An American Color: Race and Identity in New Orleans and the Atlantic World

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Louisiana, Monographs, United States on 2021-08-02 14:52Z by Steven

An American Color: Race and Identity in New Orleans and the Atlantic World

University of Georgia Press
2022-01-15
272 pages
Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in
Hardcover ISBN: 9-780-8203-6076-8
Paperback ISBN: 9-780-8203-6078-2

Andrew N. Wegmann, Associate Professor of History
Delta State University, Cleveland, Mississippi

For decades, scholars have conceived of the coastal city of New Orleans as a remarkable outlier, an exception to nearly every “rule” of accepted U.S. historiography. American only by adoption, New Orleans, in most studies, serves as a frontier town of the circum-Caribbean-a vestige of North America’s European colonial era along the southern coast of a foreign, northern, insular United States. Beneath that, too, many have argued, a complex algorithm of racial mixtures was at work well into the nineteenth century, a complexity of racial understanding and treatment that almost every scholar to date has claimed simply did not exist within the more “American” states further north and outside the bounds of the Caribbean’s bizarre socioracial influence.

The reality, as An American Color explains, is that on the surface, New Orleans did have a racial and social system that confounded the more prudent and established black-white binary at work in the social rhetoric of the British-descended states further north. But this was not unique, especially within the United States. As Andrew N. Wegmann argues, New Orleans is representative of a place with different words for the same practices found throughout the North American continent and the Atlantic world. From New Orleans to Charleston and Richmond, the social construction of race remained constant and Atlantic in nature, predicated on a complex, socially infused, multitier system of prescribed racial value that challenged and sometimes abandoned preordained definitions of “black” and “white” for an assortment of fluid but meaningful designations in between. New Orleans is thus an entry point for the study of color in an Atlantic United States.

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Pardo is the New Black: The Urban Origins of Argentina’s Myth of Black Disappearance

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2021-08-02 14:33Z by Steven

Pardo is the New Black: The Urban Origins of Argentina’s Myth of Black Disappearance

Global Urban History
2016-12-19

Erika Edwards, Associate Professor of History
University of North Carolina, Charlotte


Bernardino Rivadavia, Argentina’s first president (1826-27) was nicknamed “Doctor Chocolate.” Painting by Mirta Toledo, 2013

It was a typical day, nothing out of the ordinary. I, a young, small-town girl had landed in a foreign country to begin my study abroad. I knew nothing about Argentina and was excited to discover the country. It did not take long for me to realize that my experience would be life changing. Black in a very white country, I stood out like a sore thumb. I was the “other.” At first I was uncomfortable, but then, I realized that my blackness was not the same in Argentina as in the United States. My blackness meant something else. I was exotic, if not exceptional, and surprisingly I was not black! Instead I was morocha (a non-offensive term referring to darker skin). How could that be? I had transformed into a lighter version of myself. As I grew accustomed to being called morocha, I could not help wondering who constituted a morocha. Over time the answer became apparent: anyone who was not white. Other countries had mestizos (Indian and white mixture/descendant), or mulattos (black and white), but Argentina had grouped African and Indian descendants and people with tanned skin tones, often descendants of immigrants from Mediterranean countries, into a single category. Argentines proclaimed there “were no blacks in their country,” but the country certainly had a lot of morochos! Despite the lack of African descendants’ visibility today, in 1778 they had a significant share of the national population. Concentrated in cities, African descendants amounted to 44 percent of the inhabitants of the provincial city of Córdoba, for instance.[1] The decline of this population a national question for Argentina, whose black population dwindled from roughly 30 percent of the total population to 0.37 percent according to the 2010 census…

Read the entire article here.

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Lemuel Haynes

Posted in Biography, History, Media Archive, Religion, United States, Videos on 2021-08-01 22:53Z by Steven

Lemuel Haynes

Vermont History
Vermont Historical Society
Barre, VT
2019-10-03

Steve Perkins, Executive Director

Lemuel Haynes of Rutland, Vermont was an incredible Vermonter. Haynes, an African-American man, was a great writer, thinker, and minister. In 1785, he was one of the first, if not the first, African-Americans to be ordained into the Congregational Church in the whole United States and led a mostly white congregation for over 30 years.

Watch the video here.

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Historical Reformer – Lemuel Haynes

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2021-08-01 22:39Z by Steven

Historical Reformer – Lemuel Haynes

Nations
2021-12-20

Thaddeus Tague

The First Black Pastor in American History

On April 19th, 1775 – war was coming to Lexington, Massachusetts. The 77 hastily armed colonists arrived first. The sun began to rise, and with it came the sound of a marching war machine. The militaristically-naked colonists gaped at the more than 700 redcoats that faced them, weapons drawn. A sneering British major had approached within shouting distance and yelled, “Throw down your arms! Ye villains, ye rebels.” Within moments, firing started on both sides. Eight colonists lay dead. The British force advanced and set fire to the town. As soon as they advanced beyond the town however, they were met with the veritable thousands of “minutemen” who had assembled nearby. Quickly deployed and burning to protect their freedom, the minutemen overwhelmed the British force. In the days after, thousands more men were recruited in the local region. One of these men was a newly freed slave named Lemuel Haynes. A passionate Christian and Calvanist, Lemuel helped fight and tend to the wounded during the subsequent engagements. Seeing the blood and combat on the following few days – he vowed in his heart that he would fight to extend freedom and liberty to all men and women in the new colonies

Read the entire article here.

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J.P. Morgan’s librarian hid her race. A novel imagines the toll on her.

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-07-17 00:53Z by Steven

J.P. Morgan’s librarian hid her race. A novel imagines the toll on her.

The Christian Science Monitor
2021-06-29

Heller McAlpin, Correspondent


Library of Congress
Belle da Costa Greene, shown in 1929, curated rare books for mogul J.P. Morgan. She was the first director of the Morgan Library.

Some books leave you wondering why the author has chosen to tell this particular story, and why now. This is emphatically not the case with “The Personal Librarian,” a novel about the woman who helped shape the Morgan Library’s spectacular collection of rare books and art more than a century ago. It quickly becomes clear why two popular authors, Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray, have teamed up to tell this important, inspirational story.

Belle da Costa Greene’s success in the almost exclusively male world of art and rare book dealers was an unusual feat for a woman in the early 20th century. But what makes it even more extraordinary – and such rich material for historical fiction – is the secret she harbored throughout her long career: She hailed from a prominent, light-skinned Black family, many of whose members had chosen to pass as white.

“The Personal Librarian” reminds readers that this decision was not made lightly. After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Civil Rights Act in 1883 – a ruling that ushered in Jim Crow segregation and gave white supremacy and racial discrimination legal cover, the ramifications of which are felt to this day – few opportunities were open to anyone classified as nonwhite…

Read the entire book review here.

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The Personal Librarian, A Novel

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-07-17 00:36Z by Steven

The Personal Librarian, A Novel

Berkley (an imprint of Penguin Randomhouse)
2021-06-29
Hardcover ISBN: 9780593101537
Paperback ISBN: 9780593414248
Eboock ISBN: 9780593101551

Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

A remarkable novel about J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, the Black American woman who was forced to hide her true identity and pass as white in order to leave a lasting legacy that enriched our nation, from New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict, and acclaimed author Victoria Christopher Murray.

In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture in New York City society and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps create a world-class collection.

But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white—her complexion is dark because she is African American.

The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go to—for the protection of her family and her legacy—to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives.

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Radio Diaries: Harry Pace And The Rise And Fall Of Black Swan Records

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-07-16 18:20Z by Steven

Radio Diaries: Harry Pace And The Rise And Fall Of Black Swan Records

All Things Considered
National Public Radio
2021-07-01

Nellie Gilles, Managing Producer at Radio Diaries at Radio Diaries

Mycah Hazel, Radio Diaries Fellow


Harry Pace started the first major Black-owned record label in the U.S., but his achievements went mostly unnoticed until recently, when his descendants uncovered his secret history.
Courtesy of Peter Pace

A century ago, around the dawn of the Harlem Renaissance, New York City was brimming with music. Black artists like Eubie Blake, Florence Mills and Fats Waller were performing in dance halls and nightclubs including Edmond’s Cellar and The Lincoln Theatre.

“Every block between 110th Street and 155th Street buzzed with creative energy,” says journalist Paul Slade, author of Black Swan Blues: the hard rise and brutal fall of America’s first black-owned record label.

Despite that energy, when it came to recording and selling music by Black artists, the opportunities were limited. White-owned record labels — Columbia, Victor, Aeolian, Edison, Paramount — recorded few Black artists at the time, and when they did, it was often limited to novelty songs and minstrelsy.

“They were making a fortune off these negative portrayals of Black people,” says Bill Doggett, a specialist in early recorded sound.

Okeh Records was one of the first labels to break the mold. Perry “Mule” Bradford, a Black composer, pushed Okeh to record Mamie Smith and her song “Crazy Blues” in 1920. The record was a hit and entrepreneur Harry Pace took notice…

Read the entire story here.

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Black Swan Blues: The Hard Rise & Brutal Fall of America’s First Black-owned Record Label

Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2021-07-16 14:21Z by Steven

Black Swan Blues: The Hard Rise & Brutal Fall of America’s First Black-owned Record Label

PlanetSlade.com
2021-07-03
190 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1527296978
6 x 0.43 x 9 inches

Paul Slade

Forty years before Motown, there was Black Swan. Created by a young Black songwriter called Harry Pace, this pioneering 1920s blues label gave 14 million African-Americans the chance to hear their own authentic music on disc for the first time. Ethel Waters’ Down Home Blues was the label’s first big hit, its sales fuelled by a ground-breaking US tour which made headlines everywhere it touched down. Soon, the exciting new records Pace produced were pulling in white listeners as well as Black, and providing the essential soundtrack at every chic Hollywood party.

But there was danger too. In the Jim Crow South, Waters and her band were cheered to the echo on stage only to have racist insults spat at them in the street outside. In Georgia, the corpse of a young lynching victim was hurled into the lobby of a theatre Waters was just about to play. Pace had to battle a constant stream of dirty tricks from his white rivals, who were determined to sabotage Black Swan at every turn. This is the story of a truly remarkable record label – and of the even more remarkable man who founded it.

This expanded 2021 edition of the book, published to mark the 100th anniversary of Black Swan’s launch, contains a wealth of new information and many fresh insights into both the label’s own story and Harry Pace’s determination to improve African-Americans’ lives.

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

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs on 2021-07-15 20:26Z 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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‘An American riddle’: the black music trailblazer who died a white man

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-07-15 15:14Z by Steven

‘An American riddle’: the black music trailblazer who died a white man

The Guardian
2021-07-14

Ammar Kalia


Harry Pace, lawyer and cultural entrepreneur, thought by his family to have been Italian. Photograph: Courtesy of Peter Pace

A fascinating new podcast delves into the life of Harry Pace, forgotten founder of the first black-owned major record label in the US – and unlocks a shocking and prescient story about race

There are, according to the academic Emmett Price, “six degrees of Harry Pace”. He is referring to the man born in 1884 who founded America’s first black-owned major record label; desegregated part of Chicago; mentored the founder of Ebony and Jet magazines and spearheaded the career of blues singer Ethel Waters. Pace is a figure who is seemingly everywhere at once, yet his name has been suspiciously absent from the history books.

“This story encapsulates how progress comes about in America – and it is never in a straight line,” says Jad Abumrad. “It is often a cycle – one that contains hope and despair, smashed together.”

Best known for their work on Radiolab and its hit spin-off, Dolly Parton’s America, Abumrad and his co-producer Shima Oliaee are speaking from New York about their latest podcast, The Vanishing of Harry Pace. The six-part series examines the life and legacy of its titular character – the founder of Black Swan records, who had a hand in coining the term “rock ‘n’ roll”. Pace was also a civil rights lawyer, a collaborator of WEB Du Bois, and, you might think, a pioneering black American erased from history because of his race…

Read the entire article here.

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