Author Topic: The 1619 Project  (Read 21053 times)

Offline Battle

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The 1619 Project
« on: August 20, 2019, 05:03:17 am »

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2019, 09:26:39 am »
The 1619 Project

Four hundred years after enslaved Africans were first brought to Virginia, many Americans still don’t know the full story of slavery, or understand the many ways its legacy continues to shape society in the United States.

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times to correct the record, reframing the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the national narrative.

Here's the hard copy on sale: $6.00 usd

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2019, 02:08:06 pm »
sounds great.  I have to get a copy.
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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2019, 04:06:34 pm »
Tuesday, 20th August 2019

The first captured African slaves in North America arrived in Virginia in 1619.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2019, 10:14:06 am »
Wednesday, 21st August 2019

The 1619 Project

On this day in 1619, 20 Africans were forcibly brought to Jamestown, Virginia - marking the beginning of two and a half centuries of slavery in North America.

Today, we bear witness to the legacy through mass incarceration, white supremacy and racial violence.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2019, 07:33:46 am »
The 1619 Project

My dad always flew an American flag in our front yard.

The blue paint on our two- story house was perennially chipping; the fence, or the rail by the stairs, or the front door, existed in a perpetual state of disrepair, but that flag always flew pristine.

Our corner lot, which had been redlined by the federal government, was along the river that divided the black side from the white side of our Iowa town.

At the edge of our lawn, high on an aluminum pole, soared the flag, which my dad would replace as soon as it showed the slightest tatter.

My dad was born into a family of sharecroppers on a white plantation in Greenwood, Mississippi, where black people bent over cotton from can’t-see-in-the-morning to can’t-see-at-night, just as their enslaved ancestors had done not long before.

The Mississippi of my dad’s youth was an apartheid state that subjugated its near-majority black population through breathtaking acts of violence.

White residents in Mississippi lynched more black people than those in any other state in the country, and the white people in my dad’s home county lynched more black residents than those in any other county in Mississippi, often for such ‘‘crimes’’ as entering a room occupied by white women, bumping into a white girl or trying to start a sharecroppers union.

My dad’s mother, like all the black people in Greenwood, could not vote, use the public library or find work other than toiling in the cotton fields or toiling in white people’s houses.

So in the 1940s, she packed up her few belongings and her three small children and joined the flood of black Southerners fleeing North.

She got off  the Illinois Central Railroad in Waterloo, Iowa, only to have her hopes of the mythical Promised Land shattered when she learned that Jim Crow did not end at the Mason- Dixon line. 

Grandmama, as we called her, found a house in a segregated black neighborhood on the city’s east side and then found the work that was considered black women’s work no matter where black women lived — cleaning white people’s houses.

Dad, too, struggled to find promise in this land.

In 1962, at age 17, he signed up for the Army.

Like many young men, he joined in hopes of escaping poverty.

But he went into the military for another reason as well, a reason common to black men:

Dad hoped that if he served his country, his country might finally treat him as an American.

The Army did not end up being his way out.

He was passed over for opportunities, his ambition stunted.

He would be discharged under murky circumstances and then labor in a series of service jobs for the rest of his life.

Like all the black men and women in my family, he believed in hard work, but like all the black men and women in my family, no matter how hard he worked, he never got ahead.

So when I was young, that flag outside our home never made sense to me.

How could this black man, having seen firsthand the way his country abused black Americans, how it refused to treat us as full citizens, proudly fly its banner?

I didn’t understand his patriotism.

It deeply embarrassed me. 

I had been taught, in school, through cultural osmosis, that the fl ag wasn’t really ours, that our history as a people began with enslavement and that we had contributed little to this great nation.

It seemed that the closest thing black Americans could have to cultural pride was to be found in our vague connection to Africa, a place we had never been.

That my dad felt so much honor in being an American felt like a marker of his degradation, his acceptance of our subordination.

Like most young people, I thought I understood so much, when in fact I understood so little.

My father knew exactly what he was doing when he raised that flag.

He knew that our people’s contributions to building the richest and most powerful nation in the world were indelible, that the United States simply would not exist without us.

In August 1619, just 12 years after the English settled Jamestown, Va., one year before the Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock and some 157 years before the English colonists even decided they wanted to form their own country, the Jamestown colonists bought 20 to 30 enslaved Africans from English pirates.

The pirates had stolen them from a Portuguese slave ship that had forcibly taken them from what is now the country of Angola.

Those men and women who came ashore on that August day were the beginning of American slavery.

They were among the 12.5 million Africans who would be kidnapped from their homes and brought in chains across the Atlantic Ocean in the largest forced migration in human history until the Second World War.

Almost two million did not survive the grueling journey, known as the Middle Passage.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2019, 08:35:54 am »
Thursday, 22nd August 2019
Virginia marks pivotal moment when African slaves arrived
by Ben Finley

(NORFOLK, Va.)Four hundred years after American slavery and democratic self-rule were born almost simultaneously in what became the state of Virginia, ceremonies will mark the arrival of enslaved Africans in the mid-Atlantic colony and seek healing from the legacy of bondage that still haunts the nation.

Yet the weekend ceremonies in Tidewater Virginia will unfold against the backdrop of rising white nationalism across the country, racist tweets by the acting-president, and a lingering scandal surrounding the state's governor and a blackface photo.

The commemoration will include Sunday's "Healing Day" on the Chesapeake Bay where two ships traded men and women from what's now Angola for food and supplies from English colonists in August 1619.

A bell will ring for four minutes, while churches across the country are expected to join in.

Virginia's two U.S. senators and its governor will make remarks at a Saturday ceremony.

And a family that traces its bloodline to those first Africans will hold a reflection at its cemetery on Friday.

"This moment means everything to folks like myself who are African American and to the folks on the continent of Africa as well," said Mary Elliott, curator of American slavery at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

"But it should mean something to everybody, regardless of race," she added,

"because it is a moment that defined the nation — what became the nation."

Though little noted at the time, the arrival of the enslaved Africans in England's first successful colony is now considered a pivotal moment in American history.

Englishman John Rolfe documented the landing of the first ship, the White Lion, at what was then called Point Comfort.

He wrote that leaders of the colony traded provisions to buy the slaves.

From the White Lion and a second ship, English colonists took more than 30 Africans to properties along the James River, including Jamestown.

By that time, more than 500,000 enslaved Africans had already crossed the Atlantic to European colonies, but the Africans in Virginia are widely considered the first in English-controlled North America.

They came 12 years after the founding of Jamestown, England's first permanent colony, and weeks after the first English-style legislature was convened there.

Quentin Kidd, a political science professor at Christopher Newport University, said the commemoration's timing "speaks to the very contradictions on race that have been part of this nation from its founding."

"We want to recognize this historic event," Kidd said.

"And at the same time, we have an acting-president who spouts off racist things. And we have a governor who still has not satisfied everybody when it comes to the blackface scandal."

In February, a picture surfaced from Governor Ralph Northam's medical school yearbook page showing a man in blackface next to someone in Ku Klux Klan clothing.

Northam denies being in the photo.

An investigation failed to determine whether he was or not.

The Democrat will speak Saturday about "the atrocity of slavery" and "the racial inequities that continue to persist," his press secretary, Alena Yarmosky, wrote in an email.

The 1619 commemoration comes at a time of growing debate over American identity and mounting racial tension, from Washington to the site of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.

It also follows recent racist tweets from the acting-president.

One called on four Democratic congresswomen to "go back" to their home countries, even though three were born in the U.S.

Another tweet attacked Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, calling his majority-black Baltimore district a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess" where "no human being would want to live."

Yet the acting-president also signed into law the "400 Years of African-American History Commission Act," requiring a panel to develop programs that acknowledge the Africans' arrival and slavery's impact.

Among the commission's members is Terry E. Brown, the first black superintendent of the Fort Monroe National Monument, a former U.S. military base in Hampton that is on the site of the Africans' 1619 arrival.

"For me, a great nation pays attention and remembers its history no matter how complex it is," said Brown, who will launch the countdown for the bell ringing on Healing Day.

Brown said the idea of Healing Day is for people from all walks of life "to talk, to laugh, to cry and in some small way to break the insidiousness of racism."

"I want the nation to walk away knowing that the contributions of Africans and African Americans in this country are so significant that they warrant an anniversary like this," he said.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2019, 07:16:39 am »
The 1619 Project

Slavery's explosive growth, in charts: How '20 and odd' became millions

See how slavery grew in the U.S. over two centuries

Just over a decade after the Virginia Colony was settled, a ship — the San Juan Bautista — set sail from Angola with an estimated 350 kidnapped Africans aboard.

It was bound for Mexico as part of the burgeoning Atlantic slave trade.

A twist of fate ended this torturous journey on the colony’s shores for more than 20 of the Bautista’s enslaved Angolans.

Their landing would presage a trade and industry built on African labor that would reach a staggering scale in the United States over 200 years:

April-May 1619
The San Juan Bautista, a Spanish slave ship, leaves Luanda, Angola, with about 350 kidnapped Africans.

It’s bound for Veracruz, Mexico.

June 1619
An estimated 143 Africans die of disease during the ocean crossing.

July 1619
In Jamaica, the ship trades 24 African boys for supplies.

July 1619
Two English privateers – essentially licensed pirates sailing under foreign flags of convenience – attack the San Juan Bautista in the Bay of Campeche.

The privateers take 60 Africans.

The remaining 123 Africans are taken to Veracruz by another ship, which claims 147 Africans as its cargo.

This is believed to include the 24 boys sold in Jamaica.

August 1619
The White Lion arrives at Point Comfort (now Hampton, Virginia) carrying between 20 and 30 Africans.

They are the first recorded Africans in the English colonies.

The Treasurer arrives at Point Comfort a few days later and leaves two or three Africans.

The last 27-28 Africans are taken to Bermuda.

For every 1,000 Africans kidnapped in the slave trade,

640 survived the forced march from the African interior,

570 survived to board the waiting slave ship,

and many died of disease on the ship.

In the end, only 480 lived to see the Americas.

After the 32 Africans landed in Virginia,

few Africans were taken to the colonies in next decades.

The growth of the slave trade was explosive over the next 150 years.

Hundreds, then thousands were captured and brought mostly to Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina.

As Congress prepared to outlaw the slave trade in 1807, more than 24,000 Africans were brought to the U.S. — the largest influx in its history.

After two centuries, more than 360,000 Africans had survived the harrowing trip across the Atlantic.

But they were just a fraction of the people who were born into slavery for generation after generation.

We'll try to put the growth in perspective:

Census data shows an escalating slave population by state.

By 1800, the total number of enslaved people had grown to 800,000.

That number grew fivefold to 4 million people as the Civil War started just 60 years later.

Accounting for the millions of slaves

Just how many people were enslaved since those 32 Africans were taken ashore at Point Comfort in August 1619?

It’s doubtful that question will ever be definitively answered.

Population estimates before 1790 don’t specify whether a black person was enslaved or free.

We’ll use this group of 200 Africans to show you what we do know.

First, we know Virginia was the center of colonial slavery with a surging tobacco industry and its thirst for labor.

By 1700, the black population grew to 16,390 — the largest in the colonies.

In the first hundred years of slavery, more than 36,000 (36,646) Africans were brought to the colonies.

We also know the trans-Atlantic slave trade brought 365,000 (365,603) Africans to our shores in its two centuries.

At least that many of their countrymen died before arriving in the colonies.

By 1810, more than 1 million people were enslaved in the U.S., and cotton was about to take over the economy.

Even though the grueling work cut short many lives, the enslaved population more than tripled as cotton fed the U.S. economy in the 1800s, and the country veered toward war.

Just how many Africans were enslaved?

Two historians estimated for USA TODAY that as many as 6 million people lived and died in the American slave industry before 4 million people were declared free by 1865 – the end of the Civil War.

250 years, 10 million enslaved.


J David Hacker, University of Minnesota; Adam Rothman, Georgetown University, Hampton History Museum;;; William and Mary Quarterly; National Park Service;;; Library of Congress;;; Gilder Lehrman Institute;; American Geographical Society; Sam Houston State University


The Twenty & Odd, Documenting the First Africans in England’s America, 1619-1625 and Beyond, K.I. Knight, First Freedom Publishing, 2019


George Petras, Ramon Padilla, Shuai Hao, Sheldon Sneed, Jim Sergent, Shawn Sullivan, Mitchell Thorson, Javier Zarracina and Mark Nichols, USA TODAY

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2019, 06:10:19 am »
The 1619 Project

Before the abolishment of the international slave trade, 400,000 enslaved Africans would be sold into America.

Those individuals and their descendants transformed the lands to which they’d been brought into some of the most successful colonies in the British Empire.

Through backbreaking labor, they cleared the land across the Southeast.

They taught the colonists to grow rice.

They grew and picked the cotton that at the height of slavery was the nation’s most valuable commodity, accounting for half of all American exports and 66 percent of the world’s supply.

They built the plantations of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, sprawling properties that today attract thousands of visitors from across the globe captivated by the history of the world’s greatest democracy.

They laid the foundations of the White House and the Capitol, even placing with their unfree hands the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol dome.

They lugged the heavy wooden tracks of the railroads that crisscrossed the South and that helped take the cotton they picked to the Northern textile mills, fueling the Industrial Revolution.

They built vast fortunes for white people North and South - - -  at one time, the second- richest man in the nation was a Rhode Island ‘‘slave trader.’’

Profits from black people’s stolen labor helped the young nation pay off  its war debts and financed some of our most prestigious universities.

It was the relentless buying, selling, insuring and financing of their bodies and the products of their labor that made Wall Street a thriving banking, insurance and trading sector and New York City the financial capital of the world.

But it would be historically inaccurate to reduce the contributions of black people to the vast material wealth created by our bondage.

Black Americans have also been, and continue to be, foundational to the idea of American freedom.

More than any other group in this country’s history, we have served, generation after generation, in an overlooked but vital role:

It is we who have been the perfecters of this democracy.

The United States is a nation founded on both an ideal and a lie.

Our Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776, proclaims that ‘‘all men are created equal’’ and ‘‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.’

But the white men who drafted those words did not believe them to be true for the hundreds of thousands of black people in their midst.

‘‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’’ did not apply to fully one-fifth of the country. Yet despite being violently denied the freedom and justice promised to all, black Americans believed fervently in the American creed.

Through centuries of black resistance and protest, we have helped the country live up to its founding ideals.

And not only for ourselves — black rights struggles paved the way for every other rights struggle, including women’s and gay rights, immigrant and disability rights.

Without the idealistic, strenuous and patriotic efforts of black Americans, our democracy today would most likely look very different — it might not be a democracy at all.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2019, 06:58:27 am »
The 1619 Project

The very first person to die for this country in the American Revolution was a black man who himself was not free.

Crispus Attucks was a fugitive from slavery, yet he gave his life for a new nation in which his own people would not enjoy the liberties laid out in the Declaration for another century.

In every war this nation has waged since that first one, black Americans have fought — today we are the most likely of all racial groups to serve in the United States military.

My father, one of those many black Americans who answered the call, knew what it would take me years to understand:

that the year 1619 is as important to the American story as 1776.

That black Americans, as much as those men cast in alabaster in the nation’s capital, are this nation’s true ‘‘founding fathers.’’

And that no people has a greater claim to that flag than us.

In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson sat at his portable writing desk in a rented room in Philadelphia and penned these words:

‘‘We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’’

For the last 243 years, this fierce assertion of the fundamental and natural rights of humankind to freedom and self-governance has defined our global reputation as a land of liberty.

As Jefferson composed his inspiring words, however, a teenage boy who would enjoy none of those rights and liberties waited nearby to serve at his master’s beck and call.

His name was Robert Hemings, and he was the half brother of Jefferson’s wife, born to Martha Jefferson’s father and a woman he owned.

It was common for white enslavers to keep their half-black children in slavery.

Jefferson had chosen Hemings, from among about 130 enslaved people that worked on the forced-labor camp he called Monticello, to accompany him to Philadelphia and ensure his every comfort as he drafted the text making the case for a new democratic republic based on the individual rights of men.

At the time, one-fifth of the population within the 13 colonies struggled under a brutal system of slavery unlike anything that had existed in the world before.

Chattel slavery was not conditional but racial.

It was heritable and permanent, not temporary, meaning generations of black people were born into it and passed their enslaved status onto their children.

Enslaved people were not recognized as human beings but as property that could be mortgaged, traded, bought, sold, used as collateral, given as a gift and disposed of violently.

Jefferson’s fellow white colonists knew that black people were human beings, but they created a network of laws and customs, astounding for both their precision and cruelty, that ensured that enslaved people would never be treated as such.

As the abolitionist William Goodell wrote in 1853,

‘‘If any thing founded on falsehood might be called a science, we might add the system of American slavery to the list of the strict sciences.’’

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2019, 07:14:26 pm »
Sunday, 25th August 2019
Bells to toll Sunday for enslaved Africans brought to U.S. in 1619
by Rosalind Bentley

Four hundred years ago this week, the first enslaved Africans were brought to the British colony of Virginia.

Those roughly two dozen Africans were the start of a centuries-long tide of black people sold into bondage and brought to toil in what would become the United States.

On Sunday, Episcopal churches in metro Atlanta will commemorate the August 1619 arrival of those first Africans by tolling church bells in their memory at 3 p.m.

The bell ringing is part of a national initiative to get Americans to recognize the historical importance of the arrival of the Africans.

It’s also to honor the role that they, and those who came after them, played in building the nation.

The National Park Service is also encouraging all 419 parks in its system to ring bells for four minutes beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Each minute is meant to represent each century.

While 12 million Africans were brought to the Caribbean and South and Central America, only 389,000 of them were brought to mainland North America.

The nation is still wrestling with the impact of slavery’s legacy on contemporary U.S. life.

The bell ringing is meant to symbolize the beginning of a healing, if not a reckoning.

In recent years, the Episcopal Church has tried to confront its role in perpetuating and profiting from slavery.

In 2008, it issued an extraordinary public statement apology for its links to slavery, segregation and discrimination.

And for those who don’t live near a participating church or national park, both the Episcopal Church and the Park Service are encouraging people to find a bell and ring it wherever they are.

Participating metro Atlanta churches include:

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 435 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta

St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, 3098 Saint Anne’s Lane NW, Atlanta

Cathedral of St. Philip, 2744 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta

St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church, 1790 La Vista Road NE, Atlanta

St. John’s Episcopal Church, 3480 Main St., College Park

Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal, 4140 Clark St. SW, Covington

The Episcopal Church of St. Peter & St. Paul, 1795 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 207 N. Greenwood St., LaGrange

St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church, 2160 Cooper Lake Road, Smyrna

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2019, 04:56:19 pm »
The 1619 Project

Enslaved people could not legally marry.

They were barred from learning to read and restricted from meeting privately in groups.

They had no claim to their own children, who could be bought, sold and traded away from them on auction blocks alongside furniture and cattle or behind storefronts that advertised

‘‘Negroes for Sale.’’

Enslavers and the courts did not honor kinship ties to mothers, siblings, cousins.

In most courts, they had no legal standing.

Enslavers could rape or murder their property without legal consequence.

Enslaved people could own nothing, will nothing and inherit nothing.

They were legally tortured, including by those working for Jefferson himself.

They could be worked to death, and often were, in order to produce the highest profits for the white people who owned them.

Yet in making the argument against Britain’s tyranny, one of the colonists’ favorite rhetorical devices was to claim that they were the slaves — to Britain.

For this duplicity, they faced burning criticism both at home and abroad.

As Samuel Johnson, an English writer and Tory opposed to American independence, quipped,

‘‘How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?’’

Conveniently left out of our founding mythology is the fact that one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.

By 1776, Britain had grown deeply conflicted over its role in the barbaric institution that had reshaped the Western Hemisphere.

In London, there were growing calls to abolish the slave trade.

This would have upended the economy of the colonies, in both the North and the South.

The wealth and prominence that allowed Jefferson, at just 33, and the other founding fathers to believe they could successfully break off from one of the mightiest empires in the world came from the dizzying profits generated by chattel slavery.

In other words, we may never have revolted against Britain if the founders had not understood that slavery empowered them to do so; nor if they had not believed that independence was required in order to ensure that slavery would continue.

It is not incidental that 10 of this nation’s first 12 presidents were enslavers, and some might argue that this nation was founded not as a democracy but as a slavocracy.

Jefferson and the other founders were keenly aware of this hypocrisy.

And so in Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence, he tried to argue that it wasn’t the colonists’ fault.

Instead, he blamed the king of England for forcing the institution of slavery on the unwilling colonists and called the trafficking in human beings a crime.

Yet neither Jefferson nor most of the founders intended to abolish slavery, and in the end, they struck the passage.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2019, 05:43:15 pm »
The 1619 Project

Yes, there was rebellion.
But smaller acts of resistance defined the daily lives of the enslaved.
by Hasan Kwame Jeffries

In teaching the history of American slavery accurately, it is essential to teach about African Americans’ resistance to slavery.

By focusing on resistance, educators reveal as false the myth that slavery was a benign institution and that enslavers were fundamentally kind.

If either were true, the enslaved would not have resisted.

Highlighting resistance also renders African Americans’ humanity plain to see.

African Americans fought back because they refused to accept their lot in life.

They wanted their freedom, and when that proved impossible to obtain, they endeavored to make life worth living, even under the most appalling conditions.

Rebellion was the most dramatic type of resistance to slavery.

In 1800, an enslaved blacksmith named Gabriel, who lived and worked near Richmond, plotted to topple the Old Dominion’s slaveholding regime.

Gabriel planned to lead a group of armed rebels to Richmond to seize the state capital.

Along the way, he intended to recruit fellow enslaved people and was willing to kill anyone who dared to stop them.

And to invoke the spirit of the American Revolution, as well as to call out the hypocrisy of American revolutionaries who refused to abolish slavery, he planned to carry a banner that read “Death or Liberty.”

But Gabriel’s bold bid to secure his freedom and spark a rebellion that would spread throughout the slaveholding South ended before it could really begin.

A torrential rain the night of the insurrection delayed the blacksmith’s plans just long enough for the plot to be revealed by a pair of enslaved turncoats.

Gabriel and 26 others would eventually be executed.

The freedom-seekers, however, showed neither regret nor remorse.

“I have nothing more to offer than what General Washington would have had to offer had he been taken by the British and put to trial by them,” declared one of Gabriel’s compatriots.

“I have adventured my life in endeavoring to obtain the liberty of my countrymen, and am a willing sacrifice in their cause.”

Rebellion, though, was not the only way that enslaved African Americans fought back.

Their resistance took many forms, from highly visible attempts to flee bondage, to nearly imperceptible acts of sabotage and subterfuge.

And while rebellion sought total liberation from slavery, most forms of resistance strove for something much less, for making life a bit more bearable until the Day of Jubilee finally arrived.

Regardless of form or function, resistance was never-ending.

As long as slavery existed, African Americans resisted.

Teaching resistance effectively requires focusing on more than a handful of highly visible and extremely dramatic attempts to secure freedom.

Accordingly, teachers must push beyond rebellions.

Uprisings make clear that African Americans who engaged in rebellion opposed slavery.

But because insurrections were so rare, when they are taught in isolation, students are left with the impression that the vast majority of enslaved people who did not rebel accepted their bondage.

Some even interpret this to mean that African Americans were complicit in their own enslavement.

It is not enough either simply to mention one or two enslaved people who escaped to freedom.

This has the same effect as narrowly focusing on rebellion.

It leaves students thinking that only those who attempted to flee wanted their freedom.

Instead, teachers must spend an equal if not greater amount of time on the subtler ways that African Americans resisted, drawing students’ attention to the everyday acts of defiance that were far more common than rebellion or flight.

Teachers have to talk about how enslaved people tried to minimize the amount of energy they expended toiling in fields by slowing the pace of work, feigning illness, breaking farming implements, injuring animals and sabotaging crops.

And how they took for themselves life’s essentials, from food to clothing, which they consumed, shared, traded and sold.

They have to explain how enslaved artisans honed and learned skills whenever possible, from blacksmithing to dressmaking, to increase their indispensability to those who profited off their labor and to decrease their chances of being sold and separated from loved ones.

They have to discuss how enslaved people attacked their enslavers’ property, burning their homes, barns and storage sheds.

These were purposeful acts of economic retaliation intended to strike enslavers where it hurt the most, in their wallets and purses.

And teachers have to highlight the important cultural ways African Americans resisted.

Enslaved people formed families whenever possible, marrying, bearing children and keeping those children with them as long as possible.

They also held onto African cultural traditions, such as religious worship practices, which remain visible today among their descendants.

Resistance to slavery demonstrates the harsh reality of the institution and makes clear the essential humanity of enslaved people.

But these important lessons about American slavery are lost when we teach resistance too narrowly.

When we focus only on dramatic rebellions or escapes and ignore the more common, mundane acts of resistance such as work slowdowns, we leave students with the false impression that African Americans did not care to be free.

And nothing could be further from the truth.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2019, 10:34:37 pm »
Saturday, 31st August 2019
Racial Inequality Is Rooted in Denial of Home and Land Ownership

Story Transcript

JACQUELINE LUQMAN: This is Jacqueline Luqman with The Real News Network.
The racial wealth gap is finally being discussed seriously in this election cycle and in the country. And some people are even citing the history of slavery, racism, and discrimination that created the racial wealth gap. One of the key factors in the creation of this phenomenon of the racial wealth gap is housing policy. Or more specifically, there is a link between the ability white people have historically had to own property and homes that have accumulated value and created wealth, that they were able to pass down to future generations, that black people were not allowed to enjoy equally.

Joining me to talk more about this issue, some of the policies that created it, and potential policies that could finally tackle it, is Professor Mehrsa Baradaran. Professor Baradaran is a Professor of Law at UC-Irvine Law School, and the author of The Color of Money and How the Other Half Banks. Professor Baradaran, thank you so much for joining me today.

MEHRSA BARADARAN:  Thank you so much for having me. I love your network and I’m always happy to talk to you.

JACQUELINE LUQMAN: Well, let’s dig into this topic because there is so much, and I want to connect as many dots as we possibly can.


JACQUELINE LUQMAN: I want to start with, why should we focus on policies that address the racial wealth gap specifically, and not just the general economic inequality that all Americans are concerned about? Because the areas that are being discussed as economically distressed, are economically distressed for specific reasons, so could you explain that a little bit?

MEHRSA BARADARAN: Yeah. I mean, this whole class versus race debate I feel like is this boogeyman that people say, “Well, why isn’t it everybody?” And I think we have a race-based class system in the US. And so, every time you want to talk about the racial wealth gap, you get a cohort of people saying, “Well, isn’t it just class?” And by the way, it’s the same cohort of people that doesn’t want to talk about class, ever. So I mean, those arguments for me I think are just a way to shut down this conversation. But why talk about specifically the black-white racial wealth gap, and not generally poverty, or generally racism, and things like that? And the reason is because we have had an economic system, a housing system, a school system, a credit system, that has specifically excluded black populations through housing, through student loans, through credit, through businesses, from the wealth accumulation of whites. And whiteness has been defined differently throughout time. And so we can go through the history of whiteness, but all of it has been built on an anti-blackness.

And so, I think we need to talk about the racial wealth gap if we’re going to understand any of the sort of anti-poverty movements in this country. We have to talk about the racial wealth gap if we’re going to talk about housing, or schools, or anything like that. You can’t understand why we have the gaps that we do and the inequalities that we do until you understand it was all based on anti-black racism and segregation. And this racial wealth gap was created purposefully. It was maintained over time through policies that were federal, state and local. And it is still ongoing, and it still self-perpetuates now without added inputs.

And I also want to be clear that, though I talk a lot about fixing the racial wealth gap through housing and through a variety of different policies, I think what is the most important policy thing that we can do is to talk about reparations in a serious methodological way. Just to measure the harms done, to look at the theories of justice that would justify a solid and robust reparations program, and just start to go down that road. But there’s a lot that could be done also just focusing on housing before we get there.

JACQUELINE LUQMAN: And you bring up a good point because you bring up the discussion of reparations and the need to methodically study the harm done, the impact of the harm done, and the lasting legacy of the harm done, which incidentally or not incidentally, is what the House bill H.R. 40 does. That has always been the focus of H.R. 40. People mistake it as a piece of legislation that’s literally going to cut a check for black people. But no, it is literally to do exactly what you just said: to embark upon the methodical, scientific, historical, data-driven study of not just slavery, but the impacts of Jim Crow, segregation, redlining, all those other things. So that’s a great aside that I’m so glad you brought up.

MEHRSA BARADARAN: Absolutely. And I think when you talk about reparations to people, I mean, I think they want to immediately go to, “How does it work?” But I see that as step four or five or six, right? Step one is we need to just catalog the ways in which wealth was extracted, that wealth was deprived for these communities, that there was exploitation and exclusion. Measure that, measure the benefits to those who excluded and exploited, and then measure the harm. So that’s step one and two.

Step three is to look at, what are the possible theories of justice? I mean, I teach contracts. I teach contracts damages, and there’s a variety of ways that we talk about justice. You can compensate people if you breach a contract, which the US government has breached its contract to the black population over, and over, and over again, right? They did it with the Native American treaties also, but they have done it with black populations without recognition that they had any duties and that they were violated. So what does that breach entail? How do you make it right? How do you make a remedy? So when we talk about contracts, we talk about, okay, do you compensate for the wrongs? Do you make them whole? What does that look like? Do you look at unjust enrichment? What did you gain unjustly through slavery, through Jim Crow, through segregation? How do you measure that?

We talk about all of these other aspects and theories of justice. Just apply that here and say, “What does that look like to make people whole for slavery, for Jim Crow, for segregation? And how do we do that?” And we know how to do this stuff. It’s not rocket science and it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility. I mean, you see—Recently I was at the DOJ. And Wells Fargo, when it gets by violations for racial discrimination, the DOJ comes down hard on them, takes a fee of about $7 billion or something like that, and they put it in a pot to be used in the community to give down payments. So this is, it’s not exactly like, “You harmed a certain set of people through racially discriminatory policies, and your remedy is going to be to create a fund of some sort to pay back different people, but within that same community.”

And so we do this stuff all the time in law. And a lot of times in this reparations context, you see people just holding up barriers like, “Oh, we can’t do that. The people aren’t alive,” blah, blah, blah. And that’s fine. It’s never been a barrier before. So that’s just reparations. Back to racial wealth gap policy, I think you can look at the ways in which the racial wealth gap currently self-perpetuates, so this is in disparate housing, disparate schooling, disparate credit, and to remedy those different segments of the credit-banking sort of economy, and sort of lower the gaps.

JACQUELINE LUQMAN: So specifically focusing on housing in this conversation because it has been argued by several experts. I think Forbes Magazine has pointed this out. Certainly the study that was published last year by Duke University that recognized that housing is a significant, or the disparity in housing is a significant contributor to the racial wealth gap because of the way certain groups of people were able to benefit from owning land and housing, and other groups of people were not.

And as you said, compensating people for harm done has been something that has been done and continues to be done when, in the example you used, when Wells Fargo discriminates against people and the federal government goes after them and extracts a fine from them. Recently, have there been efforts— and by recently, I do mean in the past 40 years— have there been policy efforts to address, even on the surface, the legacy of this unequal housing policy? And have they worked and why haven’t they?

MEHRSA BARADARAN: There has not. There has not been a single active policy to remedy the disparate housing policies. There have been policies like the Fair Housing Act that was passed in 1968 to prohibit discrimination against African Americans or other minorities. And those are fine, but that’s about sort of pegging violations and saying … That’s where the DOJ actions come in. It’s about enforcement, so stop discriminating. However, as you know, you can have disparate impact on housing. So you can create zoning restrictions. You can suck wealth out of communities. You can segregate as long as you’re not doing it racially, but you’re doing it because of—Places where you put certain public housing, or where you don’t allow certain building spaces in certain communities, then that doesn’t count, right?

So I think, going back to the original sort of 1968 debate over fair housing, everyone understood that it was either about—You have this, starting in the 1930s, as you know about redlining, right, and you have just the two different housing sectors. One is tenants. You’re paying rent. You’re living in an apartment. It’s segregated. It’s cramped. You’re just kind of being put in this place. You’re not getting a mortgage. You’re not getting credit. In the white suburbs, you’re building wealth, you’re getting credit, all of that stuff. Those things were incredibly consequential. What we’ve never done is say, “Okay, we did this race-based housing market, now let’s fix it.”
How do you do that? You either put capital into the segregated black spaces, so that’s a reparations program. There’s a couple – like CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, in 1968 passed a bill that would create a World Bank-type thing within the black spaces that would just be capitalized by Treasury and just put money back in, right? So this was a reparations-style thing that almost got passed. But then Nixon obviously puts that stuff away. The other is integration. In MLK’s coalition, people like George Romney and Robert Kennedy actually coming up with integration programs, and this would be actually giving people homes wherever they want it, right? Or building nice places within integrated spaces. And that got shut down quickly by Richard Nixon, who understands that he is elected to stop integration, to stop school integration and housing integration.

And so what we have today is a housing policy where white families pay to live in all-white spaces and have all-white schools. I mean, we essentially have –  everything comes down to housing in this country, class specifically. And educational access and social capital and all of that stuff, it’s whether you can buy a million-dollar house in some suburb in DC and send your kids to the best schools in the country. And if you can’t, you’re sort of on this different track, and your house is not going to gain in value. The schools are not going to be as well-funded because the funding comes from local taxes. You’re not going to have the social capital because the businesses don’t have enough capital to thrive. So all of that I think, it’s not just housing, but housing is a root cause and it’s all interrelated. Yeah.


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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2019, 10:47:42 pm »
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: So you brought up Richard Nixon and he’s an important, I think, figure in this conversation because an initiative that may have begun with him, continues to be perpetrated. Allegedly, to address this issue of housing inequality at least, or at least resolving the issue of economically depressed neighborhoods, right? So Nixon introduced this thing called “opportunity zones” in opposition to the proposals for economic redress for people centered around housing. He introduced this idea of opportunity zones, where basically investment, private investors would be given tax breaks to invest in these economically depressed neighborhoods. And this has been perpetuated ever since Nixon. As a matter of fact, the Trump administration has a new policy that’s centered around opportunity zones. Does this work? Does this work to address this, especially racial inequality in the housing market?

MEHRSA BARADARAN: No. And let me clarify, because I wrote – I mean, my book is centered around this, Nixon’s idea, and he was not the first person that called it “opportunity zones.” He called it “black capitalism.”


MEHRSA BARADARAN: And the idea is this. You’ve got reparations, one group, so the Black Power groups that were demanding reparations, and you’ve got another coalition demanding integration. And instead, he sort of goes the middle or nothing. He’s not going to give anything. And what it is, is, “I will co-opt the language of the Black Power movement asking for black power.” And what they meant by black power is sovereignty within the black spaces, capital, and redress, right? But what Nixon meant is, “We’re going to maintain the segregated economy and the segregated housing system, and we’re going to do this thing where we try to coax private entities to come in and build businesses and make loans and stuff in that community.” So then it morphs into enterprise zones in the Reagan era. He calls it “enterprise zones.” And then Clinton actually doubles down on this also, he calls it “enterprise zones.” It used to be called “the black ghetto” because it was understood that it was forced segregation. And over time, that term gets whitewashed and it becomes an entrepreneurship zone, an enterprise zone, and an opportunity zone.

And so this opportunity zone program of Trump’s leads directly back to Nixon. And what it was, was a decoy from actual policy. It’s not capital, and it’s not integration. It’s not real. It is just a way to give tax incentives and sort of goodies to private equity firms to come in and build in those spaces. The community does not get the equity. So the best-case scenario is gentrification and displacement, right? So [crosstalk]

JACQUELINE LUQMAN: That’s the best-case scenario?

MEHRSA BARADARAN: The best-case scenario is that a community gets revitalized, right? That’s the point. And what does that mean? A Whole Foods comes in, Starbucks comes in, all of that stuff. There’s no effort to pass that equity onto the people, right? The people who live there. So the best-case scenario with revitalization is what happens in Harlem or in Brooklyn. I’m from New York, so we’ve seen this happen. And the tenants, who don’t own the land, get displaced. And the people that gain the equity are the first comers, right? The sort of – we call them yuppies, professionals. The people who can come in and buy, and then turn over and sell.

JACQUELINE LUQMAN: Wow. So the best-case scenario in regard to these kinds of investment in distressed communities isn’t a best-case scenario for the people who live there. It’s a best-case scenario for the investors. So, all right. This is – we don’t have a lot of time left, but I need to ask you about your proposal, which is called the 21st Century Homestead Act. I want to ask you about why the proposal will work differently from this idea of opportunity zones, and economic zones, and private investment that we just talked about. But could you go into, really quickly, the reason the title is important? Because, historically, it absolutely is.

MEHRSA BARADARAN: Yeah. So I want to make sure, I mean, the Homestead Act was hugely problematic in a lot of ways. One is that it kicked Native Americans off their land, it was environmentally not great, and it excluded black families. But I’m using this because it did build white wealth, and I want to do it right this time, right? So I think hearkening back to this era of white affirmative action and policies that give white people land and money, right, the Homestead Act and the FHA are two, to do them differently this time. I think that’s why it’s important to use those terms to say, when people say, “This is crazy.” And the response is, “Well, we did this before. We just did it for the – we did it for white people and not everyone else.”

So the idea of the Homestead Act is to revitalize communities, but to give the land to the residents of the communities first. So Baltimore did try to do a Dollar Homes program a while back. The problem was that the banks wouldn’t lend for improvements because the property values were so low, and they couldn’t get the appraisals to come in at anywhere near the price. And so, my Homestead Act, you would get the land for free and you would get improvements, all provided by a grant administered by the federal government and the city itself.

And so the qualifying individuals would be anyone who’s lived in a redlined community for the past five to 10 years, a formerly redlined segregated community. They’ve got a bunch of different restrictions. We’re trying to get at not just the people in that area who have lived there. So we’re not trying to target investors, no gentrifiers. It’s just the locals who live there. You get a home, you get an improved home, and you’re paying less than you would in rent, and you get to own the home as it sort of increases in value. And you get to have that equity as the place revitalizes.

So along with the home, there’s also a jobs programs. I mean, akin to the New Deal, akin to the FHA, you can’t just give people a home and say, “Okay, just pay for it.” There’s also got to be a jobs program that comes along with it. So what do you do? So I’ve got a variety of different ways that cities can create jobs. And the easiest way would be to do  what the government already does— a lot of VA hospitals and Energy Department loans and things like that. And the idea would be to couple one of those projects or facilities with an area that needs this revitalization. So whether it’s Baltimore or Detroit, Dayton, Ohio, anywhere that is a formerly segregated space that still has retained a largely black population, as opposed to places that were segregated and are now gentrified, right? So places in St. Louis where it used to be a black population and now it’s all gentrified. So you would actually go to, let’s say Ferguson as opposed to inner city St. Louis, and within Ferguson. That’s where you would do the handover of property.

JACQUELINE LUQMAN: This is really an amazing proposal, not because it’s groundbreaking because it really isn’t. Because as you said, Professor Baradaran, we’ve done this before. This country has done this before. It just wasn’t done for black people. It wasn’t done for Native people. And we are finally broaching the topic of doing this for people who were left out in the beginning. Of course, there’s so much more to get into about this topic, but we just scratched the surface today. And unfortunately, we don’t have any more time. But I would love to continue this topic not just on the urban/suburban focus that a lot of these proposals, whether they worked or not, have been geared toward, but also the impact of the same kind of racist policies that have had on black farmers, and how land value and the accumulation of wealth through land has also impacted black people in rural areas. But for now, Professor Baradaran, I thank you so much for coming on today and talking to me about this subject.

MEHRSA BARADARAN: Thank you so much for having me. And if anyone’s curious, there’s a lot more information in the book. It’s hard to talk fast and cover everything, but I kind of wrote it all down, and I hope that people find it useful.

JACQUELINE LUQMAN: I am absolutely sure they will. I did. I highly recommend Professor Baradaran’s work. I’m absolutely being very biased right now as a journalist, but I thank you all for watching. This is Jacqueline Luqman from Baltimore with The Real News Network.

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