Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Frederick Douglass and Underground Railroad

Frederick Douglass and Underground Railroad No. 1 of 6

Frederick Douglass and Underground Railroad No. 2 of 6

Frederick Douglass and Underground Railroad No. 3 of 6

Frederick Douglass and the Underground Railroad No. 4 of 6

Frederick Douglass and the Underground Railroad No. 5 of 6

Frederick Douglass and the Underground Railroad No. 6 of 6

The Liberator Book Review: Fredrick Douglass


FROM The Liberator, 30 May 1845.

My readers will be delighted to learn that Frederick Douglass—the fugitive slave—has at last concluded his narrative. All who know the wonderful gifts of friend Douglass know that his narrative must, in the nature of things, be written with great power. It is so indeed. It is the most thrilling work which the American press ever issued—and the most important. If it does not open the eyes of this people, they must be petrified into eternal sleep.

The picture it presents of slavery is too horrible to look upon, and yet it is but a faint picture of what to millions is a vivid life. It is evidently drawn with a nice eye, and the coloring is chaste and subdued, rather than extravagant or overwrought. Thrilling as it is, and full of the most burning eloquence, it is yet simple and unimpassioned. Its eloquence is the eloquence of truth, and so is as simple and touching as the impulses of childhood. There are passages in it which would brighten the reputation of any living author,—while the book, as a whole, judged as a mere work of art, would widen the fame of Bunyan or De Foe. A spirit of the loftiest integrity, and a vein of the purest religious sentiment, runs through its pages, and it must leave on every mind a deep conviction of the author's strength of mind and purity of heart. I predict for it a sale of at least twenty thousand in this country, and equally great in Europe. It will leave a mark upon this age which the busy finger of time will deepen at every touch. It will generate a public sentiment in this nation, in the presence of which our pro-slavery laws and constitutions shall be like chaff in the presence of fire. It contains the spark which will kindle up the smouldering embers of freedom in a million souls, and light up our whole continent with the flames of liberty. Great efforts will be made in the name of the Constitution and the Bible, of James Polk and the Apostle Paul, to suppress it: but it will run through this nation from house to house, and from heart to heart, as the wild fire, finding wings in every wind which blows, flies across the tall and boundless prairies. Its stirring incidents will fasten themselves on the eager minds of the youth of this country with hooks of steel. The politics of the land will stand abashed before it, while her more corrupt religion will wish to sink back into the hot womb which gave it birth. It will fall in among the churches and state-houses of the land like a bomb-shell, and those who madly undertake to pick it to pieces will share the fate of that poor New-Yorker who attempted something of the kind on a bomb-shell picked up on the shores of Jersey, i. e., they will be blowed to atoms at the first blow.

—Lynn Pioneer

Frederick Douglass, 1818-1895

Frederick Douglass, 1818-1895

Our house stood within a few rods of the Chesapeake Bay, whose broad bosom was ever white with sails from every quarter of the habitable globe. Those beautiful vessels, robed in purest white, so delightful to the eye of freemen, were to me so many shrouded ghosts, to terrify and torment me with thoughts of my wretched condition. I have often, in the deep stillness of a summer's Sabbath, stood all alone upon the lofty banks of that noble bay, and traced, with saddened heart and tearful eye, the countless number of sails moving off to the mighty ocean. The sight of these always affected me powerfully. My thoughts would compel utterance; and there, with no audience but the Almighty, I would pour out my soul's complaint, in my rude way, with an apostrophe to the moving multitude of ships:--

"You are loosed from your moorings, and are free; I am fast in my chains, and am a slave! You move merrily before the gentle gale, and I sadly before the bloody whip! You are freedom's swift-winged angels, that fly round the world; I am confined in bands of iron! O that I were free! O, that I were on one of your gallant decks, and under your protecting wing! Alas! betwixt me and you, the turbid waters roll. Go on, go on. O that I could also go! Could I but swim! If I could fly! O, why was I born a man, of whom to make a brute. The glad ship is gone; she hides in the dim distance. I am left in the hottest hell of unending slavery. O God, save me! God, deliver me!
Page 65

Let me be free! Is there any God? Why am I a slave? I will run away. I will not stand it. Get caught, or get clear, I'll try it. I had as well die with ague as the fever. I have only one life to lose. I had as well be killed running as die standing. Only think of it; one hundred miles straight north, and I am free! Try it? Yes! God helping me, I will. It cannot be that I shall live and die a slave. I will take to the water. This very bay shall yet bear me into freedom. The steamboats steered in a north-east course from North Point. I will do the same; and when I get to the head of the bay, I will turn my canoe adrift, and walk straight through Delaware into Pennsylvania. When I get there, I shall not be required to have a pass; I can travel without being disturbed. Let but the first opportunity offer, and, come what will, I am off. Meanwhile, I will try to bear up under the yoke. I am not the only slave in the world. Why should I fret? I can bear as much as any of them. Besides, I am but a boy, and all boys are bound to some one. It may be that my misery in slavery will only increase my happiness when I get free. There is a better day coming."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

COINTELPRO: FBI's War On Black America

COINTELPRO is an acronym for a series of FBI counterintelligence programs designed to neutralize political dissidents. Although covert operations have been employed throughout FBI history, the formal COINTELPRO's of 1956-1971 were broadly targeted against radical political organizations. In the early 1950s, the Communist Party was illegal in the United States. The Senate and House of Representatives each set up investigating committees to prosecute communists and publicly expose them. (The House Committee on Un-American Activities and the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, led by Senator Joseph McCarthy). When a series of Supreme Court rulings in 1956 and 1957 challenged these committees and questioned the constitutionality of Smith Act prosecutions and Subversive Activities Control Board hearings, the FBI's response was COINTELPRO, a program designed to "neutralize" those who could no longer be prosecuted. Over the years, similar programs were created to neutralize civil rights, anti-war, and many other groups, many of which were said to be "communist front organizations." As J. Edgar Hoover, longtime Director of the FBI, put it

The forces which are most anxious to weaken our internal security are not always easy to identify. Communists have been trained in deceit and secretly work toward the day when they hope to replace our American way of life with a Communist dictatorship. They utilize cleverly camouflaged movements, such as peace groups and civil rights groups to achieve their sinister purposes. While they as individuals are difficult to identify, the Communist party line is clear. Its first concern is the advancement of Soviet Russia and the godless Communist cause. It is important to learn to know the enemies of the American way of life.

The FBI conducted more than 2000 COINTELPRO operations before the the programs were officially discontinued in April of 1971, after public exposure, in order to "afford additional security to [their] sensitive techniques and operations." Click here for more information.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Civil Rights v. Civil War

The parallels between the civil rights movement of the 1960's and the events and issues of the Civil War has forced historians to revise the history of reconstruction, placing a new emphasis on race and slavery as the main cause of The Civil War. Dean Lawrence R. Velvel interviews James McPherson, Pulitzer and Pritzker prize winning author, noted Civil War Historian and Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University , about his new book, This Mighty Scourge- Perspectives on the Civil War, on this episode of The Massachusetts School of Law's Books of our Time.

Civil War - James. M. McPherson - This Mighty Scourge, Perspectives on the Civil War, part 1

Meet The Press with NAACP Roy Wilkiins and Martin Luther KIng, Jr.

March on Washington

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

Martin Luther King "I have a dream"

Malcolm X's Response to the March On Washington

Malcolm X on Negro Leaders and March on Washington (pt 1/2)

Malcolm X on Negro Leaders and March on Washington (pt 2/2)

Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael)

Kwame Ture the man formerly known as Stokely Carmichael represents one of the most energetic voices from the Civil Rights/Black Power Movement. As we discover the history of 400 years of enslavement and the 100 years of subjugation following emancipation, certain voices like Kwame Ture from the struggle for black freedom emerge. These people were the generals in the freedom struggle. It wasn't easy. I thank them for their earnestness in times of cynicism.

Here is a Kwame Ture interview from 1996, what a treasure.

Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) 1996 Interview part 1 of 5

Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) 1996 Interview part 2 of 5

Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) 1996 Interview part 3 of 5

Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) 1996 Interview part 4 of 5

Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) 1996 Interview part 5 of 5

Dr. Kenneth Clark Interviews James Baldwin

James Baldwin Interview (1 of 3)

Dr. Kenneth Clark: Through a strange set of circumstances, we managed to record this conversation with James Baldwin immediately after both of us attended that now-famous meeting between a group of Mr. Baldwin's friends and Attorney General Robert Kennedy. I believe much of the emotion of that historic occasion spilled over into our conversation. In an attempt to ease the tension, I started by asking him to dig back and tell us something about his childhood and his growing up.

James Baldwin: My mind is someplace else, really. But to think back on it -- I was born in Harlem, Harlem Hospital, and we grew up -- first house I remember was on Park Avenue -- which is not the American Park Avenue, or maybe it is the American Park Avenue --

Clark: Uptown Park Avenue?

Baldwin: Uptown Park Avenue, where the railroad tracks are. We used to play on the roof and in the -- I can't call it an alley -- but near the river -- it was a kind of dump, garbage dump. Those were the first scenes I remember. I remember my father had trouble keeping us alive -- there were nine of us. I was the oldest so I took care of the kids and dealt with Daddy. I understand him much better now. Part of his problem was he couldn't feed his kids, but I was a kid and I didn't know that. He was very religious, very rigid. He kept us together, I must say, and when I look back on it -- that was over 40 years ago that I was born -- when I think back on my growing up and walk that same block today, because it's still there, and think of the kids on that block now, I'm aware that something terrible has happened which is very hard to describe.

I am, in all but technical legal fact, a Southerner. My father was born in the South -- no, my mother was born in the South, and if they had waited two more seconds I might have been born in the South. But that means I was raised by families whose roots were essentially rural --

Clark: Southern rural...

Baldwin: Southern rural, and whose relation to the church was very direct, because it was the only means they had of expressing their pain and their despair. But 20 years later the moral authority which was present in the Negro Northern community when I was growing up has vanished, and people talk about progress, and I look at Harlem which I really know -- I know it like I know my hand -- and it is much worse there today than it was when I was growing up.

Clark: Would you say this is true of the schools too?

Baldwin: It is much worse in the schools.

Clark: What school did you go to?

Baldwin: I went to P.S. 24 and I went to P.S. 139. Frederick Douglass...

Clark: We are fellow alumni. I went to 139.

Baldwin: I didn't like a lot of my teachers, but I had a couple of teachers who were very nice to me -- one was a Negro teacher. You ask me these questions and I'm trying to answer you. I remember coming home from school -- you can guess how young I must have been -- and my mother asked me if my teacher was colored or white, and I said she was a little bit colored and a little bit white. But she was about your color. As a matter of fact I was right.

That's part of the dilemma of being an American Negro; that one is a little bit colored and a little bit white, and not only in physical terms but in the head and in the heart, and there are days -- this is one of them -- when you wonder what your role is in this country and what your future is in it. How, precisely, are you going to reconcile yourself to your situation here and how you are going to communicate to the vast, heedless, unthinking, cruel, white majority, that you are here? And to be here means that you can't be anywhere else.

I'm terrified at the moral apathy -- the death of the heart which is happening in my country. These people have deluded themselves for so long, that they really don't think I'm human. I base this on their conduct, not on what they say, and this means that they have become, in themselves, moral monsters. It's a terrible indictment -- I mean every word I say.

Clark: Well, we are confronted with the racial confrontation in America today. I think the pictures of dogs in the hands of human beings attacking other human beings --

Baldwin: In a free country -- in the middle of the 20th century.

Clark: In a free country. This Birmingham, clearly not restricted to Birmingham, as you so eloquently pointed out. What do you think can be done to change -- to use your term -- the moral fiber of America?

Baldwin: I think that one has got to find some way of putting the present administration of this country on the spot. One has got to force, somehow, from Washington, a moral commitment, not to the Negro people, but to the life of this country.

It doesn't matter any longer, and I'm speaking for myself, for Jimmy Baldwin, and I think I'm speaking for a great many Negroes too. It doesn't matter any longer what you do to me; you can put me in jail, you can kill me. By the time I was 17, you'd done everything that you could do to me. The problem now is, how are you going to save yourselves?

James Baldwin Interview (2 of 3)

Dr. Kenneth Clark: You mean the attorney general of the United States?

Baldwin: Mr. Robert Kennedy -- didn't know that I would have trouble convincing my nephew to go to Cuba, for example, to liberate the Cubans in defense of a government which now says it is doing everything it can do, which cannot liberate me. Now, there are 20 million people in this country, and you can't put them all in jail. I know how my nephew feels, I know how I feel, I know how the cats in the barbershop feel.

A boy last week, he was sixteen, in San Francisco, told me on television -- thank God we got him to talk -- maybe somebody thought to listen. He said, "I've got no country. I've got no flag." Now, he's only 16 years old, and I couldn't say, "you do." I don't have any evidence to prove that he does. They were tearing down his house, because San Francisco is engaging -- as most Northern cities now are engaged -- in something called urban renewal, which means moving the Negroes out. It means Negro removal, that is what it means. The federal government is an accomplice to this fact.

Now, we are talking about human beings, there's not such a thing as a monlithic wall or some abstraction called the Negro problem, these are Negro boys and girls, who at 16 and 17 don't believe the country means anything that it says and don't feel they have any place here, on the basis of the performance of the entire country.

Clark: But now, Jim --

Baldwin: Am I exaggerating?

James Baldwin Interview (3 of 3)

Clark: What do you see? Are you essentially optimistic or pessimistic, and I really don't want to put words in your mouth, because what I really want to find out is what you really believe.

Baldwin: I'm both glad and sorry you asked me that question, but I'll do my best to answer it. I can't be a pessimist because I'm alive. To be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter, so I'm forced to be an optimist. I'm forced to believe that we can survive whatever we must survive. But the future of the Negro in this country is precisely as bright or as dark as the future of the country. It is entirely up to the American people and our representatives -- it is entirely up to the American people whether or not they are going to face, and deal with, and embrace this stranger whom they maligned so long.

What white people have to do, is try and find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place, because I'm not a nigger, I'm a man, but if you think I'm a nigger, it means you need it.

The question you have got to ask yourself -- the white population of this country has got to ask itself -- North and South, because it's one country, and for a Negro, there's no difference between the North and South. There's just a difference in the way they castrate you. But the fact of the castration is the American fact. If I'm not a nigger here and you invented him, you, the white people, invented him, then you've got to find out why. And the future of the country depends on that. Whether or not it's able to ask that question.

Clark: As a Negro and as an American, I can only hope that America has the strength and the capacity --

Baldwin: And the moral strength.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Copy of a letter from Benjamin Banneker to the secretary of state, Thomas Jefferson


I AM fully sensible of the greatness of that freedom, which I take with you on the present occasion ; a liberty which seemed to me scarcely allowable, when I reflected on that distinguished and dignified station in which you stand, and the almost general prejudice and prepossession, which is so prevalent in the world against those of my complexion. 1.

I suppose it is a truth too well attested to you, to need a proof here, that we are a race of beings, who have long labored under the abuse and censure of the world ; that we have long been looked upon with an eye of contempt ; and that we have long been considered rather as brutish than human, and scarcely capable of mental endowments.2.

Sir, I hope I may safely admit, in consequence of that report which hath reached me, that you are a man far less inflexible in sentiments of this nature, than many others ; that you are measurably friendly, and well disposed towards us ; and that you are willing and ready to lend your aid and assistance to our relief, from those many distresses, and numerous calamities, to which we are reduced. 3.

Now Sir, if this is founded in truth, I apprehend you will embrace every opportunity, to eradicate that train of absurd and false ideas and opinions, which so generally prevails with respect to us ; and that your sentiments are concurrent with mine, which are, that one universal Father hath given being to us all ; and that he hath not only made us all of one flesh, but that he hath also, without partiality, afforded us all the same sensations and endowed us all with the same faculties ; and that however variable we may be in society or religion, however diversified in situation or color, we are all of the same family, and stand in the same relation to him..

Sir, if these are sentiments of which you are fully persuaded, I hope you cannot but acknowledge, that it is the indispensible duty of those, who maintain for themselves the rights of human nature, and who possess the obligations of Christianity, to extend their power and influence to the relief of every part of the human race, from whatever burden or oppression they may unjustly labor under ; and this, I apprehend, a full conviction of the truth and obligation of these principles should lead all to. 4.

Sir, I have long been convinced, that if your love for yourselves, and for those inestimable laws, which preserved to you the rights of human nature, was founded on sincerity, you could not but be solicitous, that every individual, of whatever rank or distinction, might with you equally enjoy the blessings thereof ; neither could you rest satisfied short of the most active effusion of your exertions, in order to their promotion from any state of degradation, to which the unjustifiable cruelty and barbarism of men may have reduced them..

Sir, I freely and cheerfully acknowledge, that I am of the African race, and in that color which is natural to them of the deepest dye ; and it is under a sense of the most profound gratitude to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, that I now confess to you, that I am not under that state of tyrannical thraldom, and inhuman captivity, to which too many of my brethren are doomed, but that I have abundantly tasted of the fruition of those blessings, which proceed from that free and unequalled liberty with which you are favored ; and which, I hope, you will willingly allow you have mercifully received, from the immediate hand of that Being, from whom proceedeth every good and perfect Gift. 5.

Sir, suffer me to recal to your mind that time, in which the arms and tyranny of the British crown were exerted, with every powerful effort, in order to reduce you to a state of servitude : look back, I entreat you, on the variety of dangers to which you were exposed ; reflect on that time, in which every human aid appeared unavailable, and in which even hope and fortitude wore the aspect of inability to the conflict, and you cannot but be led to a serious and grateful sense of your miraculous and providential preservation ; you cannot but acknowledge, that the present freedom and tranquility which you enjoy you have mercifully received, and that it is the peculiar blessing of Heaven.6.

This, Sir, was a time when you cleary saw into the injustice of a state of slavery, and in which you had just apprehensions of the horrors of its condition. It was now that your abhorrence thereof was so excited, that you publicly held forth this true and invaluable doctrine, which is worthy to be recorded and remembered in all succeeding ages : ``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, and that among these are, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'' Here was a time, in which your tender feelings for yourselves had engaged you thus to declare, you were then impressed with proper ideas of the great violation of liberty, and the free possession of those blessings, to which you were entitled by nature ; but, Sir, how pitiable is it to reflect, that although you were so fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father of Mankind, and of his equal and impartial distribution of these rights and privileges, which he hath conferred upon them, that you should at the same time counteract his mercies, in detaining by fraud and violence so numerous a part of my brethren, under groaning captivity and cruel oppression, that you should at the same time be found guilty of that most criminal act, which you professedly detested in others, with respect to yourselves.7.

I suppose that your knowledge of the situation of my brethren, is too extensive to need a recital here ; neither shall I presume to prescribe methods by which they may be relieved, otherwise than by recommending to you and all others, to wean yourselves from those narrow prejudices which you have imbibed with respect to them, and as Job proposed to his friends, ``put your soul in their souls' stead ;'' thus shall your hearts be enlarged with kindness and benevolence towards them; and thus shall you need neither the direction of myself or others, in what manner to proceed herein. And now, Sir, although my sympathy and affection for my brethren hath caused my enlargement thus far, I ardently hope, that your candor and generosity will plead with you in my behalf, when I make known to you, that it was not originally my design ; but having taken up my pen in order to direct to you, as a present, a copy of an Almanac, which I have calculated for the succeeding year, I was unexpectedly and unavoidably led thereto.8.

This calculation is the production of my arduous study, in this my advanced stage of life ; for having long had unbounded desires to become acquainted with the secrets of nature, I have had to gratify my curiosity herein, through my own assiduous application to Astronomical Study, in which I need not recount to you the many difficulties and disadvantages, which I have had to encounter. 9.

And although I had almost declined to make my calculation for the ensuing year, in consequence of that time which I had allotted therefor, being taken up at the Federal Territory, by the request of Mr. Andrew Ellicott, yet finding myself under several engagements to Printers of this state, to whom I had communicated my design, on my return to my place of residence, I industriously applied myself thereto, which I hope I have accomplished with correctness and accuracy ; a copy of which I have taken the liberty to direct to you, and which I humbly request you will favorably receive ; and although you may have the opportunity of perusing it after its publication, yet I choose to send it to you in manuscript previous thereto, that thereby you might not only have an earlier inspection, but that you might also view it in my own hand writing.10.

And now, Sir, I shall conclude, and subscribe myself, with the most profound respect, Your most obedient humble servant, 11.


Thomas Jefferson's response to Banneker Philadelphia , Aug. 30. 1791.


I THANK you, sincerely, for your letter of the 19th instant, and for the Almanac it contained. No body wishes more than I do, to see such proofs as you exhibit, that nature has given to our black brethren talents equal to those of the other colors of men ; and that the appearance of the want of them, is owing merely to the degraded condition of their existence, both in Africa and America. I can add with truth, that no body wishes more ardently to see a good system commenced, for raising the condition, both of their body and mind, to what it ought to be, as far as the imbecility of their present existence, and other circumstances, which cannot be neglected, will admit.

I have taken the liberty of sending your Almanac to Monsieur de Condozett, Secretary of the Academy of Sciences at Paris, and Member of the Philanthropic Society, because I considered it as a document, to which your whole color had a right for their justification, against the doubts which have been entertained of them.

I am with great esteem, Sir,
Your most obedient Humble Servant,

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Untold Story: Slavery In The 20th Century

Hundreds of thousands of African Americans were held in slavery well into the 20th Century. The untold history in America. Antoinette Harrell-genealogist/researcher and Dr. Ron Walters- Director of the African American Leadership Institute reveals their ground breaking research on slavery in the 20th Century Slavery. Listen to Mae Louise Miller a former 20th Century Slave share with the public her life experience as a slave in Mississippi.

Slavery in the 20th Century Part-2

Slavery in the 20th Century Part-3

Dred Scott's Revenge

Dred Scott's Revenge: A Legal History of Race and Freedom in America by Andrew P. Napolitano.
The Declaration of Independence proclaimed America's belief in legal equality and inalienable rights. But American governments legally suspended the free will of blacks for 150 years and then denied blacks equal protection under the law for another 150 years. How did this happen in America? How were the Constitution and laws of the land twisted so as to institutionalize racism? How did it — or will it — end? In his new book Judge Andrew P. Napolitano takes a no-holds-barred look at the role of the government in the denial of freedoms on the basis of race. Juan Williams of NPR, author of Eyes on the Prize and of a biography of Thurgood Marshall, calls it "the best history of the law and race I've ever read." Damon Root and Jason Kuznicki, both of whom have written on the history of race and the law, will comment.

Plantation System in Southern Life (1950) -- Coronet Films

Coronet Films or Coronet Instructional Media Inc. produced and distributed American educational films (propaganda puff pieces). According to Wikipedia, founder David A. Smart "produced instructional short films aimed at young teenagers and high school students....." These films offered social guidance on topics such as dating, family life, courtesy and citizenship....with occasional educational topics such as the solar system and the human body."

The film "Plantation System in Southern Life" (1950) whitewashes the US slave system into a "happy darky" or "benevolent master" narrative. Jim Crow Apartheid gets a clean scrub with the neutral title of "distinct groups."

The contrast of the planter's wealth found in the homes of the planters versus the rows of small cabins that were occupied by the slaves. As you view these pictures you'll note that these slave cabins are still occupied in 1950. In other words, very little had changed in the south post-Civil War on many southern plantations 90 years after emancipation.

Plantation System in Southern Life (1950) - pt1

In Part 2, the narrator notes the three key crops that produced a vast amount of wealth, cotton, tobacco and sugar. The film asks "Did this plantation life influence the modern south? Can we find anything left of the plantation system?"

The film asserts that "freeing of the slaves" and the "great financial burden of the war disrupted the economic system of the south." But, here's the kicker as the narrator notes, that "the plantation system didn't entirely disappear." Then the narrator continues to assert that "the land remained. The source of labor, great numbers of Negroes (descendants of slaves) remained." And of course the obligatory cash crop of "cotton and the demand for cotton remained." And so the plantation system, the film summarizes, "the plantation system in its smaller and more modified way, still remained in 1950."

Most of the wealth still comes from cotton and most of the Negroes are still exploited and subjugated nearly 100 years after emancipation. It's as though time stood still in the south.

Plantation System in Southern Life (1950) - pt2

Monday, August 17, 2009

Harvard University Lecture 6: "The Sentimental Imagination"

Lecture 6: "The Sentimental Imagination" from ASU English on Vimeo.

Discussion of Lydia Maria Child and the scandal of ‘amalgamation’; responses to student questions on Whitman, Lincoln, and Thoreau; antebellum racial phenotypes and pseudo-scientific racism; visual and print culture of the abolitionist movement; stages of slave narrative production; characteristics of slave narratives; background of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) and its immense popularity and controversy; Stowe’s religion and conversion experience; James Baldwin’s famous essay on Stowe’s racial stereotyping; definition and rise of literary sentimentalism.

American Protest Literature Lecture Videos (Harvard University) from "Literature and Arts A-86: American Protest Literature from Tom Paine to Tupac"

African Americans in the West, In Search of the Racial Frontier

In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the West, 1528-1990 by Quintard TaylorPublisher Fact Sheet

A landmark history of African Americans in the West, In Search of the Racial Frontier rescues the collective American consciousness from thinking solely of European pioneers when considering the exploration, settling, & conquest of the territory west of the Mississippi. From its surprising discussions of groups of African Americans wholly absorbed into Native American culture to illustrating how the largely forgotten role of blacks in the West helped contribute to everything from the Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation ruling to the rise of the Black Panther Party, Quintard Taylor fills a major void in American history & reminds us that the African American experience is unlimited by region or social status.

Dr. Quintard Taylor, Jr.

Dr. Quintard Taylor, Jr.
Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Professor of American History

Part 1: Antebellum Slavery and Freedom, 1528-1865, Race and Liberty

Part 2: To the Frontier, 1866-1900, Homesteaders, Cowboys and Buffalo Soldiers

Part 3: The Urban Frontier, 1875-1940, African Americans in Cities

Part 4: World War II Era, 1941-1950, Migration and Transformation

Part 5: Into the 21st Century, 1951-2000, The Black West in the Modern Era

Thursday, August 6, 2009

'Cupid' - an officer's servant on board HMS Dryad.

Description: This boy, nicknamed Cupid, was originally of the Nyoro tribe. He had been captured in the Kingdom of Bunyoro, in the far northwest of present-day Uganda near Lake Albert. During this period the Kingdom of Bunyoro was often at war with the Kingdom of Buganda to the south, and captured people were often sold to the Arab slavers in exchange for cloth and metal goods. After being marched over 1300 km to the coast of Tanzania, possibly to Bagamoyo, the boy was sold again and given the Moslem name of Mabruk. It appears that he was placed on a dhow for shipment to either Zanzibar, Madagascar or Arabia. The dhow was intercepted by HMS 'Daphne' in 1868 and Mabruk was employed by the Royal Navy. Mabruk became an officer's servant on board HMS 'Dryad' and was in Mauritius where this photograph was taken around 1870. There is no indication of Mabruk's age, though he may have been around nineteen at this time. There is a forty-year-old ex-slave from East Africa by the name Mabruk, who appears in the 1891 census as a coal trimmer on board the P&O vessel SS 'Java' in the port of London. Although it is impossible to be sure that this is the same man, it was common for ex-slaves who had been employed in the Royal Navy to later seek employment in the merchant navy.
Creator: Unknown
Date: 1870
Credit line: National Maritime Museum, London

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Indian Ocean: East African slaves taken aboard the Dutch HMS Daphne from a Arab dhow, 1 November 1868.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Slave Pen at the Underground Rail

Carl Westmoreland looks over the jail used to hold slaves.
(Photo by Patrick Reddy/The Cincinnati Enquier)

Jake Thamann climbs along the side of a jail used to hold slaves as he takes measurements of the building.
(Photo by Patrick Reddy/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Timberframes Limited out of Hamilton, Ohio took down and reconstructed this period slave pen.
(Photo by Steven M. Herppich/The Cincinnati Enquier)

Job superintendent Ben Nwankwo talks with timber framers D.J. Gaker and Mike Goldberg during the reconstruction of a period slave pen at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
(Photo by Steven M. Herppich/The Cincinnati Enquier)
An eye ring, secured through a floor joist on a spike, was used to hold a chain to which a slave’s shackles were attached. The rings were in each of the joists along the center of the room; a chain was passed through the eye rings and each slave was chained to a central chain.
(Photo by Patrick Reddy/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

A conceptual drawing shows the restored slave pen in the Freedom Center’s second-level atrium.
(Submitted to The Cincinnati Enquier)


Click here to return to the US Slave Home Page