SC senator’s ‘reply all’ disrupts unveiling of Black Reconstruction lawmaker’s portrait

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2021-10-21 15:07Z by Steven

SC senator’s ‘reply all’ disrupts unveiling of Black Reconstruction lawmaker’s portrait

The State
Columbia, South Carolina
2021-10-16

Caitlin Byrd

This image shows the portrait of Stephen Swails, which now hangs in the state Senate chambers. This image was attached to the email sent to state lawmakers on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2021.

CHARLESTON, S.C.—In South Carolina, a state with a painful legacy of racism, a white lawmaker on Thursday fired off an email that casually challenged the complexion of a Black Reconstruction-era lawmaker, whose portrait now hangs in a place of honor inside the State House.

And, thanks to the modern-day perils of the reply-all email, now all 46 of South Carolina’s state senators, their staff and the senate clerk, know what Charleston Republican Sandy Senn thought when she saw the portrait of Stephen Atkins Swails.

“That sure is the whitest looking black guy I’ve ever seen,” the senator from Charleston wrote in a message that included an emoji symbol [🤷‍♂️] of a person shrugging…

…Swails was born in Pennsylvania to a Black father and a white mother in 1832, and made his way to South Carolina first as a military man.

He stormed Fort Wagner on Morris Island as a member of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, one of the nation’s first Black fighting units whose story would later be immortalized in the film “Glory.”

In 1865, he became the first commissioned African American officer in the Union Army. After his military service, Swails stayed in the Palmetto State, where he worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau to help newly freed slaves in the South

Read the entire article here.

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My Monticello, Fiction

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Novels, United States, Virginia on 2021-10-21 00:21Z by Steven

My Monticello, Fiction

Henry Holt & Company (an imprint of Macmillan)
2021-10-05
240 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781250807151
e-Book ISBN: 9781250807168
Audiobook ISBN: 9781250820723
Compact Disk ISBN: 9781250820716

Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

A young woman descended from Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings driven from her neighborhood by a white militia. A university professor studying racism by conducting a secret social experiment on his own son. A single mother desperate to buy her first home even as the world hurtles toward catastrophe. Each fighting to survive in America.

Tough-minded, vulnerable, and brave, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s precisely imagined debut explores burdened inheritances and extraordinary pursuits of belonging. Set in the near future, the eponymous novella, “My Monticello,” tells of a diverse group of Charlottesville neighbors fleeing violent white supremacists. Led by Da’Naisha, a young Black descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, they seek refuge in Jefferson’s historic plantation home in a desperate attempt to outlive the long-foretold racial and environmental unravelling within the nation.

In “Control Negro,” hailed by Roxane Gay as “one hell of story,” a university professor devotes himself to the study of racism and the development of ACMs (average American Caucasian males) by clinically observing his own son from birth in order to “painstakingly mark the route of this Black child too, one whom I could prove was so strikingly decent and true that America could not find fault in him unless we as a nation had projected it there.” Johnson’s characters all seek out home as a place and an internal state, whether in the form of a Nigerian widower who immigrates to a meager existence in the city of Alexandria, finding himself adrift; a young mixed-race woman who adopts a new tongue and name to escape the landscapes of rural Virginia and her family; or a single mother who seeks salvation through “Buying a House Ahead of the Apocalypse.”

United by these characters’ relentless struggles against reality and fate, My Monticello is a formidable book that bears witness to this country’s legacies and announces the arrival of a wildly original new voice in American fiction.

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Coast Guard: Wreck found in Atlantic is storied cutter Bear

Posted in Articles, History, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2021-10-17 03:10Z by Steven

Coast Guard: Wreck found in Atlantic is storied cutter Bear

The Washington Post
2021-10-14

Mark Pratt, Reporter/Editor
The Associated Press

In this July 1908 photograph provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear sits at anchor while on Bering Sea Patrol off Alaska. The wreckage of the storied vessel, that served in two World Wars and patrolled frigid Arctic waters for decades, has been found, the Coast Guard said Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office via AP) (Uncredited/U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office)

BOSTON — The wreck of a storied military ship that served in two World Wars, performed patrols in waters off Alaska for decades, and at one point was captained by the first Black man to command a U.S. government vessel has been found, the Coast Guard said Thursday.

A wreck thought to be the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear, which sank in 1963 about 260 miles east of Boston as it was being towed to Philadelphia, where it was going to be converted into a floating restaurant, was located in 2019.

But it was only in August that a team of experts looking at the evidence came to the conclusion that they are “reasonably certain” that the wreck is indeed the Bear, officials of the Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said at a waterfront news conference in Boston.

“At the time of the loss of Bear, it was already recognized as a historic ship,” said Joe Hoyt, of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

…Thursday’s announcement coincided with the arrival in Boston of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, named after the Bear’s captain from 1886 until 1895, Michael “Hell Roaring Mike” Healy.

The Healy, an icebreaker commissioned in 1999, recently completed a transit of the Arctic Northwest Passage.

Healy, born in 1839, was the son of a Georgia plantation owner and a slave. Healy’s father sent him to Massachusetts to escape enslavement, [William] Thiesen said.

He likened the Healy — commissioned by Abraham Lincoln a month before the president’s assassination — to an Old West sheriff, whose jurisdiction was an area the size of the lower 48 states.

“While he never, during his lifetime, self-identified as African American, perhaps to avoid the prejudice he would likely have encountered in his personal life and career, he was in reality the first person of African American descent to command a ship of the U.S. Government,” a NOAA news release said…

Read the entire article here.

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Beyond Slavery’s Shadow: Free People of Color in the South

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2021-10-11 18:22Z by Steven

Beyond Slavery’s Shadow: Free People of Color in the South

University of North Carolina Press
October 2021
76 pages
6.125 x 9.25
14 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6439-2
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6438-5

Warren Eugene Milteer Jr., Assistant Professor of History
University of North Carolina, Greensboro

On the eve of the Civil War, most people of color in the United States toiled in bondage. Yet nearly half a million of these individuals, including over 250,000 in the South, were free. In Beyond Slavery’s Shadow, Warren Eugene Milteer Jr. draws from a wide array of sources to demonstrate that from the colonial period through the Civil War, the growing influence of white supremacy and proslavery extremism created serious challenges for free persons categorized as “negroes,” “mulattoes,” “mustees,” “Indians,” or simply “free people of color” in the South. Segregation, exclusion, disfranchisement, and discriminatory punishment were ingrained in their collective experiences. Nevertheless, in the face of attempts to deny them the most basic privileges and rights, free people of color defended their families and established organizations and businesses.

These people were both privileged and victimized, both celebrated and despised, in a region characterized by social inconsistency. Milteer’s analysis of the way wealth, gender, and occupation intersected with ideas promoting white supremacy and discrimination reveals a wide range of social interactions and life outcomes for the South’s free people of color and helps to explain societal contradictions that continue to appear in the modern United States.

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The children born to Black American GIs and white British women during Second World War

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2021-10-10 21:46Z by Steven

The children born to Black American GIs and white British women during Second World War

The Bristol Post
Bristol, England, United Kingdom
2021-10-08

Hannah Simpson

Interracial couples dancing in England during WWII (Image: www.mixedmuseum.org.uk/brown-babies ‘Courtesy of Gregory S. Cooke Collection’)

The children, who came to be known by the British press as the nation’s “Brown Babies”, grew up in post-war Britain

During World War II, around one million American troops arrived in England to prepare for the invasion of Europe and to assist Great Britain in the fight against Nazi Germany.

Of these GIs, 130,000 were African American who landed in cities such as Bristol between 1942 and 1945.

For many Brits, this was their first time meeting a person of colour, but in Bristol, the public were incredibly welcoming to their American visitors, with some pubs such as The Colston Arms refusing to adhere to US segregation practices.

America’s stringent Jim Crow laws were not limited to the United States alone, as the army was officially segregated until 1948…

…Professor of social and cultural history at Anglia Ruskin University, Lucy Bland said: “From all accounts a lot of local people much preferred the Black GIs…

Read the entire article here.

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Born into slavery, they rose to be elite New York Jews. A new book tells their story.

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Interviews, Judaism, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2021-10-08 14:05Z by Steven

Born into slavery, they rose to be elite New York Jews. A new book tells their story.

Religion News Service
2021-10-05

Yonat Shimron, National Reporter and Senior Editor


Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multiracial Jewish Family” and author Laura Arnold Leibman. Courtesy images

In her new book, ‘Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multiracial Jewish Family,’ Laura Arnold Leibman shows that Jews were not only slave owners. They were also slaves.

(RNS) — Jews are proud of the biblical story from Exodus that recounts their deliverance from slavery in Egypt in the third century B.C.

But few U.S. Jews consider that some of their ancestors were slaves in the trans-Atlantic slave trade that ended in the 19th century.

In her new book, “Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multiracial Jewish Family,” Laura Arnold Leibman, a Reed College English professor, conclusively shows that Jews, who were typically thought of as white, were not only slave owners. They were also slaves.

Leibman does this by excavating the genealogies of Sarah and Isaac Lopez Brandon, siblings born in the late 18th century to a wealthy Barbadian Jewish businessman and an enslaved woman. The siblings eventually made it New York, where they were able to pass as white. They became accomplished and affluent members of New York City’s oldest Jewish congregation, Shearith Israel.

Sarah and Isaac’s father, Abraham Rodriguez Brandon, was a Sephardic Jew who traced his ancestry to the expulsion of Jews from Spain. He settled in Barbados as part of a Jewish community of between 400 and 500 families that worked on the island’s sugar plantations and refineries.

Brandon secured his children’s manumission fees, and in 1801 they became “free mulattos.” In Barbados, that still meant they could not vote or hold office, or for that matter be married in the island’s synagogue or buried in its cemetery.

But America was kinder to them. Both Sarah and Isaac immigrated to America and married into prominent and wealthy U.S. Jewish families while hiding their past. One granddaughter had no clue about their origins.

Religion News Service talked to Leibman about her discovery of the Brandon genealogy and what it means for the U.S. Jewish community to grapple with its multiracial past and present. The interview was edited for length and clarity…

Read the entire interview here.

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The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, A Novel

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Novels, Slavery, United States on 2021-10-07 19:28Z by Steven

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, A Novel

HarperCollins
2021-08-24
816 pages
6x9in
Hardcover ISBN: 9780062942937
eBook ISBN: 9780062942968
Audiobook ISBN: 9780062942975

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Professor of English
University of Oklahoma, Norman

The 2020 National Book Award–nominated poet makes her fiction debut with this magisterial epic—an intimate yet sweeping novel with all the luminescence and force of Homegoing; Sing, Unburied, Sing; and The Water Dancer—that chronicles the journey of one American family, from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War to our own tumultuous era.

The great scholar, W. E. B. Du Bois, once wrote about the Problem of race in America, and what he called “Double Consciousness,” a sensitivity that every African American possesses in order to survive. Since childhood, Ailey Pearl Garfield has understood Du Bois’s words all too well. Bearing the names of two formidable Black Americans—the revered choreographer Alvin Ailey and her great grandmother Pearl, the descendant of enslaved Georgians and tenant farmers—Ailey carries Du Bois’s Problem on her shoulders.

Ailey is reared in the north in the City but spends summers in the small Georgia town of Chicasetta, where her mother’s family has lived since their ancestors arrived from Africa in bondage. From an early age, Ailey fights a battle for belonging that’s made all the more difficult by a hovering trauma, as well as the whispers of women—her mother, Belle, her sister, Lydia, and a maternal line reaching back two centuries—that urge Ailey to succeed in their stead.

To come to terms with her own identity, Ailey embarks on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors—Indigenous, Black, and white—in the deep South. In doing so Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story—and the song—of America itself.

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Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multi-Racial Jewish Family

Posted in Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Judaism, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2021-10-07 15:45Z by Steven

Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multi-Racial Jewish Family

Oxford University Press
2021-08-30
320 Pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780197530474

Laura Arnold Leibman, Professor of English and Humanities
Reed College, Portland, Oregon

Highlights

  • Provides a rare historical portrait of life as a Jewish American of color
  • Examines the history of racial “passing” in an international context
  • Uses an intersectional lens to untangle a family history

An obsessive genealogist and descendent of one of the most prominent Jewish families since the American Revolution, Blanche Moses firmly believed her maternal ancestors were Sephardic grandees. Yet she found herself at a dead end when it came to her grandmother’s maternal line. Using family heirlooms to unlock the mystery of Moses’s ancestors, Once We Were Slaves overturns the reclusive heiress’s assumptions about her family history to reveal that her grandmother and great-uncle, Sarah and Isaac Brandon, actually began their lives as poor Christian slaves in Barbados. Tracing the siblings’ extraordinary journey throughout the Atlantic World, Leibman examines artifacts they left behind in Barbados, Suriname, London, Philadelphia, and, finally, New York, to show how Sarah and Isaac were able to transform themselves and their lives, becoming free, wealthy, Jewish, and–at times–white. While their affluence made them unusual, their story mirrors that of the largely forgotten population of mixed African and Jewish ancestry that constituted as much as ten percent of the Jewish communities in which the siblings lived, and sheds new light on the fluidity of race–as well as on the role of religion in racial shift–in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Table of Contents

  • Illustrations
  • Preface
  • Chapter 1: Origins (Bridgetown, 1793-1798)
  • Chapter 2: From Slave to Free (Bridgetown, 1801)
  • Chapter 3: From Christian to Jew (Suriname, 1811-12)
  • Chapter 4: The Tumultuous Island (Bridgetown, 1812-1817)
  • Chapter 5: Synagogue Seats (New York & Philadelphia, 1793-1818)
  • Chapter 6: The Material of Race (London, 1815-17)
  • Chapter 7: Voices of Rebellion (Bridgetown, 1818-24)
  • Chapter 8: A Woman Valor (New York, 1817-19)
  • Chapter 9: This Liberal City (Philadelphia, 1818-33)
  • Chapter 10: Feverish Love (New York, 1819-1830)
  • Chapter 11: When I am Gone (New York, Barbados, London, 1830-1847)
  • Chapter 12: Legacies (New York and Beyond, 1841-1860)
  • Epilogue
  • Appendix: Family Trees
  • Abbreviations
  • Bibliography
  • Notes
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It’s Never Too Late to Publish a Debut Book and Score a Netflix Deal

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2021-10-03 03:22Z by Steven

It’s Never Too Late to Publish a Debut Book and Score a Netflix Deal

The New York Times
2021-09-28

Isaac Fitzgerald


Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, a public school art teacher for 20 years, is the author of “My Monticello,” her debut book. She also has a Netflix film deal. Matt Eich for The New York Times

Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, at 50, is not the average age of a debut author. But the public school teacher describes herself as a “literary debutante” with the October publication of “My Monticello.”

Jocelyn Nicole Johnson has been a public school art teacher for 20 years, but she is not in her elementary classroom this fall in Charlottesville, Va. Her debut collection, “My Monticello” — five short stories and the book’s title novella — will be published on Oct. 5. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead has called “My Monticello” “nimble, knowing, and electrifying,” and Esquire named “My Monticello,” published by Henry Holt, one of the best books of the fall, writing that it “announces the arrival of an electric new literary voice.”

To top that off, Netflix plans to turn the book’s title novella into a film. In the novella, which is set in the near future, a young woman who is descended from Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, and a band of largely Black and brown survivors take refuge from marauding white supremacists in Monticello, Jefferson’s homestead…

Read the entire interview here.

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Ralston, Elreta Melton Alexander

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-10-02 02:13Z by Steven

Ralston, Elreta Melton Alexander

NCPedia
State Library of North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
2013

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

Elreta Melton Alexander was a pioneering African-American attorney from Greensboro, North Carolina. Born in Smithfield, North Carolina, she was the daughter of a Baptist minister and a teacher, and grew up comfortably as a part of the black middle class. Coming of age during the Jim Crow period of the South, she was raised by her educated, middle-class parents to be a leader in the community. The descendant of two white grandparents, her bi-racialism formed her early awareness of colorism within the African-American community…

Read the entire article here.

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