with one racial category over time. However, as recently pointed out by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, this change cannot form the basis for a race discrimination claim if unknown to the employer at the time the questioned decisions were made.

In Fagerstrom v. City of Savannah, the plaintiff was a police captain of Swedish and Japanese heritage. When filling out forms used for affirmative action purposes, the plaintiff had identified himself as white. When passed over for promotion to major, the plaintiff sued, alleging that he had been discriminated against based on his race in favor of two white captains. The plaintiff said that he changed his self-identification to Asian-American several years previously…

Read the entire article here.

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The Cherokee Rose: A Novel Of Gardens & Ghosts

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Novels, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-03-22 18:31Z by Steven

The Cherokee Rose: A Novel Of Gardens & Ghosts

John F. Blair
264 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-89587-635-5

Tiya Miles, Elsa Barkley Brown Collegiate Professor of African American Women’s History
University of Michigan

Written by an award-winning historian and recipient of a recent MacArthur “Genius Grant,” The Cherokee Rose explores territory reminiscent of the bestselling and beloved works of Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, and Louise Erdrich. Now, Tiya Miles’s luminous but highly accessible novel examines a little-known aspect of America’s past—slaveholding by Southern Creeks and Cherokees—and its legacy in the lives of three young women who are drawn to the Georgia plantation where scenes of extreme cruelty and equally extraordinary compassion once played out.

Based on the author’s in-depth and award-winning research into archival sources at the Chief Vann House Historic Site in Chatsworth, Georgia, and the Moravian mission sponsored there in the early 1800s, Miles has blended this fascinating history with a contemporary cast of engaging and memorable characters, including Jinx, the free-spirited historian exploring her tribe’s complicated racial history; Ruth, whose mother sought refuge from a troubled marriage in her beloved garden and the cosmetic empire she built from its bounty; Cheyenne, the Southern black debutante seeking to connect with a meaningful personal history; and, hovering above them all, the spirit of long-gone Mary Ann Battis, a young woman suspected of burning a mission to the ground and then disappearing from tribal records. Together, the women’s discoveries about the secrets of the Cherokee plantation trace their attempts to connect with the strong spirits of the past and reconcile the conflicts in their own lives.

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Down Blige Road: Where There’s No Place Like Home

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2014-10-14 13:13Z by Steven

Down Blige Road: Where There’s No Place Like Home

Richmond Hill Reflections
Richmond Hill, Georgia
Volume 10, Number 4 (September 2014)
pages 57-60

Leslie Ann Berg (Photos by Callie Beale Photography)

Richmond Hill’s history is engrained deep within the walls of its old buildings, street names, and its land. But there is another place where history runs deep in Richmond Hill. It is a living, breathing history that not only thrived centuries ago, but is still thriving today. It is a history that courses through the very veins of the Richmond Hill people: It is the history of bloodlines.

Some of us are military families that found our way to Richmond Hill because of our duty, others transferred here for a job, and still others came to Richmond Hill for its quiet, safe community and great schools. But there is a very real and permanent group of people who live in Richmond Hill because it is home in the deepest sense of the word: Richmond Hill is where their ancestors settled and where they choose to remain. This group of people is the Blige family.

Meeting a member of the Blige family is like meeting an old friend. They are warm, welcoming, and full of jovial conversation. As I sat around Albertha Blige’s dining room table with her cousin Francis, and her mother Dorothy, and Uncle Pete, both in their 80s, we discussed Blige family history, traditions, and folklore. The women were tight-lipped when it came to telling stories, but Uncle Pete opened up and let me in on who exactly the Bliges were and are.

The Bliges made their way to Richmond Hill after the Civil War in 1875, when three brothers, Andrew, Benjamin, and Rently Blige, migrated south from Charleston, South Carolina. All three bothers married and had eight, nine, and 11 children respectively and so began the large Blige family of Richmond Hill. The brothers worked for wages at the Ogeechee River plantations. As their children grew, the family purchased land from Thomas Savage Clay, a man who owned several plantations in the Richmond Hill area.

Owning land was monumental for the families of emancipated slaves like the Bliges, yet life wasn’t easy. Uncle Pete, Benjamin Blige’s grandson and one of 20 children, recalls what life was like when he was a boy: “[My father] worked about 60 miles from [Richmond Hill]. He left on Sunday evenings and didn’t come back for 2 weeks. My mother was here taking care of the farm. The kids worked… that’s why they had so many kids. Kids carried the farm and my mother did the housework and watched the kids.”…

…Uncle Pete’s accounts of his family may sound like a typical African American ancestral history in the southeastern United States, but beneath the commonalities lies a forgotten history, a history that never made its way into the history books.

The Blige’s African American ancestry is vibrant and evident, yet they are also of Cherokee Indian decent. African-Native Americans? Yes, and in fact, African-Native Americans made up a significant percentage of Native Americans living in the South in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Yet their existence is not widely accounted for in history.

The American history that most of us are familiar with is one that paints a picture of segregated ethnic groups, depicting Whites as slave owners, Africans as slaves, and Native Americans as tribe members. In most of our minds, all three groups were separate and played a very specific and hierarchical role in history. Yet, before North America was widely colonized, distinct segregation did not exist, and the interaction between Africans and Native Americans was somewhat frequent. Enslaved Africans escaped to Native American tribes (some tribes even hosted stops on the Underground Railroad), some Native Americans were enslaved by Europeans alongside Africans, and some Native Americans had African slaves. Often times, the two groups worked alongside each other, lived together, and shared recipes, myths, legends, and herbal remedies. Africans and Native Americans intermarried and had children. In fact, relations were so frequent that when a census was taken in the early 1800s, 10% of the Cherokee Nation was of African descent; 100 years later, this number increased to 50%.

As interaction between the Africans and Native Americans increased, colonists felt a need to break their alliance and issue laws that secured the land and property the Europeans had acquired. Once the American government was established and began to thrive, such laws were carried out. Only then did the rights ot slave owners gain tremendous strength, while the rights of Africans and Native Americans fell to the wayside. In order to enforce the new laws and segregate the two ethnic groups, a census was taken to categorize all individuals as African or Native American. Categorization was based solely on skin color; consequently, much of the African-Native American history, culture, and ancestral lines were erased. Fast forward 300 years and most Americans know very little, it anything, about this fascinating ethnic group.

The Blige family shares in this incredible story of the African-Native Americans. Their bloodline is unique and in many ways, we wall never truly uncover the rich culture ot the African-Native American due to the lack ot documentation. But the Blige family has main tained a connection to their African-Native American ancestors in their ability to live off the land and their lifelong practice olt faith and spirituality…

Read the entire article here.

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Black History Month celebrates both race and ethnicity

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2014-02-11 04:45Z by Steven

Black History Month celebrates both race and ethnicity

The Red & Black
University Georgia Student Newspaper
Athens, Georgia

Mariya Lewter, Sphomore
Decatur, Georgia

As a person of “mixed” race, I’ve always found it difficult to truly racially identify myself. Not because I don’t know who I am, but because others refused to accept my definition of who I am.

Growing up, I attended predominantly black schools. There were few kids who looked like me, and I can probably count on one hand how many students were not African-American.

My peers had a hard time guessing my race because I have a light skin complexion, but black facial features and curly hair. So I often got asked the question, “What are you?”…

…I know how I look, but I also know how I feel and how I was raised. I was raised with black culture in a black community with a black family. My blood is only one-fourth Caucasian, but according to everyone around me, because I’m fair-skinned, there was no way I could be black.

This mindset needs to change…

Read the entire article here.

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Growing Up Black in American Apartheid – Ford Pt1

Posted in Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States, Videos on 2013-10-24 02:16Z by Steven

Growing Up Black in American Apartheid – Ford Pt1

Reality Asserts Itself
The Real News Network

Paul Jay, Host

Glen Ford, Executive Editor
Black Agenda Report

On Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay: Glen Ford, Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report, tells his story as a red-diaper baby, growing up facing racism in the North living with his white activist mother, and living in the Deep South with his black deejay father.

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Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, United States on 2013-10-06 23:14Z by Steven


Weekly Banner-Watchman
Athens, Georgia
page 1, columns 3-4
The Athens Historic Newspaper database is a project of the Digital Library of Georgia as part of Georgia HomePLACE.
Transcribed by Steven F. Riley

A Reply By Rev. S. P. Richardson D. D. to a Sermon By Dr. Talmage, Preached in Brooklyn, N.Y. March 3rd, on “The United States, Immigration Ethology, and the Amalgamation of All the Races.

Text Acts XVII and part of the 20th verse, “And hath made of one blood all nations,” (the whole verse) of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” The whole verse shows clearly that God, instead of intending to unite by immigration and amalgamation all nationalities, before determined and appointed their bounds of separation. He gave Africa to Ham, Asia to Shem and Europe and the West to Japheth. He also gave form, brain and color to each family suited to develop the countries in which he placed them.

Dr. Talmadge says: “The advantage of the influx of nations, through mighty additions of foreign population to our above population I think God is giving, to fill this land with a race of people 95 per cent superior to anything the world has ever seen. Marriage outside of one own nationality and with another style of nationality is a mighty gain.”

The Doctor then speaks of himself and of the very great gain by mixing the Scotch and Irish. Dr. Talmage knows that the European nations are largely made up of the white or Japhethic race, all of the one primordial race. The Doctor is a great man in some respects, but what would he have been if only his Scotch and Irish blood had been supplemented with a little sprinkling of negro, Indian and Hottentot? He proposes to make (not the North) “but the whole United States a great caldron, in which to mix all races and all nationalities, and to formulate in this caldron, out of all races, a new race or manhood “95 par cent, superior to anything this world has ever seen.”

The Doctor proves, as he thinks, from his garbled text, and from a scientific analysis of one single part of man, “the blood” that all men are the same. Now if the Doctor really wanted to be fair in his presentation of his subject to the world, why did he not subject the hair, skin, bones and odor of all the races to the same analysis? Why just take one thing, “the blood.” All animals have some one thing in common with man, seeing, hearing and tasting belong to the ass as well as the man.

If all the races are one when put into his big caldron, will they not still be one when he takes them out? If the putting of all the races into the big caldron, with all their different colors and odors, would make them all Scotch-Irish, it might be well to put them in, but so far as the experiment has been made up to date, the facts are that in exact proportion as you put in white, black, or yellow, it comes out white, black or yellow in the very same proportion it was put in. If the white and black mix they will be mulattoes in all coming generations.

I have never seen the results of amalgamation on so large a scale as the Doctor proposes with his great caldron; but I have seen the white, black and Indian, all mixed up in one person, but that person was nothing like Dr. Talmage’s beauty nor was he 95 per cent. beyond anything I had ever seen. The white and yellow were very much marred in the mixture, and the black not much improved, if improved at all. The mulatto may, in some respects, be an improvement on the negro, but he is certainly no improvement on the white man, and in the long run the mulatto, like all the other hybrids, becomes extinct. My long observation goes to prove that in mixing the races all are weakened and none are benefitted. All the different families of the same race may be benefitted by mixing, like the Scotch and the Irish, but never by mixing the races. If God had intended the amalgamation of all the races, why did He, by creation, or miraculous interposition separate the races, and appoint them bounds, and give to each the place of his habitation. The negro is not a human invention, nor is the white or yellow man, but a divine appointment. The three colors are primordial, and are not radically changed by food, or climate. The negro was black four thousand years ago, as he is now. God says he cannot change his skin any more than the leopard can change his spots, and yet the Doctor would change God’s decree.

Europe and the North brought the negro from his God-given home, and sold him to the South, then becoming dissatisfied with what they had done, destroyed a half million of Southern white people to set the four million of negroes free. In their modes of warfare they showed that they were capable of the deepest depravity, and really acted worse than common Savages. Now they are dissatisfied with the freedom of the negro, and their most popular and sensational preacher sounded the bugle note on the 3d of March in Brooklyn, N.Y., to rig up a big caldron, into which be proposes to cast both negroes and whites, and stew them both down to a common mulatto, and destroy both the white and black races, and substitute them with a race of mulattoes, a type of humanity God never made. There is not a mulatto or mule in the primordial type, in the kingdom of nature. The Bible, experience and God in universal nature, are all pronounced against the amalgamation of the races. I have never known a Scotch-Irishman, Dutchman or Englishman, not even a cold blooded Yankee to improve their posterity by mixing with negroes and Indians. Nor have I ever known the negro or Indian much improved by mixing with them. The real facts are the negro has no more affinities for the white and yellow races, than they have for him.

Dr. Talmage says: “There was a time when I entertained race prejudices, but thanks to God that prejudice is gone and if I set in a church on one side a black man and on the other side an Indian and before me a Chinaman and behind me a Turk, I would be as happy as I am now standing in the presence of this brilliant auiience. The sooner we get this corpse of race prejudice buried the healthier will be (not our Northern) but American atmosphere.”  This is the most pronounced social equality and amalgamation I have ever heard from any man. I have denied, that the Northern churches held any such views, and that it was only a ghost of Southern imagination. Dr. Talmage is a representative mam, and knows the mind and feelings of the North.

Dr. Talmage ought to be a good Presbyterian and let God’s divine decrees alone. Did God not ordain the races? The Doctor ought to be tried for heresy and put out of the church for trying to violate the divine decrees by making mulattoes out of people which God has made white and black. I would suggest to the good Doctor and his brilliant congregation, to make the experiment of mixing the races on a smaller scale, and not have so large a funeral all at onca. Let one of the Doctor’s daughters marry a negro, and another a Chinamen, and another a Hottentot, and then let his Elders follow his exaple, and take time and see if, on a small scale, they can produce a race 95 per cent above anything the world has ever seen.  Then show his picture of this new development to his Northern friends, who drive the negro children out of their white public schools.  If the North will fix up large gardens and invite the negroes to come up North among their friends, and then enter into a hearty amalgamation, the negro problem may be solved.

If the good Doctor will take the time and pains to review the history of nations, their decay and final fall, he will see that in most instances their ruin was the result, both religiously and politically of mixing nations and amalgamation. God forbade the Jews to mix with other nations. Dr. Talmage, in the face of the Bible, proposes to build up a great nation out of the very causes that have destroyed greater nations. I have no doubt but our good Dr. Talmage and brilliant Brooklyn congregations would suffer crucifixion before they would mix their families with negroes, Chinamen and Hottentots. This great country has been built up, not by the Hametic or Shemetic races, but by the children of Japheth–English, Dutch, Scotch and Irish, and the country will never be injured by the immigration, of those nationalities, or our amalgamation with them. I am English and German, but no negro or Chinaman. An Englishman or Scotchman is not a foreigner in this country, but one of the same white family. —S. P. Richardson.

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The Life and Times of Mary Musgrove

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Religion, United States, Women on 2013-07-17 03:31Z by Steven

The Life and Times of Mary Musgrove

University Press of Florida
296 pages
6 x 9
Cloth ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-4221-3

Steven C. Hahn, Associate Professor of History
St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota

One of the most recognizable names of the colonial Deep South

The story of Mary Musgrove (1700-1764), a Creek Indian-English woman struggling for success in colonial society, is an improbable one.

As a literate Christian, entrepreneur, and wife of an Anglican clergyman, Mary was one of a small number of “mixed blood” Indians to achieve a position of prominence among English colonists. Born to a Creek mother and an English father, Mary’s bicultural heritage prepared her for an eventful adulthood spent in the rough and tumble world of Colonial Georgia Indian affairs.

Active in diplomacy, trade, and politics—affairs typically dominated by men—Mary worked as an interpreter between the Creek Indians and the colonists–although some argue that she did so for her own gains, altering translations to sway transactions in her favor. Widowed twice in the prime of her life, Mary and her successive husbands claimed vast tracts of land in Georgia (illegally, as British officials would have it) by virtue of her Indian heritage, thereby souring her relationship with the colony’s governing officials and severely straining the colony’s relationship with the Creek Indians.

Using Mary’s life as a narrative thread, Steven Hahn explores the connected histories of the Creek Indians and the colonies of South Carolina and Georgia. He demonstrates how the fluidity of race and gender relations on the southern frontier eventually succumbed to more rigid hierarchies that supported the region’s emerging plantation system.

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