Author Topic: The 1619 Project  (Read 10735 times)

Offline Battle

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #15 on: August 31, 2019, 12:30:10 pm »
Friday, 30th August 2019
Teaching America’s truth
by Joe Heim

Pacing his classroom in north-central Iowa, Tom McClimon prepared to deliver an essential truth about American history to his eighth-grade students.

He stopped and slowly raised his index finger in front of his chest.

“Think about this. For 246 years, slavery was legal in America.

It wasn’t made illegal until 154 years ago,” the 26-year-old teacher told the 23 students sitting before him at Fort Dodge Middle School.

“So, what does that mean? It means slavery has been a part of America much longer than it hasn’t been a part of America.”

It is a simple observation, but it is also a revelatory way to think about slavery in America and its inextricable role in the country’s founding, evolution and present.

Ours is a nation born as much in chains as in freedom.

A century and a half after slavery was made illegal — and 400 years after the first documented arrival of enslaved people from Africa in Virginia — the trauma of this inherited disease lingers.

But telling the truth about slavery in American public schools has long been a failing proposition.

Many teachers feel ill-prepared, and textbooks rarely do more than skim the surface.
There is too much pain to explore.

Too much guilt, ignorance, denial.

It is why, just four years ago, textbooks told students “workers” were brought from Africa to America, not men, women and children in chains.

It is why, last year, a teacher asked students to list “positive” aspects of slavery.

It is why, even in 2019, there are teachers in schools who still think holding mock auctions is a good way for students to learn about slavery.

Misinformation and flawed teaching about America’s “original sin” fills our classrooms from an early age.

And yet as issues of race and prejudice and privilege continue to roil America, an understanding of how slavery forged the country seems all the more necessary.

Many of the Democratic presidential candidates say the nation should explore whether to pay some form of reparations to descendants of enslaved people — an issue that has been off the radar in previous presidential campaigns.

And the rise of violence and vitriol fueled by white supremacy over the past decade — from the Charleston, S.C., church massacre to torchlight marches and murder in Charlottesville to the casual racism of public officials and leaders — reinforces the need for a deeper understanding of how slavery fostered and upheld that belief system.

A range of critics — historians, educators, civil rights activists — want to change how schools teach the subject.

The evidence of slavery’s legacy is all around us, they say, pointing to the persistence of segregation in schools, the gaping racial disparities in income and wealth, and the damage done to black families by the U.S. criminal justice system.

According to a 2018 report to the United Nations by the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organization that advocates reducing racial disparities in prison sentences, American judges will send one in three black boys born in 2001 to prison in their lifetimes, compared with one in 17 white boys born the same year.

The failure to educate students about slavery prevents a full and honest reckoning with its ongoing cost in America.

Teaching the truth about slavery, critics argue, could help remedy that.

But that means acknowledging and exploring slavery’s depravity.

It means telling the personal stories of enslaved people, the physical and psychological cruelty they endured, the sexual violence inflicted upon them, the separation of husbands and wives, parents and children.

The difficult truth means explaining to students not just how this practice of institutionalized evil came to be but also how it was accepted, embraced and inculcated in American daily life since enslaved Africans were brought to Jamestown, Va., 400 years ago.

Slavery was not accepted by everyone, of course, but by enough that it was protected by laws, reinforced by practice and justified or excused in all corners of the country.

For the 50 million students attending public school in America, how they are taught about America’s history of slavery and its deprivations is as fundamental as how they are taught about the Declaration of Independence and its core assertion that “all men are created equal.”

A deep understanding of one without a deep understanding of the other is to not know America at all.

McClimon wanted the hard lessons about slavery to sink in as he led students through course work that didn’t shrink from describing its horrors.

He showed them a photo of an enslaved man so severely whipped that his back was more scar tissue than smooth skin.

They watched Hollywood actors read devastating personal accounts of former slaves, some of whom had been separated from loved ones they would never see again.

They discussed resistance, escapes, uprisings.

“A lot of times we forget that as soon as slavery started, enslaved people were fighting back,” McClimon told the students, a lesson that contradicts the idea, often taught in the last century, that enslaved people endured their lot complacently, sometimes even happily.

Later, McClimon, who is white, urged his students to examine how white supremacy allowed slavery to flourish, and he asked,

“Is our idea of white supremacy different now than it was then?”

The history of slavery McClimon teaches bears almost no resemblance to the history he learned as a middle school and high school student a little more than a decade ago.

Then, he said, teachers spent a day or two on slavery.

It was discussed primarily as a factor in the Civil War.

Not much else.

In many ways, McClimon’s experience as a student was, and still is, typical.

But it is not the approach the Fort Dodge Community School District has embraced. Two years ago, the district started teaching slavery as fundamental to America’s growth, wealth and identity rather than as a tangential part of the country’s history.

Slavery would be emphasized and fully explored, not avoided or downplayed.

Throughout the 20th century, textbooks often glossed over slavery, treating it not as central to the American story but as an unfortunate blemish washed away by the blood of the Civil War.

Students rarely learned that slavery had for a time been prevalent in the North or that the economy of the North was long reliant on the South’s slave-labor production.

The enslavement of Native Americans, which predates the arrival of the first enslaved Africans, was mentioned only in passing, if at all.

Many baby boomers were fed tales in school that masked the reality of slavery.

Some teaching even emphasized the idea that Africans brought here in chains were actually better off.

“With all the drawbacks of slavery, it should be noted that slavery was the earliest form of social security in the United States,” students read in Alabama history textbooks of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

And there was this:

“A jail sentence or the execution of a slave was considered to be more of a punishment for the master than for the slave, because the slave was such valuable property.”

A Virginia textbook of the same era told students that Virginia “offered a better life for the Negroes than did Africa. In his new home, the Negro was far away from the spears and war clubs of enemy tribes. He had some of the comforts of civilized life.”

The punishment of enslaved people was described as rare and unfortunate, but necessary.

“Most masters did not want to punish their slaves severely,” the Virginia textbook read.

“In those days whipping was also the usual method of correcting children. The planter looked upon his slaves as children and punished them as such.”

These benevolent depictions of slavery were not a matter of happenstance.

They were a direct result of efforts by Confederate apologists in the early 20th century to remove negative portrayals of the South from textbooks and history books.

In 1920, Mildred Lewis Rutherford, an educator and historian of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, wrote “A Measuring Rod to Test Text Books, and Reference Books in Schools, Colleges and Libraries,” a guide distributed throughout the South that proposed strict rules for what could be included in books for Southern students.

“Reject a book that says the South fought to hold her slaves,” Rutherford wrote.

“Reject a book that speaks of the slaveholder of the South as cruel and unjust to his slaves.”

It was a reeducation campaign that made lies of truth.

In fact, states that seceded from the Union made clear that they fought to hold their slaves.

Soon after his election as president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis said:

“We recognized the Negro as God and God’s Book and God’s laws, in nature, tell us to recognize him. Our inferior, fitted expressly for servitude … You cannot transform the Negro into anything one-tenth as useful or as good as what slavery enables them to be.”

By the last two decades of the 20th century, many of the more egregious falsehoods and excuses regarding slavery were removed from textbooks. But getting at the truth was still elusive.

The narrative of slavery became more notable for what it didn’t say than what it did.

Philip Jackson, an American history teacher in Montgomery County, Md., remembers learning little about slavery when he attended public school in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the same county where he now teaches.

“Pretty much all anyone knew about slavery was ‘Gone with the Wind,’ ” Jackson, who is African American, said in his classroom at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Germantown, Md., a growing suburb north of Washington.

“I don’t remember ever going into any depth about slavery other than that there was slavery. The textbooks were pretty whitewashed. We never talked about the conditions of slavery or why it persisted.”

For Jackson and many students of the time, the most in-depth learning they had about slavery came from watching “Roots,” the 1977 miniseries — based on the Alex Haley novel — that was shown for years in classrooms throughout the country.

Jackson’s experience is similar to that of several generations of Americans.

If they remember being taught about slavery at all, they don’t recall its importance being emphasized, and they certainly were not told that slavery was part of the foundation on which America was built.

It would be some solace to know that the dubious scholarship and outright lies that informed instruction about slavery for millions of students throughout the 20th century were things of the past.

But false or misleading lessons about slavery aren’t confined to dusty tomes or the classrooms of yesteryear.

A textbook used by a Texas public charter school chain in the 2000s taught:

“While there were cruel masters who maimed or even killed their slaves (although killing and maiming were against the law in every state), there were also kind and generous owners … Many [enslaved people] may not have even been terribly unhappy with their lot, for they knew no other.”

And rarely a semester passes without news of students being taught about slavery through a reenactment of a slave auction, a physical education class that requires kids to run an obstacle course while pretending to flee slavery, or a math problem that asks third-graders such questions as:

“A tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?”


“If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?”

These incidents almost always prompt outrage and are followed by apologies.

And yet they continue.

That they have not disappeared, critics say, is a sign that lessons aren’t being learned and that many teachers lack a critical understanding of slavery and how to teach about it.

The furor that erupts also points to how incendiary the issue is and, in many ways, how little the country has done to reconcile with its legacy.

“Teaching about slavery is a loaded subject, and it’s loaded because everyone knows that it’s not really about the past,” said Maureen Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance, a civil rights education project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The nonprofit released a study last year examining how students are taught about slavery and suggesting ways to improve that education.

The study, “Teaching Hard History,” found that students were not learning nuanced and many-layered lessons about slavery.

And they were often not learning basic facts.

Included in the report was a survey of high school seniors that revealed a fundamental lack of knowledge about various aspects of slavery.

Few identified slavery as the primary cause of the Civil War.

And the majority of respondents were not able to identify the middle passage as the transatlantic journey endured by 12 million Africans who were brought to the Americas and Caribbean, chained together and crammed into the holds of ships.

Even fewer who took the survey correctly answered that it took a constitutional amendment to bring slavery to an end.

A Washington Post-SSRS poll this summer showed that just under half of Americans know that slavery existed in all 13 colonies.

As for the Civil War, 52 percent said that slavery was the main cause, while 41 percent said it was something other than slavery.

If slavery hasn’t been particularly well taught, Americans still believe that its legacy continues to be felt.

Sixty-seven percent said slavery affects U.S. society today either a great deal (31 percent) or a fair amount (36 percent).

Eleven percent said it has no effect today.

Exploring that legacy has been eye-opening for many students The Post interviewed.

“Obviously, there’s not slavery anymore, but the effects of it and the racial tensions, we still see today,” said Alexandra Steffens, who graduated in June from Concord Middle School in Concord, Mass.

Steffens, who is white, spent a large chunk of her eighth-grade history class studying the history of slavery in America.

“A lot of times, you learn about slavery, but you don’t learn about the actual cruelties of it, and you just kind of see it as a big thing and not in individual acts,” she said.

Amari Bennet, who graduated in May from Ramsay High School in Birmingham, Ala., said that instances of police brutality toward African Americans and mass incarceration of blacks reinforce her sense that the past is still very much with us.

“Studying slavery kind of shows how we ended up where we are now,” said Bennet, who is black.

“Even though we’ve progressed to such a vast extent from slavery times, we still have issues with civil rights that we’re dealing with today.”

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2019, 07:49:44 am »
The 1619 Project

New York Times Magazine unveiled the 1619 Project - a collection of writings which re-examines slavery in the United States &  its impact on people of color today 400 years after the first slave ship arrived in this country.

Reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones leads the project which includes multiple pieces from top reporters.

She sits down with Ebro in the Morning of HOT 97 to break down the impressive and ambitious piece of work as well as the history of slavery of America and how we continue to see its effects today.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #17 on: September 01, 2019, 01:15:27 pm »
The 1619 Project

Slavery’s horror included family separation, despite the portrayal in some history textbooks
by Daina Ramey & Keffrelyn D. Brown

In the spring of 1859 at a horse racetrack outside Savannah, Ga., more than 400 enslaved people were auctioned off in the largest sale in U.S. history.

They came from Maj. Pierce Butler’s plantations and had spent all of their lives enslaved under one family.

Two and three generations deep, the men, women and children were to be sold in family units, but that did not happen.

According to one account, “the man and wife might be sold to the pine woods of North Carolina, their brothers and sisters be scattered through the cotton fields of Alabama and the rice swamps of Louisiana, while the parents might be left on the old plantation to wear out their weary lives in heavy grief, and lay their heads in far-off graves, over which their children might never weep.”

When considering how the history of slavery is taught in kindergarten through 12th grade, most educators emphasize that families remained together and that slavery in the United States was unique for this reason.

History textbooks show images of the slave quarters where men, women and children of all ages sit leisurely outside their cabins.

It is a palatable way to teach this history of such an inhumane institution.

However, the reality of slavery from the enslaved perspective paints a much different portrait.

Most enslaved people experienced sales and separations four to five times in their lifetime.

This means that they were separated from their families more often than not.

Newspaper accounts reporting on auctions listed the human property for sale in family groupings, but buyers rarely kept families intact.

They purchased specific enslaved people to suit their needs and priorities.

As a historian of slavery and scholars of curriculum and instruction who also train K-12 teachers at the University of Texas at Austin, we are developing curriculum to help share this history in a way that reflects the experiences of the enslaved.

How do we account for a 3-day-old infant in the market for sale without the parents?

What does it mean that we find hundreds of children younger than 10 up for sale?

These were the realities of slavery and represent the history that we are helping teachers share with their students.

The selling off of husbands, wives and children was a central part of the system, and enslaved people lived in constant fear as a result.

The enslaved families sold in Savannah referred to the auction as “the Weeping Time” because so many tears were shed over the two-day auction.

Scholars who write about it have provided a context to this large sale, and educators can use it to teach their students about the complexities of U.S. slavery.

One of the key dilemmas teachers must navigate when teaching about U.S. slavery is acknowledging it as a dehumanizing and oppressive system that affected people’s everyday realities.

It was also a system that individuals resisted and subverted as an expression of their value and humanity.

It is also important to note how this history was situated within a system of anti-black racism, in which black bodies were reduced to commodities.

Situating these histories in the classroom, however, requires teachers to consider two prevailing tensions about African American families in the context of slavery.

The first is for teachers to thoroughly explore the material interests tied to the separation of families and children.

K-12 classrooms should engage in historical inquiry that explores the intersection between the institutional interests of enslaved labor and how the buying and selling of mothers, fathers and children existed in the wider industry of slavery.

Teachers should also consider how families sought to maintain relationships within the context of a system geared to separate and dissipate the black family.

For example, the institution of slavery framed what counted as a “legal” marriage and who could officially marry.

Enslaved people were generally denied this right. Yet they sought out and created loving unions, despite institutional barriers.

From this perspective, we suggest that classrooms explore the impact that slavery had on families while considering the humanity of enslaved Africans as they resisted systemic constraints to maintain hope.

Teachers should use primary source documents taken from county records, estate documents and letters.

This approach alone is not just about teaching young people about slavery and its impact on families; it also helps students develop an understanding of the history of racism in the United States.

Studying the case of slavery and its impact on families allows students to acquire a deeper understanding of how race and racism formed in the United States as a structural phenomenon, touching people’s everyday lives.

For example, students should understand the context of the auction block — the common spectacle for separating families — not simply as a sociocultural moment where “bad men did bad things” but more as a mechanism of white racial rule.

Despite the dramatic and normalized impact of the auction block, families persisted to maintain a modicum of humanity.

The teaching of these difficult histories is an important step in educating a citizenry able to make sense of the historical antecedents of America’s racial past and present.

For the 400 families sold on the eve of the Civil War who shed tears and said goodbye to loved ones, part of their survival is our memory of them and our teaching this history should include that they survived and re-created family connections.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2019, 06:11:36 am »
Monday, 2nd September 2019 (originally published Thursday, 27th April 2017)
Whitewashing Ancient Statues: Whiteness, Racism And Color In The Ancient World
by Sarah Bond

Although we often romanticize the bare marble of ancient sculpture today, most of these specimens were in fact painted in bright shades of blue, red, yellow, brown and many other hues.

Over the past few decades, scientists have worked diligently to study the often-minute traces of paint, inlay and gold leaf used on ancient statues and to use digital technologies to restore them to their original polychromy.

As this history of painted statuary returns to view, it brings with it an unsettling question:

if we know these statues were polychromatic, why do they remain lily white in our popular imagination?

How we color (or fail to color) classical antiquity is often a result of our own cultural values.

Before a show on color in antiquity at Frankfurt's Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, art historian Max Hollein noted that well into the twenty-first century, the idea of a "pure, marble-white Antiquity" prevailed despite many hints that sculpture was often painted.

One influential purveyor of this falsehood was Johann Joachim Winckelmann (d. 1768).

His two volumes on the history of ancient art, Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums, were hugely popular in Europe and helped define art history as we know it today.

They also perpetuated and further entrenched the idea that white marble statues like the famed Apollo of the Belvedere were the epitome of beauty.

The Apollo of the Belvedere is itself a marble copy of a Greek original likely done in bronze in the 4th century BCE.

While many Greek sculptors used bronze for their statuary work, Romans preferred the more durable marble.

Particularly during the Roman empire of the second and third centuries CE, sculptors made use of marble more regularly in their copies of bronze originals.
While the Romans were, in part, making material decisions, Winckelmann saw something else.

In white marble classical sculpture, he viewed the embodiment of ideal beauty.

As emerita Princeton historian Nell Irvin Painter details in her book The History of White People, Winckelmann was himself a Eurocentrist who regularly denigrated non-European nationalities such as the Chinese or the Kalmyk.

As she puts it, "color in sculpture came to mean barbarism, for they assumed that the lofty ancient Greeks were too sophisticated to color their art."

Winckelmann was wrong, of course, but his visual narrative continues to be told.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2019, 07:24:38 am »
Tuesday, 3rd September 2019
Slouching back to Calhoun
by John Fabian Witt

Last month, my colleague Anthony Kronman, the former dean of Yale Law School, published a book contending that efforts to nurture diversity on campus are undermining the core values of America’s great universities.
The book takes special aim at the decision to rename the Yale college formerly known as Calhoun College, named after John Calhoun, a South Carolina statesman and leading defender of slavery.

Kronman says that colleges and universities have a responsibility to “cultivate the capacity for enduring the moral ambiguities of life.”

He calls the renaming decision “an educational disgrace,” compares renaming to the Soviet Politburo and charges those who participated in the decision with “a glaring intellectual failure.”

These judgments are of special interest to me.

I chaired the committee that developed the guidelines leading to Calhoun’s renaming.

I consider Dean Kronman a friend.

He was my teacher.

I admire the fierce energy of his mind.

His observations about the renaming of Calhoun are candid and direct.

I, too, will cut to the chase.

Kronman is wrong about diversity.

He misstates the guidelines our committee produced.

He insults students and colleagues in an ill-considered fit of pique.

It pains me to say that he does a disservice to the very values he purports to defend.

Here is what Yale’s Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming did.

In the spring of 2016, University President Peter Salovey announced an initial decision to retain the name of Calhoun College.

Discontent with the decision led him to convene our committee later that summer.

We studied renaming and its discontents in world history and in recent controversies on university campuses.

We consulted leading scholars and educators with a range of views on the question.

We researched extensively in the University archives.

We held open conversations around the campus and with hundreds of alumni and faculty members.

At the end of the fall term, we produced a report setting out what we found and articulating guidelines to help identify instances in which a historical building name ought to be altered.

Our report began with “the central mission” of the University:

“to discover and disseminate knowledge.”

We established a “strong presumption” in favor of keeping names, including complicated and difficult names.

We added strength to that presumption when a namesake contributed substantially to the life of the University.

We then articulated four questions to ask in determining whether renaming is appropriate.

The first was whether “a principal legacy of the namesake” is “fundamentally at odds with the mission of the University.”

Our second question was whether the legacy in question is “significantly contested in the time and place in which the namesake lived.”

Our third question asked whether the University’s original decision to use a particular name was motivated by reasons at odds with the University’s mission.

Finally, we asked about the purpose of the building at issue.

Buildings that “play a substantial role in forming community,” especially buildings to which students are assigned without choice, are different than buildings that serve mainly as intellectual or study spaces.

In the rare instance of a renaming, we added, the University has obligations to preserve the history of a name and its place on the campus.

We also studied and reported on the life and ideas of John Calhoun.

We explored his theoretical contributions, his deeply flawed views of race and his defense of slavery as a positive good.

We produced a definitive account of the naming of Calhoun College, uncovering a fuller story than had before appeared.

And we reiterated the central mission of the University.

You would not know much of this from Kronman’s book.

Kronman writes about the “the totalitarian regimes of the Nazis and Soviets,” which erased history and substituted false narratives better suited to the political needs of the regime.

He coyly insists that he is not comparing our committee to the Soviet Politburo.

But no one was talking about a Politburo on campus until the critics of renaming started doing so.

Readers of Kronman’s book will not know it, but our committee took up the topic of totalitarian renamings.

We agreed that they are anathema to the mission of a liberal education.

We also observed something that Kronman does not:

Liberal democracies also rename.

Yale has renamed buildings and sites throughout its history to advance its mission.

There are dozens of renaming examples on this campus.

We listed them in our report.

My favorite example from higher education is Columbia University, which was King’s College until Independence made the name inconsistent with the values of the new republic.

Renaming King’s College was no act of dangerous erasure. Just look at the crowns on Columbia’s shield.

Our committee insisted that any honorable renaming would leave salient reminders of the foregone name.

A stone mask of John Calhoun remains in what is now the Grace Hopper College courtyard.

Calhoun’s name appears on arches in two undergraduate colleges.

A statue of the man stands on Harkness Tower.

Totalitarian erasure?


Kronman charges that the committee engaged in an illegitimate reverse-engineering of principles to rename Calhoun while preserving the remaining colleges.

I understand why he levels such a charge.

When our committee was formed, many critics said that changing Calhoun would force more name changes.

Eight other residential colleges are named after slave-owners.

Critics said we would have to rename Yale itself, since Elihu Yale was involved in the slave trade.

Three years later there has been no domino effect.

The critics were wrong.

To avoid embarrassment, Kronman develops a conspiracy theory.

He says that our committee produced an outcome-oriented set of rules designed for one name.

We thereby “damaged the honor and prestige” of the rule of law, he says.

Kronman is wrong to adopt such an uncharitable interpretation of his colleagues’ motives.

Here’s an easier explanation:

Calhoun was different.

Kronman overlooks the common law method he taught me as a student.

Judges derive rules from concrete cases and controversies.

Discrete controversies focus attention on the real-world significance of rules.

Philosophers, too, resolve ethical puzzles by putting cases in conversation with abstract principles.

Our committee adopted these methods to evaluate the general problem of renamings in the context of Yale’s particular controversy.

Kronman does the same when he teaches contracts to first-year law students.

Closer attention to the report would have revealed that the value we articulated as the University’s mission was no intellectual failure.

Kronman says that Yale’s mission statement is made up of platitudes.

Set aside whether he is right or wrong.

Our report could not have been clearer.

We interpreted the mission as embodying “the values of discovering and disseminating knowledge that are at the center of the University.”

Kronman’s analysis makes more than one error.

He asserts that the committee determined that Calhoun’s sole principal legacy was white supremacy.

For nearly 10 pages, Kronman argues that Calhoun’s legacy is not white supremacy, but a debate about white supremacy.
Yet Kronman’s account rests on an oversight.

Nothing in the report requires identifying one legacy.

Kronman ungraciously asserts that historians’ training added no value to the committee’s inquiry.

(We had five historians in the group.)

But he is wrong.

No good historian would assert that complex historical figures have a single legacy.

And we did not.

Legacies are complex and multiple.

“We ask about a namesake’s principal legacies,” we wrote, emphasis on “principal legacies”, “because human lives, as Walt Whitman wrote, are large; they contain multitudes.”

Kronman charges us with “swaggering confidence” in our own moral judgments.

We made no such mistake.

Our analysis turned on the opposite.

This last confusion is connected to an indefensible error in Kronman’s argument against renaming.

Kronman readily agrees that some names would be unacceptable.

Hitler and Stalin would have to come off buildings, but he says “less egregious” cases like Calhoun are different.

Renaming Calhoun, he writes, “may feel good,” but “does little to boost a real spirit of moral solidarity, which is better strengthened by facing the past.”

Kronman concedes that such solidarity comes at an apparent cost for students of color.

Honoring the leading white supremacist of the age of slavery might be “a source of discomfort, even of pain” to students.

But he insists that there is only one morally worthwhile response to that pain. 

“What serious young person,” Kronman asks, “would not want to wear” the pain of living in Calhoun College as a “badge of pride”?

But this is preposterous.

What kind of solidarity is achieved at the expense of a historically subordinated subset of the community?

Not a single black student matriculated at Yale College for a decade after Calhoun College opened. 

Yet if we believe Kronman, every “serious” student of color on the Yale campus, at least any “serious” African-American student, ought to have supported the Calhoun name.

Those who advocated a name change were apparently not serious people.

And what of the white Calhoun students?

Should they have seized their badges of honor too?

Kronman’s amateur psychology is breathtakingly disrespectful.

Serious students and faculty stood on both sides of the issue.

Does Kronman really think that students have been deprived of opportunities to find discrimination in our world?

Should the mathematics major who is descended from enslaved American ancestors need to register their Calhoun affiliation before taking a “Real Analysis” exam?

Does Kronman think that the symbols of slavery on campus don’t offer opportunities to reflect on our history?

Does he think that persistent racial wealth gaps don’t provide ample opportunity to discuss moral complexities?

I talk to students every day and I can assure Kronman that these conversations are happening in full, with the mix of righteous moral principle, youthful confusion and intellectual energy characteristic of the best undergraduate discussion.
Ultimately, it is Kronman who swaggers through the debate about American slavery.

He tells us that Stalin and Hitler are different from Calhoun.

But that only goes so far. 

Historians have argued for decades about how to compare the experience of enslaved persons in the Americas to the Holocaust or to the Soviet purges.

A number of morally serious positions exist.

Is a university unreasonable to conclude that John Calhoun played a singular role in the distinctive and decentralized form of mass exploitation that was New World slavery?

Is it so patently a failure of the University’s obligations of moral stewardship to remove the most startling manifestation of the honor still afforded to slave-owners on our campus?

We drew careful distinctions among the many symbols connected to slavery all around us.

Yet Kronman insists that the sky is falling.

Calhoun College offered a small number of teachers, myself included, a highly salient opportunity in classroom discussions of slavery. In this sense, the name alteration represents a loss:

a small one in light of the symbols that remain, but a loss.

More often, however, the name Calhoun was a campus shorthand, a Yale ID sticker, an intramural sports cheer, and an identity to be defended against cross-campus rivals.

And for many, the name stood for the ways in which Yale still accorded honor to even the most fervent architect of white supremacy. 

I sympathize with at least one dimension of Kronman’s book. 

Learning is difficult.

Knowledge is hard won.

Pleasing students as consumers is at odds with what universities should be.

Our committee aimed to carry the best traditions of scholarship and teaching forward into the era of a deeper talent pool.

Our report garnered favorable reactions from observers who disagreed on much else.

Leading universities have followed our lead.

The saddest fact about Kronman’s book is that his attacks make it harder to defend and celebrate the most worthy features of the University.

He associates excellence with a dogged defense of white supremacy’s most glaring symbols.

Americans know all about admissions scandals and donor influence.

Now we should think that embracing the amazing students of today’s more dynamic campus is an obstacle to excellence?

Come on.

Don’t believe it for a minute.

Would You Like To Know More?

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #20 on: September 05, 2019, 07:57:40 am »
The 1619 Project

‘Extermination and enslavement’: The twin horrors of the American dawn
by Walter Johnson

At the bottom of it all, I would like for children to be taught that the modern United States was built on Indian land by African labor.

No mills without plantations; no railroads without reservations.

After all the quantification and qualification, those two basic historical facts remain at the foundation:

extermination and enslavement.

That might seem harsh, but history is harsh — though not so harsh, perhaps, that we should abandon hope of changing it.

The lessons I want my children to learn about the history of slavery and the Civil War are those I have learned from W.E.B. Du Bois’s “Black Reconstruction in America.”

Though he does not dwell on it, Du Bois begins with the idea that the Cotton Kingdom was built on land that had been stolen from the indigenous nations of the Southeast.

He goes on to describe slavery as an integral aspect of the global capitalist economy of the 19th century:

“The giant forces of water and of steam were harnessed to do the world’s work, and the black workers of America bent at the bottom of a growing pyramid of commerce and industry.”

Our world was built by slaves.

For Du Bois, slavery was neither a system of simple class exploitation nor of immutable racism.

It was a hybrid of capitalism and white supremacy:

something new that began with the era of the slave trade and persisted to the present.

In his 1920 essay, “The Souls of White Folk,” Du Bois suggested how the histories of capitalism and racism had been intertwined without ever being fully reducible to one another:

“Ever have men striven to conceive of their victims as different from the victors, endlessly different, in soul and blood, strength and cunning, race and lineage.”

Exploitation, too, was “quite as old as the world.”

But their combination in the slave trade was something new, something unprecedented, something world-making.

“The imperial width of the thing — its heaven-defying audacity — marks its modern new-ness,” he wrote of the forms of capitalism and racism that emerged out of the slave trade.

The racism of the present is a product of greed and arrogance.

The white working class of the new economy — the shipwrights, sailors and stevedores, and millhands — had, in Du Bois’s understanding, a choice.

They could make common cause with those who toiled and died on the underside of empire — the natives, the slaves, the emerging dark proletariat of the global south — or they could align themselves with their bosses and with whiteness.

“Subtly had they been bribed, but effectively. Were they not lordly whites, and should they not share in the spoils and rape?”

There was a different way.

In this telling, the Civil War provided whites with a sort of second chance.

Rather than a “Lost Cause,” Du Bois viewed the history of the South and the war as a sadly missed opportunity.

The leaders of the Confederacy, the men over whose monuments we fight today, were in his view “men of great physical but little moral courage,” a formulation I wish my own father had been able to provide me as a way to understand my own Confederate ancestors.

You can imagine a world different from that of your elders.

For Du Bois, the decisive event of the war was the “General Strike” of 4 million enslaved people — who slowed down and struck out for the North, undermining Southern civilization at its foundation.

Along with the withdrawal of labor from the Confederacy, the enrollment of 200,000 black soldiers provided the Union Army a decisive advantage (on this point, Du Bois quoted no less an authority than Abraham Lincoln).

American history is full of humble unsung heroes who have pointed the way to a better world.

And the decisive role of African American people in their own liberation provided the white working class with a world-historical opportunity:

the chance to join with black workers in a struggle against the barons of land and labor who controlled and exploited them both.

The history of the South and the United States descends from that missed opportunity:

from the triumph of caste — Du Bois termed it the “wages of whiteness” — over the beckoning possibility of a broader emancipation.

“The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again to slavery.”

We must reject privileges, shortcuts and entitlements in favor of a commitment to humility, justice and generosity.

The world was made this way; it might have been another way; indeed, it might still be.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2019, 08:20:51 am »
The 1619 Project

Enslaved people toiled on plantations.

They also built America’s cities.
by Leslie M. Harris

In the United States, our understanding of slavery is overly focused on the plantation cultures of the 19th-century South.
Representations of slavery, enslaved people and slave owners from the time period when “cotton was king” in the 30 to 40 years preceding the Civil War have dominated the written history of U.S. slavery and preoccupied the imagination of cultural producers in the post-Civil War era.

It is true that the vast majority of the 4 million people enslaved on the eve of the Civil War worked on cotton plantations and other rural locations.

Emphasis on this obscures another significant reality of slavery in North America:

Enslaved labor was also critical to urban areas and had been since the first enslaved people of African descent arrived on the continent.

Before the Revolutionary War, enslaved African labor was critical to the construction and survival of cities from Boston to New Orleans.

Even in Georgia, the only colony founded to be free from slavery, Europeans used enslaved labor to build Savannah, the colony’s first port.

By 1750, Georgia had repealed its official ban on slavery. and the Savannah port built by slaves became a hub in the Atlantic slave trade.

New York and Rhode Island vied to be the capital of the North American slave trade; by the early 18th century, Newport and Providence, R.I., had outdone New York as the main North American suppliers of slaves to the Southern colonies and the Caribbean.

And in all urban and rural settlements, enslaved people provided labor beyond agriculture.

Enslaved men joined European armies in providing military aid, worked the docks loading and unloading ships, and learned skilled labor alongside European family members and indentured servants, ranging from blacksmithing to carpentry to tailoring and beyond.

Enslaved women and children provided domestic labor and marketed home-produced goods.

As slavery gradually ended in Northern cities after the Revolutionary War, newly free black men and women were most often excluded from the jobs they held as slaves.

But in the South, whites continued to employ enslaved (and free) black people in a wide range of urban jobs.

Because of the cultural and economic capital slavery brought, whites in the antebellum South aspired to own slaves; they didn’t want to do their labor.

As a result, enslaved people could be found in every part of the urban economy.

Enslaved men of African descent occupied skilled jobs in Southern cities in greater numbers than free black men did in the North.

Enslaved black women worked as domestics, seamstresses and cooks for enslavers.

Southern cities also served as centers for trading in enslaved people and slave-produced goods.

Southern ports along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coast made money shipping slaves throughout the South and slave-produced goods to the Northern states and Europe.

New Orleans vied with New York for the position of leading port in the nation in the 19th century.

Smaller inland cities such as St. Louis, Memphis, Natchez, Miss., and others served a similar process for overland trade.

Many cities large and small served as governmental and judicial centers in which whites established and adjudicated the laws of slavery.

Why is it important to recognize that urban areas contained slavery, too?

One reason is to understand the expansiveness and possibilities of this system of labor, which is as old as human history.

Even more important, however, is the necessity to realize that people of African descent were capable of working at any form of labor.

For the first century after the end of slavery, the majority of white society worked assiduously to prevent blacks from moving beyond a limited range of jobs.

Part of that work was to present stereotypes of blacks as innately unfit for urban life and urban jobs.

Whites used such stereotypes to exclude blacks from the full range of employment, housing and education opportunities.

At worst, black people in urban areas were subject to racial terrorism through mob violence and their presence was criminalized through over-policing.

As we move through the second century after emancipation, we still struggle with the meaning of black labor and black people in urban areas.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #22 on: September 07, 2019, 03:44:56 am »
The 1619 Project

The other slavery: Native Americans also faced a vast and degrading system of bondage
by Andrés Reséndez

The very word “slavery” brings to mind African men, women and children stuffed in the hold of a ship or white-aproned maids bustling in an antebellum home.

History books and movies reinforce the notion that slaves were black Africans imported into the New World.

Yet Native Americans were subjected to a parallel system of bondage that, like the enslavement of Africans, was terrible, degrading and vast — and most Americans today are not aware of it or don’t learn about it at school.

Between 2.5 million and 5 million Native Americans were enslaved throughout the Western Hemisphere in the centuries between the arrival of Columbus and the late 19th century, when the system declined markedly (but did not disappear entirely).

In contrast to the enslavement of Africans, which included a large percentage of adult males, the majority of enslaved Native Americans were women and children.

In Colonial times, the Carolinas were a major Indian slaving ground.

New Englanders captured rebellious Indians and shipped them to work on plantations in the Caribbean.

And French colonists in eastern Canada took thousands of Indians captive from the interior around the Great Lakes region.

During the 18th and early 19th centuries, however, the traffic of Native Americans on the Eastern Seaboard was replaced and overshadowed almost entirely by Africans.

Not surprisingly, Americans living east of the Mississippi River lost awareness of earlier forms of Native American bondage.

When they spoke or wrote about slavery in the 19th century, they invariably meant African slavery.

Yet Indian slavery continued to thrive in the West and even expanded during the tumultuous 19th century.

The best evidence comes from letters and diaries of westbound Americans.

California may have entered the United States as a “free-soil” state, but American settlers soon discovered that the buying and selling of Indians had long been a common occurrence in the Golden State.

As early as 1846, the first American commander of San Francisco acknowledged that “certain persons have been and still are imprisoning and holding to service Indians against their will” and warned that “the Indian population must not be regarded in the light of slaves.”

James S. Calhoun had never set foot in New Mexico until he was appointed Indian agent in Santa Fe in April 1849.

Calhoun had grown up in the South and did not expect to find slavery in New Mexico.

As Indian agent, however, he became amazed by the segmentation of the Indian slave market.

“The value of the captives depends upon age, sex, beauty, and usefulness,” Calhoun wrote, “good looking females, not having passed the ‘sear and yellow leaf’ are valued from $50 to $150 each; males, as they may be useful, one-half less, never more.”

The Spanish Crown forbade Indian slavery as early as 1542, the Mexican republic granted citizenship rights to all Natives born within the country in the 1820s, and the U.S. Congress passed the 13th Amendment prohibiting both “slavery” and “involuntary servitude,” a formulation that opened the possibility of liberation of all Native Americans held in bondage.

Yet Indian slavery persisted.

One of the most striking aspects of this other slavery is that, because it had no legal basis, it was extremely difficult to extinguish.

Forms of Indian slavery continued in the United States and elsewhere in the hemisphere through the end of the 19th century and in remote areas, even later.

Disguised as debt peonage or penal service, this other slavery — invisible and often posing as legal work — is the direct forerunner of the types of slavery practiced today.

According to the latest estimate of the Walk Free Foundation, an international human rights organization based in Australia, 40 million people in 167 countries live in some form of “modern-day” slavery.

It is forbidden all over the world, yet not a single region of our globe has been spared from this scourge.

Slavery continues to thrive because its beneficiaries resort to legal subterfuge to compel people to work, under the threat of violence, and offering absurdly low or no compensation.

The 400-year experience of Native Americans with this other slavery makes clear there is nothing new about this.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #23 on: September 07, 2019, 03:51:58 pm »
NBC Nightly News --- Lester Holt becomes an inmate inside America's Largest Maximum Prison

Slavery never ended.

Slavery was merely extended.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #24 on: September 08, 2019, 09:04:38 pm »
The 1619 Project

The Story of Abaco: The most successful slave revolt in United States history.

by Michael Harriot

Today I learned the interesting story of Abaco, the island in the Bahamas hit hardest by hurricane Dorian.

After the Revolutionary War, many of the white people who were loyal to Britain moved to the Bahamas, which was largely empty.

A lot of those people brought their enslaved Africans with them.

But harsh conditions made many of the white people leave.

Then, in 1807, Britain abolished the slave trade.

Many of those freed Africans who were liberated on the open seas went to the Bahamas as free people.

When the US basically bought Florida from Spain, thousands of enslaved Africans and Black Seminoles said “f*ck this” and escaped to the Bahamas.

So many ran to freedom that the US government had to build a lighthouse in Cape Florida in 1825.

In 1834, Britain freed all the slaves in its territories and sh*t really got crazy.

See, the Bahamas were a regular stop in the Atlantic.

Plus, shipwrecked US vessels also ended up there.

For years, when ships would pull up in the Bahamas (I think that’s the nautical term). 

Bahamians would tell the captains:

“Umm, I don’t know if you heard but we don’t play that slave sh*t over here. Y’all can ride out but you gotta leave the Africans here. They’re free now."

“Now we can handle this like gentlemen, or we can get into some Gangsta sh*t.”

Well this was a problem because slavery was legal in the US.   

Despite what history whitewashers would have you believe about that freedom and liberty bullsh*t, we were one of the last countries in North America to abolish the practice

So word started getting around plantations about the Bahamas.

Then, in 1840, the Hermosa, a US slave ship headed from Richmond going to New Orleans, wrecked in Abaco.

Well, the Captain tried to explain that slavery was legal in the US, so technically these enslaved people were cargo. But the Bahamians wasn’t having that sh*t.

They FORCIBLY FREED the entire ship and was like:

“Now runtelldat.”

Of course, these dumb white folks actually ran and told that.

The US government got involved but something else happened.

Enslaved Africans on plantations started hearing about that sh*t, too!

(Yes, sh*t’s about to get good)

This is the part of our history that is rarely told:

In 1840, a black man named Madison Washington escaped slavery and made it to Canada.

But Madison decided to return for his wife.

(Of course he got caught) he was taken to Va, put on a ship and shipped to La.

So Madison was on this slave ship, the Creole, with 143 Africans and 17 white people who had ONE GUN!


Y’all know sh*t was about to pop off.

As soon as one of the crewmen lifted the grate to where they were holding Madison and his crew, they pounced.

They killed one of the slave traders immediately (you gotta show muhf*ckas you mean business).

The wypipo didn’t even get a chance to fire their lil’ gun

First they tried to force the Creole’s captain to take them back to Africa, but the captain was like:

“Y’all got some Africa gas money?”

Plus, without Google Maps, they’d probably have to print out directions from Mapquest and the ship’s printer was out of ink or something

Then one of the revolters said:

“Aye Madison, did you hear that story about the Hermosa in the Bahamas? Maybe we should see what they’re talking about.”

*Not a literal translation

So Madison and the slave rebellers get to the Bahamas and a bunch of black soldiers come on board.

The captain tells the soldiers that the people were his property but the Bahamians attorney general was like:

“y’all can go. You’re free now."

And the enslaved Africans were like:

“Go where? Man, we’re a thousand miles from home! We’re on the goddamned ocean! Aside from what’s on this ship, we ain’t even got no food.”

And the Bahamian attorney general was like:

“Y’all straight. Just go look outside.”

So they go above deck and look out on the ocean and witness something astonishing:

The slave ship was surrounded by a “fleet” of tiny little boats manned by local Bahamians ready to take the revolters to freedom.

They would be free forever.

But the Bahamians atty. gen. held 17 of the men responsible for the white dude’s death on the boat.

It became an international incident.

The US even tried to organize an attack to REENSLAVE THE SLAVES, but a Bahamian was looking out and warned them that white people were coming.

When the people in the US heard about the revolt, they were OUTRAGED.

They demanded a trial.

The British agreed.

But the Bahamians were like:

“Well we don’t have an extradition treaty with those filthy slave traders, so the trial will have to be in the Bahamas."

Now they couldn’t be tried for murder because the British had already ruled that enslaved people could do whatever they deemed necessary to get free.

So the Bahamians tried the Creole 17 for piracy.

The court ruled, in essence, this:

“How you gon’ charge them with pirating their own bodies? GTFOHWTBS Cased dismissed!”

*again, not a literal translation

Less than a year later, the Creole would sail no more after it wrecked again...

In a hurricane.

All told, 128 enslaved Africans aboard the Creole were freed

They will teach you about slave revolts by Denmark Vessey, Nat Turner and John Brown.

But this is the story of Abaco, The Bahamas and what is called:

The most successful slave revolt in US history.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #25 on: September 10, 2019, 07:10:50 am »
The 1619 Project

There is no mention of slavery in the final Declaration of Independence.

Similarly, 11 years later, when it came time to draft the Constitution, the framers carefully constructed a document that preserved and protected slavery without ever using the word.

In the texts in which they were making the case for freedom to the world, they did not want to explicitly enshrine their hypocrisy, so they sought to hide it.

The Constitution contains 84 clauses.

Six deal directly with the enslaved and their enslavement, as the historian David Wald streicher has written, and five more hold implications for slavery.

The Constitution protected the ‘‘property’’ of those who enslaved black people, prohibited the federal government from intervening to end the importation of enslaved Africans for a term of 20 years, allowed Congress to mobilize the militia to put down insurrections by the enslaved and forced states that had outlawed slavery to turn over enslaved people who had run away seeking refuge.

Like many others, the writer and abolitionist Samuel Byron called out the deceit, saying of the Constitution,

‘‘The words are dark and ambiguous; such as no plain man of common sense would have used, [and] are evidently chosen to conceal from Europe, that in this enlightened country, the practice of slavery has its advocates among men in the highest stations.’’

With independence, the founding fathers could no longer blame slavery on Britain.

The sin became this nation’s own, and so, too, the need to cleanse it.

The shameful paradox of continuing chattel slavery in a nation founded on individual freedom, scholars today assert, led to a hardening of the racial caste system.

This ideology, reinforced not just by laws but by racist science and literature, maintained that black people were subhuman, a belief that allowed white Americans to live with their betrayal.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #26 on: September 19, 2019, 12:50:19 pm »
The 1619 Project

By the early 1800s, according to the legal historians Leland B. Ware, Robert J. Cottrol and Raymond T. Diamond, white Americans, whether they engaged in slavery or not, ‘‘had a considerable psychological as well as economic investment in the doctrine of black inferiority.’’

While liberty was the inalienable right of the people who would be considered white, enslavement and subjugation became the natural station of people who had any discernible drop of ‘‘black’’ blood.

The Supreme Court enshrined this thinking in the law in its 1857 Dred Scott decision, ruling that black people, whether enslaved or free, came from a ‘‘slave’’ race.

This made them inferior to white people and, therefore, incompatible with American democracy.

Democracy was for citizens, and the ‘‘Negro race,’’ the court ruled, was ‘‘a separate class of persons,’’ which the founders had ‘‘not regarded as a portion of the people or citizens of the Government’’ and had ‘‘no rights which a white man was bound to respect.’’

This belief, that black people were not merely enslaved but were a slave race, became the root of the endemic racism that we still cannot purge from this nation to this day.

If black people could not ever be citizens, if they were a caste apart from all other humans, then they did not require the rights bestowed by the Constitution, and the ‘‘we’’ in the ‘‘We the People’’ was not a lie.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #27 on: September 24, 2019, 04:41:30 am »
The 1619 Project

On Aug. 14, 1862, a mere five years after the nation’s highest courts declared that no black person could be an American citizen, President Abraham Lincoln called a group of five esteemed free black men to the White House for a meeting.

It was one of the few times that black people had ever been invited to the Executive Mansion as guests.

The Civil War had been raging for more than a year, and black abolitionists, who had been increasingly pressuring Lincoln to end slavery, must have felt a sense of great anticipation and pride.

The war was not going well for Lincoln.

Britain was contemplating whether to intervene on the Confederacy’s behalf, and Lincoln, unable to draw enough new white volunteers for the war, was forced to reconsider his opposition to allowing black Americans to fight for their own liberation.

The president was weighing a proclamation that threatened to emancipate all enslaved people in the states that had seceded from the Union if the states did not end the rebellion.

The proclamation would also allow the formerly enslaved to join the Union army and fight against their former ‘‘masters.’’

But Lincoln worried about what the consequences of this radical step would be.
Like many white Americans, he opposed slavery as a cruel system at odds with American ideals, but he also opposed black equality.

He believed that free black people were a ‘‘troublesome presence’’ incompatible with a democracy intended only for white people.

‘‘Free them, and make them politically and socially our equals?’’ he had said four years earlier.

‘‘My own feelings will not admit of this; and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not.’’

That August day, as the men arrived at the Executive Mansion, they were greeted by the towering Lincoln and a man named James Mitchell, who eight days before had been given the title of a newly created position called the commissioner of emigration.

This was to be his first assignment.

After exchanging a few niceties, Lincoln got right to it.

He informed his guests that he had gotten Congress to appropriate funds to ship black people, once freed, to another country.

‘‘Why should they leave this country? This is, perhaps, the first question for proper consideration,’’ Lincoln told them.

‘‘You and we are different races. . . . Your race suffer very greatly, many of them, by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side.’’

You can imagine the heavy silence in that room, as the weight of what the president said momentarily stole the breath of these five black men.

It was 243 years to the month since the first of their ancestors had arrived on these shores, before Lincoln’s family, long before most of the white people insisting that this was not their country.

The Union had not entered the war to end slavery but to keep the South from splitting off , yet black men had signed up to fight.

Enslaved people were fleeing their forced-labor camps, which we like to call plantations, trying to join the effort, serving as spies, sabotaging confederates, taking up arms for his cause as well as their own.

And now Lincoln was blaming them for the war.

‘‘Although many men engaged on either side do not care for you one way or the other . . . without the institution of slavery and the colored race as a basis, the war could not have an existence,’’ the president told them.

‘‘It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated.’’
As Lincoln closed the remarks, Edward Thomas, the delegation’s chairman, informed the president, perhaps curtly, that they would consult on his proposition.

‘‘Take your full time,’’ Lincoln said.

‘‘No hurry at all.’’

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #28 on: September 24, 2019, 06:10:29 am »
The 1619 Project

Nearly three years after that Executive Mansion meeting, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

By summer, the Civil War was over, and four million black Americans were suddenly free.

Contrary to Lincoln's view, most were not inclined to leave, agreeing with the sentiment of a resolution against black colonization put forward at a convention of black leaders in New York some decades before:

"This is our home, and this our country. Beneath its sod lie the bones of our fathers. . . . Here we were born, and here we will die."

That the formerly enslaved did not take up Lincoln's offer to abandon these lands is an astounding testament to their belief in this nation's founding ideals.

As W.E.B. Du Bois wrote,

"Few men ever worshiped Freedom with half such unquestioning faith as did the American Negro for two centuries."

Black Americans had long called for universal equality and believed, as the abolitionist Martin Delany said,

"that God has made of one blood all the nations that dwell on the face of the earth."
Liberated by war, then, they did not seek vengeance on their oppressors as Lincoln and so many other white Americans feared.

They did the opposite.

During this nation's brief period of Reconstruction, from 1865 to 1877, formerly enslaved people zealously engaged with the democratic process.

With federal troops tempering widespread white violence, black Southerners started branches of the Equal Rights League - is one of the nation's first human rights organizations - to fight discrimination and organize voters; they headed in droves to the polls, where they placed other formerly enslaved people into seats that their enslavers had once held.

The South, for the first time in the history of this country, began to resemble a democracy, with black Americans elected to local, state and federal offices.

Some 16 black men served in Congress - including Hiram Revels of Mississippi, who became the first black man elected to the Senate.

(Demonstrating just how brief this period would be, Revels, along with Blanche Bruce, would go from being the first black man elected to the last for nearly a hundred years, until Edward Brooke of Massachusetts took office in 1967.)

More than 600 black men served in Southern state legislatures and hundreds more in local positions.

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Re: The 1619 Project
« Reply #29 on: September 26, 2019, 06:37:20 pm »
The 1619 Project

These black officials joined with white Republicans, some of whom came down from the North, to write the most egalitarian state constitutions the South had ever seen.

They helped pass more equitable tax legislation and laws that prohibited discrimination in public transportation, accommodation and housing.

Perhaps their biggest achievement was the establishment of that most democratic of American institutions:

the public school.

Public education effectively did not exist in the South before Reconstruction.

The white elite sent their children to private schools, while poor white children went without an education.

But newly freed black people, who had been prohibited from learning to read and write during slavery, were desperate for an education.

So black legislators successfully pushed for a universal, state- funded system of schools — not just for their own children but for white children, too.

Black legislators also helped pass the first compulsory education laws in the region.

Southern children, black and white, were now required to attend schools like their Northern counterparts.

Just five years into Reconstruction, every Southern state had enshrined the right to a public education for all children into its constitution.

In some states, like Louisiana and South Carolina, small numbers of black and white children, briefly, attended schools together.