How a slave’s daughter became an 1800s New Orleans entrepreneur: A Marigny cottage helps tell the tale

Posted in Articles, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Women on 2022-05-12 17:43Z by Steven

How a slave’s daughter became an 1800s New Orleans entrepreneur: A Marigny cottage helps tell the tale

NOLA.com
2022-05-09

Mike Scott, Contributing Writer

The house at 1515-17 Pauger St. in New Orleans sold in 2016 for $600,000.
(Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com |The Times-Picayune)

The little Creole cottage at 1515-17 Pauger St. in the Marigny Triangle is a humble one. Small and tidy, there would have been little to distinguish it from the countless other homes like it in New Orleans when it was built 200 years ago.

But sometimes a house is more than a house. Sometimes, the story it has to tell adds a little flavor to what it has to offer.

That’s precisely the case with the Pauger Street house, which stands out today as a beautifully preserved example of the bricks-between-posts construction — or briquette-entre-poteaux — so common during the city’s French colonial era.

Much more than that, although, the little home represents the indomitable spirit of the lady of shade who, in opposition to all odds, constructed it — presumably as a rental property, no much less — at a time wherein being White and male had been two of an important {qualifications} for such endeavors…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Life of Elreta Melton Alexander: Activism within the Courts

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2022-05-05 01:33Z by Steven

The Life of Elreta Melton Alexander: Activism within the Courts

University of Georgia Press
2022-05-01
224 pages
Illustrations: 11 b&w
Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in
Hardcover ISBN: 9-780-8203-6192-5
Paperback ISBN: 9-780-8203-6193-2

Virginia L. Summey, Historian, Author, and Faculty Fellow
Lloyd International Honors College, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

This book explores the life and contributions of groundbreaking attorney, Elreta Melton Alexander Ralston (1919-98). In 1945 Alexander became the first African American woman to graduate from Columbia Law School. In 1947 she was the first African American woman to practice law in the state of North Carolina, and in 1968 she became the first African American woman to become an elected district court judge. Despite her accomplishments, Alexander is little known to scholars outside of her hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina. Her life and career deserve recognition, however, not just because of her impressive lists of “firsts,” but also owing to her accomplishments during the civil rights movement in the U.S. South.

While Alexander did not actively participate in civil rights marches and demonstrations, she used her professional achievements and middle-class status to advocate for individuals who lacked a voice in the southern legal system. Virginia L. Summey argues that Alexander was integral to the civil rights movement in North Carolina as she, and women like her, worked to change discriminatory laws while opening professional doors for other minority women. Using her professional status, Alexander combatted segregation by demonstrating that Black women were worthy and capable of achieving careers alongside white men, thereby creating environments in which other African Americans could succeed. Her legal expertise and ability to reach across racial boundaries made her an important figure in Greensboro history.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Betty Reid Soskin: The extraordinary life of the nation’s oldest park ranger

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2022-04-21 21:39Z by Steven

Betty Reid Soskin: The extraordinary life of the nation’s oldest park ranger

Berkeleyside
Berkeley, California
2022-04-01

Daphne White

Betty Soskin in her living room. Photo: Daphne White

In this 2018 interview with Soskin who retired Thursday at the age of 100, the nation’s oldest park ranger said she considers herself “an absolutely ordinary extraordinary person.”

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in February 2018. We’re resharing it because Betty Reid Soskin, the nation’s oldest active park ranger, retired Thursday at the age of 100.

Betty Reid Soskin, 96, considers herself “an absolutely ordinary extraordinary person.”

Soskin has dated Jackie Robinson, co-founded Reid’s Records in Berkeley with her first husband, served as a “bag lady” (delivering cash) for the Black Panthers, and hobnobbed with the leaders of the human potential movement as a faculty wife with her second husband.

She also served in a Jim Crow segregated union hall in Richmond during World War II, experienced redlining in Berkeley when she tried to build her first house, moved to a racially-hostile Walnut Creek in the 1950s, and accidentally catapulted to fame in her 80s, as she brought her lived experience as a non-Rosie to the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Capital of Free Women: Race, Legitimacy, and Liberty in Colonial Mexico

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs, Women on 2022-04-21 17:01Z by Steven

The Capital of Free Women: Race, Legitimacy, and Liberty in Colonial Mexico

Yale University Press
2022-04-12
296 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
9 b/w illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 9780300258066

Danielle Terrazas Williams, Lecturer in the School of History
University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

A restoration of the agency and influence of free African-descended women in colonial Mexico through their traces in archives

The Capital of Free Women examines how African-descended women strove for dignity in seventeenth-century Mexico. Free women in central Veracruz, sometimes just one generation removed from slavery, purchased land, ran businesses, managed intergenerational wealth, and owned slaves of African descent. Drawing from archives in Mexico, Spain, and Italy, Danielle Terrazas Williams explores the lives of African-descended women across the economic spectrum, evaluates their elite sensibilities, and challenges notions of race and class in the colonial period.

Tags: , , , ,

Merle Oberon: India’s forgotten Hollywood star

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-04-21 14:39Z by Steven

Merle Oberon: India’s forgotten Hollywood star

BBC News
2022-04-16

Meryl Sebastian, BBC News, Delhi

Merle Oberon was born in Bombay

Merle Oberon, a Hollywood star of the black and white era, is a forgotten icon in India, the country of her birth.

Best-known for playing the lead in the classic Wuthering Heights, Oberon was an Anglo-Indian born in Bombay in 1911. But as a star in Hollywood’s Golden Age, she kept her background a secret – passing herself off as white – throughout her life.

Mayukh Sen, a US-based writer and academic, first stumbled across her name in 2009 when he found out that Oberon was the first actor of South Asian origin to be nominated for an Oscar.

His fascination grew as he saw her films and dug deeper into her past. “As a queer person, I empathise with this feeling that you must hide a part of your identity to survive in a hostile society that isn’t really ready to accept who you are,” he says. Sen is now working on a biography to tell Oberon’s story from a South Asian perspective…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Robin Thede Teases ‘Epic’ Return of ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’ on Variety’s ‘Through Our Lens’

Posted in Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Videos, Women on 2022-04-21 14:23Z by Steven

Robin Thede Teases ‘Epic’ Return of ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’ on Variety’s ‘Through Our Lens’

Variety
2022-04-02

Robin Thede, writer, comedian and creator of ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’, joins Variety’s Angelique Jackson on ‘Through Our Lens’ to discuss how her perspective as a Black woman has shaped her comedy career and outlook as a creator and showrunner.

Watch the interview here. Read the article here.

Tags: , , ,

June Shagaloff Alexander, School Desegregation Leader, Dies at 93

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States, Women on 2022-04-15 00:16Z by Steven

June Shagaloff Alexander, School Desegregation Leader, Dies at 93

The New York Times
2022-04-06

Clay Risen

June Shagaloff in 1953. Thurgood Marshall hired her out of college to work for the N.A.A.C.P. on school desegregation cases. Bill Sullivan/Newsday RM via Getty Images

She helped Thurgood Marshall prepare for his Supreme Court fight and later took on de facto school segregation across the North and West.

June Shagaloff Alexander, whose work for the N.A.A.C.P. and its legal arm in the 1950s and ’60s put her at the forefront of the nationwide fight for school integration and made her a close confidante of civil rights figures like Thurgood Marshall and James Baldwin, died on March 29 at her home in Tel Aviv. She was 93…

…Although she was white, her dark complexion sometimes led people to assume she was Black, to the point of barring her from certain whites-only public spaces, an experience that she said shaped her early commitment to civil rights.

But this ambiguity proved to be an asset in her work. When investigating a segregated school district, she would visit a white school pretending to be a prospective white parent, then do the same at a Black school, pretending to be a prospective Black parent — a ruse that gave her a unique, unvarnished view of the district’s education inequities…

Read the entire obituary here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Devil’s Half Acre: The Untold Story of How One Woman Liberated the South’s Most Notorious Slave Jail

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Virginia, Women on 2022-04-14 22:11Z by Steven

The Devil’s Half Acre: The Untold Story of How One Woman Liberated the South’s Most Notorious Slave Jail

Seal Press (an imprint of Basic Books)
2022-04-12
352 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781541675636
eBook ISBN-13: 9781541675629
Audiobook ISBN-13: 9781549193354

Kristen Green

The inspiring true story of an enslaved woman who liberated an infamous slave jail and transformed it into one of the nation’s first HBCUs

In The Devil’s Half Acre, New York Times bestselling author Kristen Green draws on years of research to tell the extraordinary and little-known story of young Mary Lumpkin, an enslaved woman who blazed a path of liberation for thousands. She was forced to have the children of a brutal slave trader and live on the premises of his slave jail, known as the “Devil’s Half Acre.” When she inherited the jail after the death of her slaveholder, she transformed it into “God’s Half Acre,” a school where Black men could fulfill their dreams. It still exists today as Virginia Union University, one of America’s first Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

A sweeping narrative of a life in the margins of the American slave trade, The Devil’s Half Acre brings Mary Lumpkin into the light. This is the story of the resilience of a woman on the path to freedom, her historic contributions, and her enduring legacy.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Stories of racial passing, from the pages of Nella Larsen to Detroit’s upper class

Posted in Articles, Audio, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-03-31 22:52Z by Steven

Stories of racial passing, from the pages of Nella Larsen to Detroit’s upper class

Stateside
Michigan Radio
2022-03-25

“Still’s Underground Rail Road Records,” 1886  /Boston African American National Historic Site

To escape slavery in Georgia, light-skinned Ellen Craft and her dark-skinned husband William posed, respectively, as a white gentleman traveling with his enslaved manservant in 1848.

Elsie Roxborough was born in 1914 in Detroit to one of Michigan’s most prominent Black families. When she died in New York City in 1949, her death certificate listed her race as white. She had lived there as a white woman for over a decade, working for a time as a model while aspiring to acclaim as a playwright.

“She almost immediately goes to New York City after graduation from the University of Michigan,” said Ken Coleman, a journalist who has researched the Roxborough family. Elsie Roxborough “at least professionally changed her name to Pat Rico at one point, and then ultimately, Mona Manet, and her brown, brownish-black hair becomes Lucille Ball auburn.”

Roxborough represents one of the few documented historical instances from Michigan of a Black person choosing to live nearly full-time as a member of white society. This phenomenon, known as racial passing, has received renewed popular attention through recent artistic works like Rebecca Hall’s film adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing and Britt Bennett’s novel The Vanishing Half

Listen to the story (00:19:36) here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Stateside Podcast: “Passing:” The Story of Elsie Roxborough

Posted in Audio, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-03-30 13:51Z by Steven

Stateside Podcast: “Passing:” The Story of Elsie Roxborough

Stateside
Michigan Radio
2022-03-24

University Of Michigan Alumni Association/Bentley Historical Library

Writer and reporter Ken Coleman tells the story of Detroiter Elsie Roxborough, who was born into a wealthy, Black family in Detroit. But when she died in 1939, her death certificate listed her as white.

In 1914, Elsie Roxborough was born into a wealthy, Black family in Detroit. But when she died in 1939, her death certificate listed her as white. Her life was rich, curious and at times, troubled, all while attempting a sort of high-wire-act of living multiple lives, between cities and names and races. Today, we talk about her life, death, and everything in between.

Listen to the story (00:19:36) here. Download the story here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,