Rediscovered Ancestry: a Family Learns the Story of Their Remarkable Ancestor, Senator Lawrence Cain

Posted in Audio, Biography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2021-06-22 21:21Z by Steven

Rediscovered Ancestry: a Family Learns the Story of Their Remarkable Ancestor, Senator Lawrence Cain

Walter Edgar’s Journal
South Carolina Public Radio
2021-04-12

Walter Edgar, Host


“Radical members of the first legislature after the war, South Carolina” – Photomontage of members of the first South Carolina legislature following the Civil War, mounted on card with each member identified. (Lawrence Cain, center, third from left)

In his book, The Virtue of Cain: From Slave to Senator (2021, Rocky Pond Press), Kevin Cherry focuses on the short but extraordinary life of Reconstruction era Senator Lawrence Cain of Edgefield, South Carolina. Cherry, Cain’s great great-grandson, also tells the contemporaty story of a family with Southern roots, long identified as having some American indian ancestry, re-discovering their true heritage.

Kevin Cherry’s book, The Virtue of Cain: From Slave to Senator (2021, Rocky Pond Press) focuses on the short but extraordinary life of Reconstruction era Senator Lawrence Cain of Edgefield, South Carolina. He was considered an honorable and virtuous man and helped shape South Carolina politics between 1865 and 1877 as one of the leaders of the Radical Republican movement. He rose above numerous obstacles to go from slave to state senator

The facts of his life had been forgotten by his descendants, like much of African American history during Reconstruction. But they were re-discovered Lawrence Cain’s great great-grandson, Kevin M. Cherry, with the help of family, genealogy research, archived papers and genetic DNA results. Cherry is joined in conversation with Walter Edgar and Dr. Vernon Burton, professor emeritus of history at Clemson University, recounting Lawrence Cain’s remarkable life and the social and political upheaval of Reconstruction in South Carolina.

Listen to the story (00:51:59) here.

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Why This Mexican Village Celebrates Juneteenth

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, Slavery, Texas, United States on 2021-06-20 18:52Z by Steven

Why This Mexican Village Celebrates Juneteenth

Texas Monthly
2019-06-19

Wes Ferguson


Descendants of the Negro Mascogo people of northern Mexico gather to celebrate Juneteenth in the village of Nacimiento de los Negros. Photograph by Wes Ferguson

Descendants of slaves who escaped across the southern border observe Texas’s emancipation holiday with their own unique traditions.

The morning before Juneteenth, Corina Harrington and her sister Miriam Torralba left San Antonio shortly after sunrise and headed south to Mexico, retracing a portion of the same route their African American ancestors followed in 1850 when they escaped slavery in the United States and fled to freedom south of the border.

The sisters arrived around midday at their father’s house in the ranching village of Nacimiento de los Negros in Coahuila, about three hours south of Eagle Pass. As afternoon drifted toward evening, the blue silhouettes of the Sierra Madres were all but obscured by clouds, as siblings, cousins, extended family members, and childhood friends kept arriving in twos, threes, or fours. They strolled over to the cool and swift Río Sabinas to swim in water as clear as any Hill Country stream. They politely tasted the dried and shredded meat of a mountain lion that one of their cousins shot on their dad’s nearby goat ranch, and they laughed and reminisced and readied for one of the most important days of the year in a village whose name literally means “Birth of the Blacks.”…

Read the entire article here.

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NAACP to Tampa: For Juneteenth, find Robert Meacham, a slave who became senator

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2021-06-14 02:32Z by Steven

NAACP to Tampa: For Juneteenth, find Robert Meacham, a slave who became senator

Tampa Bay Times
2021-06-12

Paul Guzzo, Tampa Bay LIfe Reporter


This portrait of Robert Meacham was taken around 1870. Meacham was an enslaved man who was later elected Florida senator. [Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory]

He was buried in the erased College Hill Cemetery believed to be located in what is now the Italian Club Cemetery’s parking lot.

TAMPARobert Meacham was an enslaved man who became a Florida state senator pushing for educational opportunities for Black children.

“Robert Meacham is the type of man who deserves a street named for him,” said Fred Hearns, the curator of Black history at the Tampa Bay History Center. “Maybe even a statue.”

But he doesn’t even have a marked grave.

Meacham is among the more than 1,200 buried in Tampa’s erased College Hill Cemetery for Blacks and Cubans, believed to be located in what is now the Italian Club Cemetery’s parking lot.

June 19 is Juneteenth, the day commemorating the anniversary of when in 1865 the enslaved in Texas were freed. It serves as the day to celebrate the end of slavery in the United States

…Meacham was born in Gadsden County in 1835. His mother was an enslaved woman. His father was her white owner.

As a child, Meacham rode alongside his father in the family buggy and was educated. But, when he turned 18, Meacham was taken to Tallahassee to “fulfill the role of a house-servant for an affluent Leon County family.” When his father died, Meacham became that family’s “property.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Recovered Life of Isaac Anderson

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2021-06-10 02:23Z by Steven

The Recovered Life of Isaac Anderson

University Press of Mississippi
2021-12-15
256 pages
16 b&w illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496835147
Paperback ISBN: 9781496835130

Alicia K. Jackson, Associate Professor of History
Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Georgia

The story of an enslaved man who became a Georgia state senator, helped found a church, and led his people to promise and hope

Owned by his father, Isaac Harold Anderson (1835–1906) was born a slave but went on to become a wealthy businessman, grocer, politician, publisher, and religious leader in the African American community in the state of Georgia. Elected to the state senate, Anderson replaced his white father there, and later shepherded his people as a founding member and leader of the Colored Methodist Episcopal church. He helped support the establishment of Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, where he subsequently served as vice president.

Anderson was instrumental in helping freed people leave Georgia for the security of progressive safe havens with significantly large Black communities in northern Mississippi and Arkansas. Eventually under threat to his life, Anderson made his own exodus to Arkansas, and then later still, to Holly Springs, Mississippi, where a vibrant Black community thrived.

Much of Anderson’s unique story has been lost to history—until now. In The Recovered Life of Isaac Anderson, author Alicia K. Jackson presents a biography of Anderson and in it a microhistory of Black religious life and politics after emancipation. A work of recovery, the volume captures the life of a shepherd to his journeying people, and of a college pioneer, a CME minister, a politician, and a former slave. Gathering together threads from salvaged details of his life, Jackson sheds light on the varied perspectives and strategies adopted by Black leaders dealing with a society that was antithetical to them and to their success.

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Permanent marker: Augusta plaque honors 19th century Black female millionaire

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Women on 2021-05-27 15:00Z by Steven

Permanent marker: Augusta plaque honors 19th century Black female millionaire

The Augusta Chronicle
Augusta, Georgia
2021-05-21

Joe Hotchkiss


Corey Rogers (center), historian at the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, and Elyse Butler (second from left), marker manager for the Georgia Historical Society, unveil the marker at 448 Telfair St. in Augusta commemorating the former home of Black millionaire Amanda America Dickson Toomer. At far left is building owner John Hock, who funded and supervised the home’s exterior renovations. Rogers (center), historian at the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, and Elyse Butler (second from left), marker manager for the Georgia Historical Society, unveil the marker at 448 Telfair St. in Augusta commemorating the former home of Black millionaire Amanda America Dickson Toomer. At far left is building owner John Hock, who funded and supervised the home’s exterior renovations. JOE HOTCHKISS/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE

Harrell Lawson grew up in Hancock County in the 1960s, listening to tales about the old plantation across the road.

“I used to hear stories about how a Black woman used to own it, but I didn’t know my relation to her at the time,” he said.

More people know now. On Friday, a Georgia historical marker was unveiled in downtown Augusta to mark the home at 448 Telfair St. where Amanda America Dickson Toomer – perhaps the richest Black woman of the 19th century – spent the last seven years of her life.

Lawson, who maintains homes in Stone Mountain and Sparta, joined about a dozen other Toomer descendants at the marker ceremony in front of a renovated exterior that took months for John Hock, the house’s owner, to complete with a team of subcontractors.

While the outside has been repainted, refitted and repaired to match its original appearance, the inside has more modern features and will continue to be used as an attorney’s office.

“This whole project was to commemorate the life of Amanda, and I think we did it,” Hock said…

Who was Amanda America Dickson Toomer?

Dickson was born in 1849 to prominent Hancock County plantation owner David Dickson and a 12-year-old slave. Legally a slave owned by her white grandmother, the biracial child was reared in her father’s household. She learned to read and write, and assumed the social graces of white Southern affluence.

When David Dickson died in 1885, he willed to Amanda 15,000 acres of land and about $500,000, which Amanda’s biographer Dr. Kent Anderson Leslie said equals more than $3 million today. Other modern estimates place the amount even higher.

Scores of Dickson’s white relatives emerged to contest the will, outraged at the prospect of a biracial, legally illegitimate woman inheriting such immense wealth in the post-Civil War South. But Leslie said at the ceremony Friday that the young heiress had a plan…

Read the entire article here.

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An Upstream Battle: John Parker’s Personal War on Slavery

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2021-05-05 21:30Z by Steven

An Upstream Battle: John Parker’s Personal War on Slavery

Anne Stanton Publications
2019-02-12
136 pages
ISBN-13 : 978-1796696295
5.5 x 0.34 x 8.5 inches

Anne Stanton

*** Free download available from 2021-05-05 through 2021-05-09 here! ***

John Parker wasn’t interested in helping anyone run away. He had worked too hard getting himself free to want to risk losing it for someone he didn’t know. But Sam didn’t give up, and soon John was enlisted to help two young women cross the Ohio River to freedom. What neither man knew at the time was that this marked the beginning of a personal war on slavery for John Parker, one in which he would help hundreds of runaways escape. An Upstream Battle is comprised of four stories from the life of John Parker, an African American businessman and inventor. Based on events portrayed in Parker’s autobiography, An Upstream Battle illustrates the real danger that Parker and other members of the Underground Railroad were exposed to, and their commitment to helping runaway slaves, despite that danger. This book makes a great gift for YA readers who couldn’t put down “Bud, not Buddy”.

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Would the Rev. Patrick Healy, Who Passed for White, Want to Be Celebrated as a Black Hero?

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2021-04-18 23:14Z by Steven

Would the Rev. Patrick Healy, Who Passed for White, Want to Be Celebrated as a Black Hero?

Faithfully Magazine
2020-10-13

Alexandria Griffin, Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion
New College of Florida, Sarasota, Florida


Father Patrick Francis Healy, S.J., was the first African American to receive a doctorate degree and the first to be president of a predominantly White university when he became president of Georgetown University in 1872. (Photo: Blake Photography/Public domain)

Patrick Healy never directly addressed questions of what his racial identity might have been in the written record he left behind. However, he wrote on a few occasions about “blacks” or “negroes” in a tone that seems to indicate that he saw them as a group he did not belong to.

In 2015 and 2016, Georgetown University became enmeshed in conversations about race taking place at college campuses across the United States. At Georgetown, conversation centered on the institution’s history with slavery, which had been an integral part of its early years, with much of the labor on campus falling to enslaved people.

The focus was the sale of 272 enslaved African Americans in 1838, a sale undertaken by Jesuits Thomas F. Mulledy and William McSherry with the intent to accrue enough money to pay off some of the school’s debts and keep it open. This sale resulted in the breakup of numerous families, and the majority were sold into the Deep South, where they were subjected to harsher conditions of forced agricultural labor. The sale was controversial at the time but eventually largely faded from the memory of White Catholics. (As Shannen Dee Williams, historian at Villanova University and originator of the Twitter hashtag #BlackHistoryIsCatholicHistory, has pointed out, what many people now think of as new information about religious orders owning enslaved people never faded from the memories of Black Catholics.)

Moreover, discussion also included broader issues around Georgetown’s relationship to slavery, including buildings named after slaveholding faculty, and on what actions might be taken to acknowledge and make amends for this history. A number of initiatives grew out of this; a working group made archival resources on slavery at Georgetown available online and researched the fates of those sold in 1838, the school held an apology ceremony attended by community members and descendants of those sold, and buildings named after Mulledy and McSherry were renamed. Additionally, the school opted to grant descendants of those sold in 1838 preferential admission. More recently, students voted to add a student fee to go toward reparations for descendants of those enslaved at Georgetown. The future of the fee and how or whether it will be implemented remains uncertain. The university has recently committed to raising $400,000 annually toward reparations, which some students feel is too little.

Patrick Francis Healy: Legally Enslaved, Passing for White

One figure has been strangely absent from this conversation: Patrick Francis Healy, the university’s 29th president. In November of 1853, Healy, then a young Jesuit in training, sent a letter to an older Jesuit and mentor, George Fenwick. He wrote from his teaching post at College of the Holy Cross: “Father, I will be candid with you. Placed in a college as I am, are boys who were well acquainted with by sight or hearsay, with me + my brothers, remarks are sometimes made (then if not in my hearing) which wound my very heart. You know to what I refer. The anxiety of mind caused by these is very intense.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Cherokee Nation Strikes Down Language That Limits Citizenship Rights ‘By Blood’

Posted in Articles, Audio, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2021-02-27 03:58Z by Steven

Cherokee Nation Strikes Down Language That Limits Citizenship Rights ‘By Blood’

National Public Radio
2021-02-25

Mary Louise Kelly, Host
All Things Considered


Rena Logan, a member of a Cherokee Freedmen family, shows her identification card as a member of the Cherokee tribe at her home in Muskogee, Okla., in this photo from October 2011. She is among the some 8,500 people whose ancestors were enslaved by the Cherokee Nation in the 1800s.David Crenshaw/Associated Press

The Cherokee Nation’s Supreme Court ruled this week to remove the words “by blood” from its constitution and other legal doctrines.

The words, added to the constitution in 2007, have been used to exclude Black people whose ancestors were enslaved by the tribe from obtaining full Cherokee Nation citizenship rights.

There are currently some 8,500 enrolled Cherokee Nation members descended from these Freedmen, thousands of whom were removed on the Trail of Tears along with tribal citizens.

“The Freedmen, until this Cherokee Nation Supreme Court ruling, they couldn’t hold office, they couldn’t run for tribal council and they couldn’t run for chief,” says Graham Lee Brewer, an editor for Indigenous affairs at High Country News and KOSU in Oklahoma. “And I would argue that that made them second-class citizens.”…

Read the entire story here. Download the story (00:04:10) here.

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He became the nation’s ninth vice president. She was his enslaved wife.

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, United States on 2021-02-09 18:19Z by Steven

He became the nation’s ninth vice president. She was his enslaved wife.

The Washington Post
2021-02-07

Ronald G. Shafer


Richard Mentor Johnson became vice president in 1837. (Library of Congress)

Her name was Julia Chinn

She was born enslaved and remained that way her entire life, even after she became Richard Mentor Johnson’s “bride.”

Johnson, a Kentucky congressman who eventually became the nation’s ninth vice president in 1837, couldn’t legally marry Julia Chinn. Instead the couple exchanged vows at a local church with a wedding celebration organized by the enslaved people at his family’s plantation in Great Crossing, according to Miriam Biskin, who wrote about Chinn decades ago.

Chinn died nearly four years before Johnson took office. But because of controversy over her, Johnson is the only vice president in American history who failed to receive enough electoral votes to be elected. The Senate voted him into office.

The couple’s story is complicated and fraught, historians say. As an enslaved woman, Chinn could not consent to a relationship, and there’s no record of how she regarded him. Though she wrote to Johnson during his lengthy absences from Kentucky, the letters didn’t survive.

Read the entire article here.

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America’s first vampire was Black and revolutionary – it’s time to remember him

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2020-11-01 03:18Z by Steven

America’s first vampire was Black and revolutionary – it’s time to remember him

The Conversation
2020-10-30

Sam George, Associate Professor of Research
University of Hertfordshire


The Black Vampyre is an early literary example of an argument for emancipation of slaves. Thomas Nast/Harper’s Weekly/The Met

In April of 1819, a London periodical, the New Monthly Magazine, published The Vampyre: A Tale by Lord Byron. Notice of its publication quickly appeared in papers in the United States.

Byron was at the time enjoying remarkable popularity and this new tale, supposedly by the famous poet, caused a sensation as did its reprintings in Boston’s Atheneum (15 June) and Baltimore’s Robinson’s Magazine (26 June).

The Vampyre did away with the East European peasant vampire of old. It took this monster out of the forests, gave him an aristocratic lineage and placed him into the drawing rooms of Romantic-era England. It was the first sustained fictional treatment of the vampire and completely recast the folklore and mythology on which it drew.

By July, Byron’s denial of authorship was being reported and by August the true author was discovered, John Polidori.

In the meantime, an American response, The Black Vampyre: A Legend of St. Domingo, by one Uriah Derick D’Arcy, appeared. D’Arcy explicitly parodies The Vampyre and even suggests that Lord Ruthven, Polidori’s British vampire aristocrat, had his origins in the Carribean. A later reprinting in 1845 attributed The Black Vampyre to a Robert C Sands; however, many believe the author was more likely a Richard Varick Dey (1801–1837), a near anagram of the named author…

Read the entire article here.

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