A family story as complex as American history, tracing to 1820s Berlin Crossroads in Ohio: Michael A. Chaney

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2021-09-19 01:55Z by Steven

A family story as complex as American history, tracing to 1820s Berlin Crossroads in Ohio: Michael A. Chaney

Cleveland.com: Covering Northeast Ohio
2020-07-03

Michael A. Chaney, Professor of English
Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire


Michael A. Chaney, an author and professor of English at Dartmouth, traces some of his roots to a storied African American community in Berlin Crossroads in Ohio’s Appalachia.

HANOVER, New Hampshire — As the celebration of this country’s revolutionary independence looms, I cannot help but reflect on my own ancestry and what it says about place and race, politics and perspective. A mixed-race Ohioan, I was born in Cuyahoga Falls and raised in the Akron/Cleveland area. Like most Ohioans, I am proud of our wooded forests, our first-rate colleges, our winning sports teams. I want to believe that if more people knew about Ohio’s Black and mixed-race histories, we would be cautiously optimistic to note those times when Black lives have mattered in Ohio — in the solemn presence of mourning those times when Black lives should have mattered more.

This won’t be a linear story. As with all history, including complicated family histories, and, particularly, family trees made more complicated by the intersection of different races, it moves from Akron to Germany and back to Ohio, with some side branches that go back 200 years to a once-storied and now largely forgotten African American community in Ohio’s Appalachia

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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”.

Tags: , , , ,

Author Event: Dedria Humphries Barker on AADL.TV

Posted in Biography, History, Live Events, United States, Videos, Women on 2020-08-19 22:34Z by Steven

Author Event: Dedria Humphries Barker on AADL.TV

Ann Arbor District Library
343 South Fifth Avenue
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104
2020-08-20, 00-01:30Z [2020-08-19, 20:00 to 21:30 EDT]

Join Dedria Humphries Barker as she discusses her book, Mother of Orphans: The True and Curious Story of Irish Alice, a Colored Man’s Widow.

Before Her Time: The Heroic Schooling of a Mulatto Girl

White women who for love crossed the 19th century Jim Crow color line for a new life in a Black family were highly unusual and often ostracized. But one such woman was Alice Donlan. Her interracial family braved further complication when her husband died in 1912, and Alice put their three children in an orphanage. Why was the one-hundred year old mystery unraveled by a two decades of research by Alice’s great granddaughter, Dedria Humphries Barker. Mother of Orphans is the resulting family biography. In this presentation, Humphries Barker argues that Alice’s act was heroic and helped propel future generations, including the author, to lives of opportunity.

Richly illustrated with historical and contemporary photographs, Mother of Orphans tells the story of Humphries Barker’s great grandmother, Alice Donlan, an Irish American woman from Indiana, who found love in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the end of the Gilded Age when the Ohio River city was known as the London and Paris of America. It was also the age of Jim Crow and lynching. This family biography explains how navigating interracial family life and different cultural values led to Alice’s unspeakable act. An intricate social history, Mother of Orphans links the stories of four generations of related White and Black women directly affected by Alice’s unspeakable act. And, in the final analysis, the author was amazed at how the social condition of 21st century women remains very similar to the daunting challenges Alice faced, especially when it comes to child care.

Dedria Humphries Barker is a African American woman writer who lives in Lansing, Michigan where she is a working mother of three adult children. Her work has included being a journalist at The Michigan Chronicle, Detroit’s African American newspaper, a staff writer for two Gannett, Co., Inc. daily newspapers, The Commercial News in Danville, Illinois, and The Lansing State Journal in Michigan’s capitol city; an editor at Michigan State University, and a freelance writer whose work on parenting has appeared on Salon.com, Your Teen, and Literary Mama, and in the Redbook and Good Housekeeping magazines, and The Detroit News, among other periodicals. Her work has been published by the historical societies of Ohio and Michigan. She is a former professor of English at Lansing Community College in Michigan.

To watch the event, click here.

Tags: , , , ,

Genealogy & Racial Passing; Author Mary Doria Russell

Posted in Audio, Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-11-12 20:47Z by Steven

Genealogy & Racial Passing; Author Mary Doria Russell

The Sound of Ideas
ideastream
Cleveland, Ohio
2019-11-11

Rachel Rood, Producer


Credit: MeganBrady/shutterstock

Parma native and award winning author, Gail Lukasik discovered in 1995 that her mother had kept a deep family secret from her. Her mother was half-black, but was passing as a white woman, and begged Gail not to reveal her true identity. Lukasik will be speaking about her family’s story, which she turned into a book in 2017, this week in Lakewood, and we’ll discuss the complicated waters of genealogy and race, on The Sound of Ideas. Later, Lyndhurst author, Mary Doria Russell, talks about her new historical novel: The Women of the Copper Country.

Listen to the episode (00:49:56) here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Women in Philosophy: Cramblett, Race, Disability, and Liberatory Politics

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, Social Work, United States on 2019-09-04 02:43Z by Steven

Women in Philosophy: Cramblett, Race, Disability, and Liberatory Politics

Blog of the APA
The American Philosophical Association
2019-08-14

Desiree Valentine, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

In October of 2014, news outlets began reporting on a case of a lesbian couple suing a sperm bank for receiving the wrong donor’s sperm. As the lawsuit Cramblett v. Midwest Sperm Bank alleged, not only did the couple receive the wrong donor’s sperm, but they had specifically chosen a white donor with blonde hair and blue eyes and the sperm they received had been from a black donor. Both women were white. The couple gave birth to a black/mixed-race child in 2012 and claimed that their daughter’s race posed particular challenges for their family, from facing prejudice in their nearly all-white community to difficulties dealing with their daughter’s hair. The couple sued for “wrongful birth” and “breach of warranty,” citing emotional and economic difficulties.

Clearly, there are legal issues at stake—the particular sperm bank was negligent in their handling of the transaction. But the claim of ‘wrongful birth’ brings up myriad sociopolitical and ethical concerns as well. Effectively, the plaintiff was alleging that her daughter’s blackness generated emotional suffering and economic burdens for Cramblett, and moreover, that she should be compensated for ‘damages’.

Unsurprisingly, many commentators reacted with outrage, disbelief, and dismay—outrage that a mother would sue on account of having a non-white, but healthy child, disbelief that this claim could even be legally articulable, and dismay at the fact that one day this child would learn that her mother implicitly claimed that she should have never been born because she was black/mixed race.

While obviously problematic (the case was thrown out by an Illinois Circuit Court Judge in 2015), the fact that this case was legally and thus on some level, socially and culturally intelligible, sets the stage for an array of philosophical interventions. For my purposes here, I’ll focus primarily on the problems and possibilities of various conceptualizations of race and disability that are illuminated by a politically-aware and historically-situated reading of Cramblett

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Investigating Identity

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2019-08-26 00:30Z by Steven

Investigating Identity

City Scene
Columbus, Ohio
2013-04-02

Cindy Gaillard

CSNov2012VisualsRotating.jpg

Exploration of womanhood inspires painter

To this day, a family secret has shaped Jesse Chandler’s work.

Her mother, Carlene Bochino, was African-American, but passed for white. It was the early 1960s and the stakes were high.

The secret was so buried that rumors and whispers swirled around Chandler’s home life, but the truth was never clear.

“She looked like Lena Horne,” says Chandler. “I missed it. I don’t know how I missed it.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

In 1870, Henrietta Wood Sued for Reparations—and Won

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Women on 2019-08-20 13:39Z by Steven

In 1870, Henrietta Wood Sued for Reparations—and Won

Smithsonian Magazine
September 2019

W. Caleb McDaniel, Associate Professor of History
Rice University, Houston, Texas

Verdict slip collage
No image of Henrietta Wood survives today, but her story is recorded in court filings, including the verdict slip above. (Illustration by Cliff Alejandro; Source material: W. Caleb McDaniel; New York Public Library (3))

The $2,500 verdict, the largest ever of its kind, offers evidence of the generational impact such awards can have

On April 17, 1878, twelve white jurors entered a federal courtroom in Cincinnati, Ohio, to deliver the verdict in a now-forgotten lawsuit about American slavery. The plaintiff was Henrietta Wood, described by a reporter at the time as “a spectacled negro woman, apparently sixty years old.” The defendant was Zebulon Ward, a white man who had enslaved Wood 25 years before. She was suing him for $20,000 in reparations.

Two days earlier, the jury had watched as Wood took the stand; her son, Arthur, who lived in Chicago, was in the courtroom. Born into bondage in Kentucky, Wood testified, she had been granted her freedom in Cincinnati in 1848, but five years later she was kidnapped by Ward, who sold her, and she ended up enslaved on a Texas plantation until after the Civil War. She finally returned to Cincinnati in 1869, a free woman. She had not forgotten Ward and sued him the following year.

The trial began only after eight years of litigation, leaving Wood to wonder if she would ever get justice. Now, she watched nervously as the 12 jurors returned to their seats. Finally, they announced a verdict that few expected: “We, the Jury in the above entitled cause, do find for the plaintiff and assess her damages in the premises at Two thousand five hundred dollars.”

Though a fraction of what Wood had asked for, the amount would be worth nearly $65,000 today. It remains the largest known sum ever granted by a U.S. court in restitution for slavery…

But Wood’s name never made it into the history books. When she died in 1912, her suit was already forgotten by all except her son. Today, it remains virtually unknown, even as reparations for slavery are once again in the headlines.

I first learned of Wood from two interviews she gave to reporters in the 1870s. They led me to archives in nine states in search of her story, which I tell in full for the first time in my new book, Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Women on 2019-08-06 20:51Z by Steven

Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America

Oxford University Press
2019-08-05
288 Pages
28 b/w images, 2 maps
6-1/8 x 9¼ inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780190846992

W. Caleb McDaniel, Associate Professor of History
Rice University, Houston, Texas

  • The epic, unique, and haunting story an enslaved woman and her quest for justice
  • Incorporates recent scholarship on slavery, reparations, and the ongoing connection between slavery and incarceration of black Americans
  • McDaniel received a Public Scholar fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities that enabled him to write this book

Born into slavery, Henrietta Wood was taken to Cincinnati and legally freed in 1848. In 1853, a Kentucky deputy sheriff named Zebulon Ward colluded with Wood’s employer, abducted her, and sold her back into bondage. She remained enslaved throughout the Civil War, giving birth to a son in Mississippi and never forgetting who had put her in this position.

By 1869, Wood had obtained her freedom for a second time and returned to Cincinnati, where she sued Ward for damages in 1870. Astonishingly, after eight years of litigation, Wood won her case: in 1878, a Federal jury awarded her $2,500. The decision stuck on appeal. More important than the amount, though the largest ever awarded by an American court in restitution for slavery, was the fact that any money was awarded at all. By the time the case was decided, Ward had become a wealthy businessman and a pioneer of convict leasing in the South. Wood’s son later became a prominent Chicago lawyer, and she went on to live until 1912.

McDaniel’s book is an epic tale of a black woman who survived slavery twice and who achieved more than merely a moral victory over one of her oppressors. Above all, A Sweet Taste of Liberty is a portrait of an extraordinary individual as well as a searing reminder of the lessons of her story, which establish beyond question the connections between slavery and the prison system that rose in its place.

Tags: , , , , , ,

BOOK REVIEW: “White Like Her” by Gail Lukasik, Reviewed By C. Ellen Connally

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-08-03 02:22Z by Steven

BOOK REVIEW: “White Like Her” by Gail Lukasik, Reviewed By C. Ellen Connally

Cool Cleveland
2019-07-16

Former Clevelander and author Gail Lukasik named her recently published memoir White Like Her. Subtitled My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing, Lukasik tells the story of her mother, Alvera Frederic Kalina, who changed her racial identity from black to white when she married in 1944 and moved to Cleveland. With that move, she abandoned her black family and racial heritage and in her mind, became white like the man she married.

Alvera hid her secret from the world until her daughter made the discovery when she was tracing her family tree. Her mother’s birth certificate and that of her grandfather and other relatives ,along with census records, showed that her mother and other relatives were black. When confronted with such concrete evidence, Alvera refused to admit her mixed-race heritage. In her mind, her life as a black person was over when she married and left New Orleans, the city of her birth. She begged her daughter not to reveal her secret. For 17 years, until her mother’s death, Lukasik continued her research but did not reveal her findings outside her immediate family.

Stories of passing — a term used to define the process of abandoning one’s cultural identity and adopting another — are traditionally associated with a light-skinned black person who assumes a white identity. People of color living as white have been the theme for many literary works in the late 19th and 20th century. Clevelander Charles W. Chesnutt, a black man who could have easily passed for white, wrote a significant number of stories about black people passing for white around the turn of the 20th century. Many of the stories take place in Cleveland which he fictionalized to be Groveland, Ohio…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mother of Orphans: The True and Curious Story of Irish Alice, A Colored Man’s Widow

Posted in Biography, Books, Family/Parenting, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2019-07-30 16:57Z by Steven

Mother of Orphans: The True and Curious Story of Irish Alice, A Colored Man’s Widow

2Leaf Press
July 2019
250 pages
6 x 9
Print ISBN: 978-1-940939-78-0
eBook ISBN: 978-1-940939-87-2

Dedria Humphries Barker

Introduction by:

Cathy J. Schlund-Vials, Professor of English; Professor of Asian/Asian American Studies
University of Connecticut

Mother of Orphans is the compelling true story of Alice, an Irish-American woman who defied rigid social structures to form a family with a black man in Ohio in 1899. Alice and her husband had three children together, but after his death in 1912, Alice mysteriously surrendered her children to an orphanage. One hundred years later, her great-grand daughter, Dedria Humphries Barker, went in search of the reasons behind this mysterious abandonment, hoping in the process to resolve aspects of her own conflicts with American racial segregation and conflict.

This book is the fruit of Barker’s quest. In it, she turns to memoir, biography, historical research, and photographs to unearth the fascinating history of a multiracial community in the Ohio River Valley during the early twentieth century. Barker tells this story from multiple vantage points, frequently switching among points of view to construct a fragmented and comprehensive perspective of the past intercut with glimpses of the present. The result is a haunting, introspective meditation on race and family ties. Part personal journey, part cultural biography, Mother of Orphans examines a little-known piece of this country’s past: interracial families that survived and prevailed despite Jim Crow laws, including those prohibiting mixed-race marriage. In lyrical, evocative prose, this extraordinary book ultimately leaves us hopeful about the world as our children might see it.

Tags: , , , ,