Passing in Boston: The Story of the Healy Family

Posted in History, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, United States, Videos on 2016-09-01 01:15Z by Steven

Passing in Boston: The Story of the Healy Family

WGBHForum
2014-03-26

Boston College history professor, James O’Toole discusses his newest book Passing for White: Race, Religion, and the Healy Family, 1820-1920, which documents the extraordinary life of the Healy brothers of Boston.

In the mid-1800’s, the Healy brothers of Boston, James, Patrick, and Sherwood, looked like the picture of Catholic success. James was bishop of Portland, Maine; Patrick, president of Georgetown University; and Sherwood, chief supervisor of the building of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. The Healy’s were not typical members of the Boston Catholic elite, but the children of a multiracial slave couple from Georgia.

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BEAUTIFUL ANITA HEMMING. STORY OF THE VASSAR GRADUATE BORN OF NEGROES.

Posted in Articles, Biography, Campus Life, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-06-17 00:49Z by Steven

BEAUTIFUL ANITA HEMMING. STORY OF THE VASSAR GRADUATE BORN OF NEGROES.

The Sacramento Daily Record-Union
Friday, 1897-09-24
page 6, columns 1-4
Source: Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress.

STORY OF THE VASAR GRADUATE BORN OF NEGROS

She Kept the Secret of Her Birth for Years From Her Roommate.

This is the story of Anita Hemming of Vassar, ’97. In all the news of the past week there has been nothing more dramatic than the story of this woman and the sudden revelation of the secret she had kept so well, says the New York “World.” The public was told that one of the most beautiful, the most brilliant, and the most charming graduates of this year’s class at Vassar was a negro girl. The public was intensely interested, but to no one did the revelation come with such over whelming surprise as to the classmates with whom Miss Hemming had been so closely associated for four years. In no mind, until very recently, had there been the slightest suspicion of the truth.

The story of Miss Hemming’s college life and of the influences and characteristics that made her what she is will be told here. There is interest in it, as well as a moral lesson. There is inspiration, too, in the splendid triumph of this young woman who came into life so heavily handicapped for the career she has achieved. These are the things that she has done. How she has accomplished them and the manner in which she has surmounted all obstacles will be told in detail later on.

In 1888 she was graduated from the Prince Grammar School, Boston, at the head of her class.

In 1890 she completed, with the highest honors, the full course of the Girls’ English High School in Boston.

Subsequently she attended Dwight L. Moody’s School, at Northfield, Mass., and there prepared for the entrance examination of Vassar, astonishing her teachers and associates by her brilliant work.

In 1893 she entered Vassar, from which she has this year been graduated with high honors.

During her four years at college she was a prominent and brilliant figure in the life of the great institution. She became a leader among the girls, a member of the most exclusive college societies, a guest in the best Poughkeepsie families, and the idol of a large following of enthusiastic freshmen. She was lovingly called “the beautiful brunette.” It was supposed that she had Spanish or possibly Indian blood in her veins. No one dreamed that in a little, modest Boston home there lived an honest mulatto who was the father and a prepossessing mulatto woman who was her mother. Both of these were light in color, with the mixed blood of their race, regular features and a clear olive complexion which many a white woman would give much to possess.

To these parents Anita was born twenty-five years ago. Her father was a clever and industrious man. He worked hard, and almost from the beginning he was able to give his family the advantages offered by the average white husband and father of the middle class. Anita had a happy childhood. She was sent to school, where she associated with the white children of her age. At this time there was no effort made by her parents to conceal the negro strain in her blood. It was probably the unconscious shrinking away from her of some playmate that first taught the colored child her own aloofness and showed her that she must make much of life’s journey alone. The thought did not discourage the ambitious little girl, who quietly laid out the plan of life which she has so consistently followed. In her wish for an education she had her father’s affectionate support and aid. She entered the Prince Grammar School in Boston, where she is still remembered as one of its brightest pupils. At the end of two years, during which she easily distanced all of her associates, she graduated at the head of her class. This honor secured her entrance to the Girls’ English High School, for four years she gained new laurels and wore them modestly.

Just at this time she met the woman who has probably had most Influence in the young girl’s life. The woman was a philanthropist. She had broad sympathies and keen observation. She met Anita at Trinity Church, Boston, where the girl had been a communicant since childhood. The clear-headed and sympathetic woman of the world be came deeply Interested in the beautiful colored girl who was making such a steady, brave, up-hill fight against environment and tradition. She suggested college, and in the contemplation of this vista, of delight Anita almost forgot her peculiar relations to the world of ideas, achievements, and white skins. She entered Moody’s preparatory school at Northfield, and it is at this point that her career may be said to have really begun. She was at this time a girl of twenty, with a beautiful face, a splendid intellect, and a habit of retrospection. Her parents mingled wholly with their colored friends, and her home life had brought her into contact with the people of her own race. The line between her and the life she wished to lead seemed very sharply drawn. There was nothing about her, however, to suggest her negro blood. Her skin was a clear olive, her eyes soft and dark, and her hair straight as an Indian’s, her figure and carriage perfect. She looked like a Spanish or Italian girl.

At Northfield Miss Hemming first had the experience of associating intimately with girls not of her own race. Her roommate there, however, was a Miss Bessie Baker, a mulatto like her self. Miss Baker has since become the wife of W. H. Lewis, a well known negro citizen of Boston, who was known in his college days as Harvard’s great center rush. Miss Hemming was bridesmaid at the wedding, which occurred last autumn. She is now the guest of Mrs. Lewis in the latter’s home on Columbus Avenue, Boston.

During the year at Northfield the two colored girls were closely associated with the social as well as the educational life at Mr. Moody’s school. Strangers looking at either of them had no suspicion of the presence of a strain of negro blood. Their classmates seemed to have forgotten it. The happy life there and the temporary absence of the cloud that had hung over her may have aided Miss Hemming in her resolve to enter Vassar without the great handicap which she had carried so long. She determined to conceal the fact of her negro origin. This implied no false statements. She had merely to let it be assumed that she was as the others were.

Miss Hemming entered Vassar. No one asked her whether she was negro or New Englander, Indian or Spanish. She was young, brilliant and beautiful. That was enough. She had passed an excellent entrance examination. She had met the necessary requirements as to “good moral character.” She promptly and quietly took her place at the head of her classes, friends flocked around her, professors praised her, she was initiated into the mysteries of secret societies and midnight “fudge” parties. Her college career had begun.

For almost a year she kept her secret well. Then she suddenly disclosed it. Perhaps it weighed upon her mind, and she told it to obtain relief. Perhaps the disclosure was accidental. No one knows. But the girl chose her confidant wisely. She told her story to a member of the faculty–one of the most popular professors in the college. This woman’s attitude toward her brilliant pupil may be assumed from the fact that she subsequently visited Anita at her Boston home during the holidays. The Hemming’s were humble people, and they made no effort to conceal the fact from the college professor who was their guest. Their friends and associates were colored people. There was no pretense of being white.

With the exception of this friend Miss Hemming entertained no guests from Vassar in her Boston home. The professor, like Anita, kept the secret well. Anita’s roommate was a beautiful and popular student, whose family held a high social position. Not even this girl suspected the truth for years. When she did Anita’s first great trouble came. Miss Hemming’s progress through Vassar was a triumphal one. She had a beautiful voice, hence she joined the glee club. She was also taken into the choir and became a leader in the musical set of the college. She joined the choral club. As the months passed she was made a member of other college associations. Among these were the Contemporary Club, the ’97 Federal Debating Society, a Greek club, and the Marshall Club. But these were not all her triumphs.

There are dances and festival days at Vassar. in which Harvard, Yale and Princeton men are allowed to participate. In large numbers these young men bowed at Anita’s shrine. It was a their bows with an agonized fear. She sobriquet by which she became renowned–“the beautiful brunette.”

It was her roommate who finally caused the temporary downfall of this striking figure from its fine college eminence. In some manner this girl had discovered that Anita was of negro parentage. She immediately changed her room and discontinued the acquaintanceship. It was the first blow in the colored girl’s college course–and it was a bitter one. Anita awaited further blows with an agonized fear. She knew that the story would spread like wildfire through the college, and she felt that the upbuilding of the structure she had raised was but a waste of time. To what end was all her work and study, if the friends she loved turned from her and the college she loved closed its doors to her. No one knows what the girl suffered, for she never told”. She kept to herself, withdrew from her associates, and became absorbed in her work. But they would not have it so. For some reason the roommate, too, kept the secret. A few rumors started, but were immediately scoffed down. As the weeks passed, and her friends still rallied around her. Anita breathed again. She had had a narrow and a most dramatic escape.

During the last year of her college career Miss Hemming held one of the most prominent positions in the institution. It was admitted that she would graduate among the first. Without effort she held her supremacy as student and leader in the college set. She had never been a solitary or a “dig“–two unpopular types at college. During her last year it was natural that she should cling fondly to the friends she had made and the social environment of which she knew she could never be sure again. She was a fascinating woman and professors and students and strangers alike fell under these charms she exercised during these last months. In the midst of all this the revelation came.

Once more the little rumors began to circulate–this time more loudly and persistently than ever before. The girls began to eye her curiously, wondering ly. She knew that they were commenting, discussing. There was bitterness beyond words in this to the proud, sensitive woman. To her these girls had become to seem like sisters. To them she was merely a creature to be discussed as a problem, a phenomenon. In grief and humiliation she went to a member of the college faculty and in plain words told her story. There was nothing more for her to do but await the result.

A faculty council followed. Some of the professors had surmised the truth. Every one knew it now. President Taylor himself advised that at so late a day no official action should be taken to prevent the girl from graduating with her classmates. And so Miss Hemming’s fate was decided. But she had worked harder than two-thirds of her class and was graciously permitted, as a favor, to take equal rank with the members of that class.

Miss Hemming carried off the honors of commencement day. In the circumstances it was not as happy an occasion as her splendid record deserved, but she made the best of it.

Having graduated she went at once to Boston. Within a month her story was given to the whole world. It will be a pleasant surprise to her, perhaps, to discover how much broader the point of view is, sometimes, outside of college walls. She has secured a position in the catalogue department of the Boston Public Library, and here she has begun her post-college career. She has already won the interest of wise men and women broad enough to appreciate her struggle with a “problem” larger than she is, and to glory in the way she has solved it.

In the many conversations with her since her story has been made public Miss Hemming has attempted no defense of her position other than to say no one asked her while she was in college if she were white or colored. She takes the ground that she was not under moral obligations to announce her origin. She says she entered college as any student would enter, purely on her merits and ability to pay the tuition demanded. Since she has become so conspicuous she has had much difficulty in avoiding persons who wish to see and talk with her. She has been asked by at least a dozen publications to write her impressions of college life, and she has had generous offers for manuscript from many large newspapers. Her work in the catalogue department of the Boston Public Library occupies her from “8 o’clock in the morning until 5 in the afternoon.”

During her office hours nobody is permitted to see her, and when her work is finished she goes to the home of J. H. Lewis, a colored tailor, with whose wife, as before mentioned, she is living during the absence of her family at College City. In contrast to her college career, her life is a lonely one. She denies herself to all callers, except her most intimate friends.

Miss Hemming’s own home is at No. 9 Sussex Street. She has two brothers and a sister. One of her brothers–Frederic–was graduated from the Institute of Technology–last spring as a chemist. He is a dark and handsome youth, much like his sister in appearance. He visited her at Vassar on several occasions during her life there. The other children are still very young, but will be given educational advantages equal to those of their brilliant sister and brother.

Miss Hemming’s parents, as has been said, are both light in color. The father is five feet six inches tall, has gray eyes, good features, and wears side whiskers cut after the English fashion. His eyebrows are heavy and arching, and his hair straight. Mrs. Hemming, though darker than her husband, is a fine-looking woman. Her straight black hair is lightly streaked with gray. Both parents are quiet, refined and exceedingly ambitious in behalf of their children. In speaking of his beautiful daughter last week Mr. Hemming admitted that she had gone to Vassar as a white girl and had remained there as such.

“As long as she conducted herself in a manner becoming a lady,” he said, “she did not think it necessary to proclaim the fact that her parents were mulattoes. She was always a quiet, studious girl, and from the time she first went to school books were her chief pleasure. She did not care to associate with other children. She preferred to spend her time reading her favorite authors.”

“Vassar was her ideal college. From the time she decided to go to college there was never any doubt in her mind as to the institution she preferred. Vassar it was, first, last and always.” Miss Hemming’s hostess, Mrs. Lewis, also valiantly upholds the young woman’s attitude in college. A mulatto herself, and a woman who has experienced much that Miss Hemming has had to suffer, she can appreciate, perhaps, better than any one else, the point of view of her much-discussed friend.

“Miss Hemming,” said Mrs. Lewis, “has not reflected an atom of discredit on Vassar or upon any other pupil. She is good and true and refined. She is a gentlewoman by nature and education. Because her face did not tell her secret should she have gone about placarded ‘I am colored?'”

“At first, I know, she thought of telling her associates at Vassar what she was. She was told by an excellent authority that it was not necessary for her to do this. So she kept her own counsel, and in doing so she did wisely. She could ornament any society. She proved this at Vassar, and I have faith enough in her to believe that she will prove it in the future as well as she has done in the past. Her record at Vassar is in fact the best answer that can be given to all the questions asked about her since her story has been made public. She was admired and loved there, and put forward in all things. No one could know Miss Hemming well and not love her.”

That all Vassar has not turned from Miss Hemming was shown last week by the visit of several Vassar girls, who called on her at her home and bore her off to the hotel to dine. The revelations concerning her negro blood and the notoriety to which she has been subjected did not count with these loyal friends against the charm of the woman and the bonds of college life.

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Any new kid I met—black, white, or ­whatever—had just one question for me: “What are you?” Always.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-11-04 04:08Z by Steven

In school, there were rules. You stuck with the kids from your neighborhood. In the instances when we were forced to interact with Eastie kids, especially the black kids, it was confusing for everybody—I know I’m supposed to hate you but I have to pick you for my kickball team. So then we would be friends for that brief period of time, but it was a distant, temporary friendship. I was aware that I couldn’t get too close to them. I figured if I were friends with a black kid, it would confirm to everyone that I was really black. I was managing an already teetering identity in Southie, and I couldn’t afford it. Besides, they didn’t want to be friends with me either. They saw me as a race traitor, a white wannabe, a defector.

Any new kid I met—black, white, or ­whatever—had just one question for me: “What are you?” Always. I learned quickly that my mother’s answer didn’t work. “I’m Irish” was met with skepticism, laughter, or confusion: “And what else?” Even adults would give me a fake smile, and I knew they didn’t believe me. Black kids would say, “Oh, you think you’re white, bitch?” Spanish kids just spoke Spanish to me—“¿Cómo se llama?”—and when I stood there in silence, they called me “puta,” sucked their teeth, and walked away.

Jennifer J. Roberts, “One of Us,” Boston Magazine, November 2014. http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/article/2014/10/28/jennifer-roberts-irish-black-race-southie/.

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BU community urged to increase open, uncomfortable conversation

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-11-04 02:23Z by Steven

BU community urged to increase open, uncomfortable conversation

The Daily Free Press
The independent student newspaper at Boston University
ISSN 1094-7337
2015-11-03

Joe Becker


Keynote speaker and comedian W. Kamau Bell speaks about his mixed race children during “Let’s Talk About It,” a dialogue about race, identity and social action, on Monday night. PHOTO BY BRITTANY CHANG/DAILY FREE PRESS CONTRIBUTOR

Boston University College of Arts and Sciences Student Programs and Leadership hosted the “Let’s Talk About It: Race, Power and Privilege” talk Monday evening, featuring a keynote and question-and-answer session with socio-political comedian W. Kamau Bell. The dialogue touched on the social fabric on campus and around the country.

More than 100 attendees, comprised of mostly students and faculty, gathered in the Metcalf Hall of the George Sherman Union. Sitting at round tables, attendees, assisted by a minimum of one student facilitator, engaged in intimate conversations with each other throughout the event.

Bell elicited humor from often-uncomfortable social issues in his talk. He spoke of his interracial marriage with a white woman and the difficulties of talking about race and racism with his two mixed-race daughters.

“Remember the first time you saw an iPad? That’s how people react to mixed-race children,” he said during the event. “It’s not that big of a deal. You can tell kids anything. The construct of race is real, and racism is definitely real.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Redefining Racial Categories: The Dynamics of Identity Among Brazilian-Americans

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-09-02 21:49Z by Steven

Redefining Racial Categories: The Dynamics of Identity Among Brazilian-Americans

Immigrants & Minorities: Historical Studies in Ethnicity, Migration and Diaspora
Volume 33, Issue 1, 2015
pages 45-65
DOI: 10.1080/02619288.2014.909732

Catarina Fritz
Department of Sociology and Corrections
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Research based on a sample of Brazilian youth living in Massachusetts reveals a variety of responses to racialisation of their phenotypes. Caught between the fluid patterns of colour categories found in Brazilian society and the more rigid racial stratification that characterises the USA, Brazilian-Americans have followed a variety of strategies to adapt to this situation. By exploring the reactions of these young adults of different appearance along the colour continuum to the constraints of the dominant society, questions concerning the future dynamics of race relations in the USA are raised against a background of the continuing post-racialism debate.

Read or purchase the article here.

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On Martha’s Vineyard, black elites ponder the past year

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-08-24 01:16Z by Steven

On Martha’s Vineyard, black elites ponder the past year

Politico
2015-08-22

Sara Wheaton, White House Reporter

As Obama vacations on the island, an upper-class gathering grapples with a year of unrest.

EDGARTOWN, Mass. – For America’s black elite, this year’s seasonal sojourn to Martha’s Vineyard turned into a soul-searching retreat.

The shooting of a young, unarmed black man in Ferguson, Mo., last year did little to disrupt the annual idyll of upper-class blacks on this island 1,200 miles away. Photos showed President Barack Obama dancing at a soiree for political power couple Vernon and Ann Jordan as Ferguson burned. The next afternoon he delivered an anodyne statement urging calm without mentioning race.

Obama returned this year for his sixth summer in office on Martha’s Vineyard, the island off the Massachusetts coast that has been a vacation destination for upwardly mobile African Americans for more than a century. But this year, many of the black doctors, lawyers, executives, professors and politicians who gather here to enjoy the sunshine, surf and cultural events are grappling with the realization that there may not be quite as much to celebrate as they once hoped.

Yes, the country has been led by a black president for nearly seven years. But images from body cameras and smart phones that have splashed police killings of unarmed black men across televisions and the Internet over the past year have forced the black elite to recognize — along with the rest of America — that their highest tide has left some boats sinking faster than ever…

Read the entire article here.

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Naming this era of racial contradictions

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2015-07-31 20:16Z by Steven

Naming this era of racial contradictions

The Boston Globe
2015-08-01

Farah Stockman

We’re entering a new era of race relations in America — a crazy, conflicting, potentially explosive era yet to be named.

Maybe it’s an era of white insecurity about racial identity as the country moves toward a nonwhite majority. Dylann Roof, who murdered nine black people in a church, and Rachel Dolezal, who declared herself black on national television, could be two sides of that coin.

Or maybe it’s an era of increasing black confidence. What’s unprecedented about the spate of black people who’ve died in police custody is not the deaths themselves — those are sadly not new — but rather the fact that they’re being covered prominently on national news.

There’s something else notable about our conversations on race today: the disconnect between where we are in 2015 and where we thought we’d be. The half-finished project of racial equality in the United States leaves us with a parade of endless contradictions.

We overwhelmingly support the idea of integration. Yet, 75 percent of white people don’t have a single black friend, and 66 percent of black people don’t have a white one.

In a city like Boston, poor kids tend to go to poor schools, and wealthy kids to affluent schools.

We elected a black president. Yet we still incarcerate blacks at nearly six times the rate of whites. We’ve had not one but two black secretaries of state. Yet, a study shows that women with “black-sounding” names — like Lakisha and Aisha — still have a hard time getting hired as secretaries.

Read the entire article here.

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The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts

Posted in Books, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2015-07-13 02:00Z by Steven

The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts

Harvard University Press
April 2015
288 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
11 halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674967625

Amber D. Moulton, Researcher
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Well known as an abolitionist stronghold before the Civil War, Massachusetts had taken steps to eliminate slavery as early as the 1780s. Nevertheless, a powerful racial caste system still held sway, reinforced by a law prohibiting “amalgamation”—marriage between whites and blacks. The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts chronicles a grassroots movement to overturn the state’s ban on interracial unions. Assembling information from court and church records, family histories, and popular literature, Amber D. Moulton recreates an unlikely collaboration of reformers who sought to rectify what, in the eyes of the state’s antislavery constituency, appeared to be an indefensible injustice.

Initially, activists argued that the ban provided a legal foundation for white supremacy in Massachusetts. But laws that enforced racial hierarchy remained popular even in Northern states, and the movement gained little traction. To attract broader support, the reformers recalibrated their arguments along moral lines, insisting that the prohibition on interracial unions weakened the basis of all marriage, by encouraging promiscuity, prostitution, and illegitimacy. Through trial and error, reform leaders shaped an appeal that ultimately drew in Garrisonian abolitionists, equal rights activists, antislavery evangelicals, moral reformers, and Yankee legislators, all working to legalize interracial marriage.

This pre–Civil War effort to overturn Massachusetts’ antimiscegenation law was not a political aberration but a crucial chapter in the deep history of the African American struggle for equal rights, on a continuum with the civil rights movement over a century later.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Amalgamation and the Massachusetts Ban on Interracial Marriage
  • 2. Interracial Marriage as an Equal Rights Measure
  • 3. Moral Reform and the Protection of Northern Motherhood
  • 4. Anti-Southern Politics and Interracial Marriage Rights
  • 5. Advancing Interracialism
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
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Amherst Together asking for poems about identity, presenting 1-woman performance on notion of race

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-03-26 20:53Z by Steven

Amherst Together asking for poems about identity, presenting 1-woman performance on notion of race

MassLive
2015-03-24

Diane Lederman, Reporter
The Springfield Republican


Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni is bringing her one-woman show “One Drop of Love” to Amherst Middle School April 15 as part of the Amherst Together initiative. (Submitted)

AMHERST, [Massachusetts] – Since July, Carol Ross has been doing a lot of listening and a lot of information collecting.

But she said she is happy with the progress that Amherst Together is making.

She was hired by the town and the schools as the media and climate communications specialist to foster collaboration to help create a community in which people feel like they belong.

She met with the Select Board recently for a brief update and then Tuesday answered questions.

She expects that they will have finished collecting data on the community survey in April. The survey was developed with a public participation class in the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Department at the University of Massachusetts. She will get help from Amherst College in interpreting the data as well.

They need about 75 more to answer it from targeted neighborhoods. The survey is intended to find out what the community’s values are to get a sense of the kind of community people want to see. That will help lead to a larger conversation later.

And on April 15, they are bringing Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni to the Amherst Regional Middle School at 7 p.m. for a free one-woman performance called “One Drop of Love.”

Produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, the show incorporates “filmed images, photographs and animation to tell the story of how the notion of race came to be in the United Sates and how it affected her relationship with her father,” according to a press release

As Ross said in a press release describing the show as well as in her interview, her work is not just about race…

Read the entire article here.

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Edward Brooke, first black elected U.S. senator, dies at 95

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-01-04 01:02Z by Steven

Edward Brooke, first black elected U.S. senator, dies at 95

USA Today
2015-01-03

Natalie DiBlasio

Former Massachusetts U.S. senator Edward Brooke, the first African American to be elected to the Senate by popular vote, has died at age 95.

Ralph Neas, a former aide, said Brooke died Saturday of natural causes at his home in Coral Gables, Fla.

“We lost a truly remarkable public servant,” says Massachusetts Gov.-elect Charlie Baker. “A war hero, a champion of equal rights for all and an example that barriers can be broken, Sen. Brooke accomplished more than most aspire to.”

The only blacks to serve in the Senate before Brooke were two men in the 1870s when senators were still chosen by state legislatures.

Brooke, a liberal Republican, was elected to the Senate in 1966 and served two terms. He earned his reputation as a liberal after becoming the first Republican senator to publicly urge President Nixon to resign…

…Historian Dennis Nordin has researched and written about African-American politicians and devoted a chapter to Brooke in his book, From Edward Brooke to Barack Obama: African American Political Success, 1966-2008.

Nordin told The Greenville News that Brooke’s political career shows independence from the GOP…

Read the entire obituary here.

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