Friday, September 30, 2011

Bigotry Shaped a Great Baltimore City: Antero Pietila

From the Baltimore Sun, "Book review: 'Not In My Neighborhood' Ex-Sun author traces bigotry's role in shaping Baltimore," by Diane Scharper, 21 March 2010  --  Builder James W. Rouse is remembered as a visionary because of his shopping malls and new towns, like Columbia - promoted as free of racial discrimination. But Rouse had another, less egalitarian side, according to Antero Pietila, a former Baltimore Sun reporter and editorial writer. That side had shown itself a few years earlier in 1951 when, as vice president of the Northwood Co., Rouse looked the other way as blacks and Jews were excluded from the Northwood community.

Rouse is just one of the movers and shakers spotlighted in "Not In My Neighborhood," Pietila's eye-opening account of bigotry in Baltimore. The book spans about 100 years but focuses primarily on the years from World War II to the passage of the 1968 Civil Rights Act, the time when race relations reached a boiling point.

With its sensitive subject, this groundbreaking book is a monumental effort. Pietila spent seven years researching the people and stories in this account, which contains nearly 40 pages of notes. With facts, maps and charts, the book seems heavy at times. But Pietila hooks readers with anecdotes and arresting details. His description of Jack Goldenson during the 1968 riots on the roof of his delicatessen with a gray machine gun aimed at a surging mob is riveting.

As Pietila sees it, Baltimore's racial problems were exacerbated in 1910 when an African-American lawyer set up an office on McCulloh Street in a house he had bought from a white woman. Soon afterward, Baltimore enacted the first law in U.S. history to prohibit African-Americans from moving to white residential blocks and vice versa. Segregation existed in many Northern cities, Pietila explains. Baltimore, though, used the force of law to "achieve systemic, citywide separation." Numerous other cities, including Richmond, Va., Birmingham, Ala., and Atlanta, followed suit.

When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 1910 segregation law seven years later, Baltimore leaders weren't fazed. Covenants and other private agreements were used to bar blacks and Jews from certain neighborhoods. After the Supreme Court declared those unenforceable in 1948, Baltimore became a pioneer in blockbusting.

A 1937 map from the Federal Home Owners Loan Corporation

Most U.S. cities had separate housing markets for whites and blacks. But Baltimore, Pietila explains, had a three-tiered market: one for gentiles, one for Jews and one for blacks. It worked like a racially charged game of musical chairs. Gentiles moved out when Jews moved in. When Jewish housing demand weakened, houses went to blacks. The migration of Jews and blacks proceeded north and northwest from the harbor to Ashburton, to Windsor Hills, to Gwynn Oak and Woodlawn. Later, Jews moved to Pikesville and the Reisterstown Road corridor up to Owings Mills and Reisterstown. Gentiles moved east toward York Road or north toward Carroll County.

The bottom line is this: Gentiles excluded Jews and blacks from their neighborhoods using both legal and illegal means. Unscrupulous speculators took advantage of home sellers and buyers. Mortgage companies redlined neighborhoods where people could not get a regular mortgage, forcing them to rely on unscrupulous rent-to-buy schemes. With blockbusting techniques, flipping, and subprime mortgages, Baltimore neighborhoods and bank accounts were destroyed - to say nothing of people's souls.

Pietilla blames Baltimore's racial troubles on many people, including blockbuster Manuel Bernstein. But some, like Dale Anderson, former Baltimore County executive, deserve more blame than others, Pietilla writes.

Pietila says Anderson tried to push blacks from Towson by building a thoroughfare through the heart of an African-American neighborhood, thereby effectively eliminating it. In Catonsville, Anderson and the Baltimore County Council replaced blacks' homes with snack shacks and gas stations. Throughout the county, they decimated at least 20 old African-American settlements.

Race relations in the city were also troubling. In 1966, the Baltimore City Council considered a bill outlawing racial discrimination in housing. When an interfaith group testified in support of the bill, the members were spat upon, accused of moral blackmail and threatened with death. The bill was defeated, 13-8. After the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Baltimore, like other cities, exploded. To prevent an all-out race war, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 on April 11, which included provisions for fair housing. But by then, as Pietila vividly describes it, Baltimore - with its ugly racial and ethnic prejudices - had shown itself to be anything but Charm City. (source: Baltimore Sun)

American Apartheid Education

Baltimore City Paper, "Dire Education: Jonathan Kozol’s The Shame of the Nation Fires Off a Crucial Wake-Up Call For Rapidly Resegregating Public School Systems—Such as Baltimore’s," by Michael Corbin:

When you walk into a classroom of almost any Baltimore City public school this fall you immediately face the facts of 21st-century educational apartheid. The white children are absent. They left a while ago and won’t be coming back.

Standing in these classrooms you might think that you stumbled upon some remnant of white supremacy, some exemplar of American democratic, public institutions before 1954. What is striking is not the fact of segregation in America, but rather that we no longer care that segregation in public education matters to our democracy. In Baltimore, for instance, the generations-long struggle to integrate public education no longer has a place in public discourse. We complain mightily about the school system’s many woes, but we no longer remark that going to the city’s dysfunctional schools is almost exclusively a black thing.

“Why Segregation Matters: Poverty and Educational Inequality,” a 2002 report (reaffirmed in 2005) from Harvard University’s Civil Rights Project, ranked Baltimore City schools No. 1 in “black isolation.” That is, it found that students who attend Baltimore City schools have the “lowest exposure to whites” in the 239 school districts in the U.S. with a total enrollment greater than 25,000. The white children who still attend a Baltimore City public school are huddled in a diminishing number of schools and are often isolated within specific classrooms in those particular schools.

This isolation is not just the case for Baltimore. After several decades of incremental desegregation following the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, U.S. public schools are more than a decade into the process of resegregation. According to the Civil Rights Project, that resegregation has increased “to levels not seen in three decades.” Close to three-quarters of America’s black and Latino students attend schools that are predominately minority.

It is this demographic fact of racial segregation and its absence from our political concerns that Jonathan Kozol examines in his important new book Shame of a Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. After visiting 60 schools in 11 states over a five-year period, Kozol attempts to be both polemical and empirical about this reality of U.S. education. Apartheid has become the norm in many U.S. school districts, and Kozol wants us to name it, to acknowledge that we’ve abandoned the democratic project of integration. His book is at minimum a call for us to at least be honest that we operate in an America with a Plessy v. Ferguson reality while claiming the moral absolution of Brown v. Board of Education and its destruction of the lie of “separate but equal.”

Kozol has spent more than 40 years and written numerous books weighing the democratic promise of public schools in America. In books such as The Night Is Dark and I am Far From Home, Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation, and Savage Inequalities, Kozol has produced a body of work that stands as a singular arraignment and censure of what we often do to kids in the name of schooling. Shame of a Nation is a full-frontal jeremiad. There is an almost painful sense of exasperated urgency in the book, an angry sense that the sacrifice and struggle of the civil-rights movement is not only being dismantled but, in an Orwellian perversion, that same sacrifice and struggle is claimed as honorific imprimatur to our racially segregated schools.

For example, Kozol notes, go into any U.S. city and look for the school named after a prominent figure in the struggle for civil rights and racial equality. There you will find “bastions of segregation.” In Baltimore, for instance, we have two schools named for Thurgood Marshall, the native son architect of the Brown decision and first African-American Supreme Court justice. Thurgood Marshall High is 98.2 percent African-American. Last school year there were six white kids enrolled. Thurgood Marshall Middle is 97.7 percent African-American, with 10 white kids on roll. Kozol also points to the Thurgood Marshall Elementary in a Seattle neighborhood “where approximately half the families were Caucasian,” but “95 percent of the students [attending the school] were black, Hispanic, Native American or of Asian origin.”

The strength of Kozol’s work is always the time he spends with kids in their schools and in their neighborhood, listening to them and letting them do the talking. Shame of a Nation is no different. He renders in poignant, detail the stories of children whom he has literally watched grow up in the dysfunctional schools he has analyzed. “I walk into a class of 25 or 30 students and I look around me at the faces of children, some whom in New York City I have known since they were born, and look into their eyes . . . and I cannot discern the slightest hint that any vestige of the legal victory embodied in Brown v. Board of Education or the moral mandate that a generation of activists and young idealists lived and sometimes died for has survived within these schools and neighborhoods.”

Similarly, Baltimore City students in their hypersegregated schools simply have no expectation that they operate in the same world as white kids. Going to such segregated schools, argued the Supreme Court in 1954, “generates a feeling of inferiority as to [black students’] status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone. . . . Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Today, we wonder at the lure for Baltimore school kids of the corner, of the street and a thug life, but many simply see no value in these separate and unequal institutions of educational apartheid. There is not only the so-called achievement gap that politicians hand-wring over, but there is clearly an opportunity gap as well, and black kids often make a rational calculus about what the real deal is in America. The 2001 study “Labor Market Conditions Among 16-24 Year-Old Young Adults in Maryland and Baltimore,” from the Institute for Policy Studies at Johns Hopkins University, puts the dropout rate for African-American males from Baltimore City schools at a staggering 76 percent.

Most people simply have no idea what goes on in segregated city schools. However, because we go to such great lengths to maintain the pernicious facade of “separate but equal,” we become blind to what school has become for many black kids in Baltimore and in the segregated schools across the United States. Kozol dissects these perversions of education in what he calls the “Ordering Regime”—“an architecture of adaptive strategies that promise incremental gains within the limits inequality allows.” Kozol describes the “new vocabularies of stentorian determination, new systems of incentive, and new modes of castigation. . . . Curriculum materials that are alleged to be aligned with governmentally established goals and standards and particularly suited to what are regarded as ‘the special learning styles’ of low-income urban children . . . relentless emphasis on raising test scores . . . a new empiricism and imposition of unusually detailed lists of named and numbered ‘outcomes’ for each isolated parcel of instruction.”

Simply put, in the name of marginally increasing test scores, the under- and miseducated children of apartheid schools are subjected a kind of Dickensian, quasi-militaristic intellectual indoctrination. If we could just get these kids, we seem to think, to chant every morning, “We Are Somebody,” get them to write formulaic paragraphs and memorize the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Black Teens,” then we can claim progress. We can claim that it’s not the obvious fact that the schools are different, it’s just those ghetto kids who can’t seem to get with the program.

No parent with options, black or white, would send their kids to such schools, Kozol says. Those without options are constantly told that the failed schools are being “reformed,” and the “ordering regime” is precisely what passes for “reform” of Baltimore City schools. This fall, for instance, Baltimore begins a reform of middle schools where, according to the city school system’s own analysis, “less than 3% of eighth graders can analyze text and extend information.” That reform consists mainly of mandating a uniform class structure and curriculum, hiring a consultant, and disallowing teachers to transfer out because of the hundreds of vacancies at city middle schools. Those same city middle-school students will matriculate to high school, reading on average at the fifth-grade level, and yet this year’s high-school freshmen will be the first required to pass the new Maryland High School Assessment exams to graduate.

One has to read Kozol’s powerful rendering or spend time in city classrooms to see what this “architecture of adaptive strategies” leads to for kids. What young Baltimoreans regularly get are classrooms and, indeed, whole schools where curiosity, relevance, beauty, and meaningful inquiry into their lives exist only at the margins of what passes for education, if they are there at all. It’s no wonder so many drop out.

Shame of a Nation is no manifesto. Kozol provides no systematic political program in response. He does provide an interesting review of the few and little publicized successes of interdistrict school desegregation in the U.S., and he invokes the success of many black people who, because of Brown, had access to institutions they otherwise wouldn’t have. He makes some vague gestures at saying a new movement is necessary. But Kozol’s brief against apartheid is a moral one. He wants us to be ashamed. This vocabulary of moral outrage is more associated with the conservative right these days in the struggle over things such as abortion, gay marriage, and the proverbial “family values.” In some measure, because of such rhetorical infidelity, Kozol’s moral vocabulary falls a bit flat.

Also importantly absent from Kozol’s analysis are any of the voices of intellectuals, activists, or even the kids from the so-called hip-hop generation. Like the kids in our segregated classrooms, analysts such as Michael Eric Dyson, Adolph Reed, bell hooks, and Bakari Kitwana, among others, challenge the invocation of the great civil-rights struggle and its moral vocabulary when it doesn’t acknowledge much less ameliorate the current crisis and lived experience of contemporary educational apartheid in places such as Baltimore City.

Nevertheless, Shame of the Nation is a moving and necessary testimony. It is both documentary evidence of the unredeemed promise of Brown and an indictment of the rhetorical bombast about equal educational opportunities in this country. Today, in Baltimore and in cities across America, kids sit in classrooms in deeply separate and unequal schools. And we don’t appear to give a damn about it anymore. If we take seriously the role of public education in our democracy, then we should be ashamed.

--Michael Corbin teaches English and literacy at the Academy for College and Career Exploration, an “innovative” public high school in Baltimore City. (source: Baltimore City Paper)

This Is America - Jonathan Kozol Part 1

Baltimore: School Desegregation

Parents Protesting Desegregation in Baltimore Schools

Baltimore youngsters look on as parents picket a school yesterday in south west Baltimore in the City's first expression of protest against the end to segregation of white and black students. Today, more than 400 white students rioted in a Baltimore high school, attacking two black students and attempting to upset a police car. Police reserves were rushed to the scene as the rioting threatened to spread.
Howell Baum, Professor, School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation, University of Maryland, College Park

In his well-researched book Brown in Baltimore: School Desegregation and the Limits of Liberalism (Cornell, 2010), Howell S. Baum describes how Baltimore officials attempted and failed to integrate the city schools while he also demonstrates that the freedom of choice is not enough to produce schools with a racially diverse atmosphere.

Social Sciences Forum Presents: Howell Baum

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Negro Fort

Florida's Negro Fort: 1815 - 1816
The fort was a menace to all slaveholders in the vicinity -- possibly the most ominous threat that the U.S. slave industry had ever seen. General Jackson was incensed. As commander of the Southeast, he issued an ultimatum to the Spanish governor: destroy the fort, seize the lawless "banditti" who manned it, and return all U.S. Negroes who had been "enticed from the service of their masters." If not, Spain must face the consequences for harboring brigands: U.S. forces would invade Spanish territory and destroy the fort themselves.

When the British evacuated Florida in the spring of 1815, they left a well-constructed and fully-armed fort on the Apalachicola River in the hands of their allies, about 300 African Americans and 30 Seminole and Choctaw Indians. News of "Negro Fort" (as it came to be called) attracted as many as 800 black fugitives who settled in the surrounding area.

Under the command of a black man named Garson and a Choctaw chief (whose name is unknown), the inhabitants of Negro Fort not only provided protection for the community, but also launched raids across the Georgia border. According to the Savannah Journal, fugitives ran from as far away as Tennessee and the Mississippi Territory to seek refuge at the fort.

Military map showing the Negro Fort and Fort Gadsden
Plan of Fort Gadsden, constructed in 1818 on the grounds of the Negro Fort. The location of the Negro Fort is noted in the top-center of this 1818 sketch by Captain James Gadsden. National Archives
In March of 1816, under mounting pressure from Georgia slaveholders, General Andrew Jackson petitioned the Spanish Governor of Florida to destroy the settlement. At the same time, he instructed Major General Edmund P. Gaines, commander of U.S. military forces "in the Creek nation," to destroy the fort and "restore the stolen negroes and property to their rightful owners."

On July 27, following a series of skirmishes in which they were routed by Negro Fort warriors, the American forces and their 500 Lower Creek allies launched an all-out attack under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Duncan Clinch, with support from a naval convoy commanded by Sailing Master Jairus Loomis.

William McIntosh
William McIntosh, the Coweta Creek chief who colluded with Andrew Jackson to wage war on the Seminoles and lead slave raids against the maroons. Hand-colored lithograph from the McKenney-Hall History of the Indian tribes of North America (1858), after the 1825 painting by Charles Bird King.

The two sides exchanged cannon fire, but the shots of the inexperienced black gunners failed to hit their targets. A shot from the American forces entered the opening to the Fort's powder magazine, igniting an explosion that destroyed the fort and its occupants.

Garson and the Choctaw chief, among the few who survived the carnage, were handed over to the Creek, who shot Garson and scalped the chief. Other survivors were returned to slavery.

Fort Gadsden was constructed over the site of the ruins of Negro Fort. (source: PBS)

M.I.T. LECTURE: Minorities in the United States

About the Lecture: Panelists attest to the long and tortuous journey that minority groups have undertaken for citizenship and full inclusion in U.S. society, a journey that is far from over.
Melissa Nobles

150 years after the start of the Civil War, America has a black president, says Melissa Nobles yet the quest for African-American equality in the U.S. has not been a wholly “triumphant story.” She tells the “slightly grim tale,” starting in slave times, when even free blacks held “murky citizenship status.” The Civil War and the crucial 13th-15th amendments to the Constitution that followed did not settle matters. For black men, a guaranteed right to vote and to other basic freedoms “was settled not (by law) but by facts on the ground and actual enforcement,” says Nobles -- a process requiring another 100 years. She describes the violence and brutality of the Jim Crow period, including thousands of lynchings, brought to an end only by the civil rights movement and legislation of the 1960s.

Finally, black citizens have been experiencing economic mobility, as well as political participation, with results increasingly evident at the ballot box. But Nobles sees an “underbelly to this generally triumphant story:” the astonishingly high incarceration rate of black men, with devastating social, economic and political implications for all African Americans.

Emma Teng

Emma Teng differs strenuously with the stereotype of Asians as “the model minority.” She documents their centuries’-long struggle to be perceived as a race “fit” to immigrate to this country, much less become a citizen. An 18th-century law permitting naturalization exclusively to “free white immigrants” led to court cases weighing the racial status of outsiders. Over time, courts ruled consistently that Asians were “not white,” says Teng, illustrating the “deep opposition” the nation’s white majority felt to Asian immigration. Teng ticks off the arguments: that Chinese culture was rooted in “despotism,” for instance, or that Asians were “heathens” whose beliefs conflicted with Christian values. In spite of a few exceptional decisions, Asian immigrants, even those veterans of early U.S. wars abroad, found themselves barred from naturalization. Only after World War II were restrictions lifted, says Teng, but Asians today still face “perpetual foreigner syndrome,” where they may be fully legal citizens but “not one of us.”

Christine Ortiz

A child of Puerto Rican immigrants and a long-standing advocate for academic diversity, Christine Ortiz understands the hurdles Hispanics face in higher education. While MIT has come a long way since enrolling its first Hispanic student in the late 1800s, and committed to tripling its faculty in underrepresented minorities in a decade, Ortiz finds some reason for concern. At a recently convened roundtable for Hispanic MIT students, Ortiz learned that many felt under pressure: not all students’ families appreciated the value of a graduate degree in a field other than medicine, law or engineering, and some, studying far from home for many years, saw the need to return.

While MIT’s undergraduate population has diversified a great deal, more strides must be made at the graduate and faculty level, Ortiz says. There is also a need for role models and a better “sense of community among this diverse population,” so the university can be a place “welcoming to all races, cultures, socioeconomic groups and genders.”

Willard Johnson

In a personal coda to the session, Willard Johnson, who notes his Cherokee ancestry, discusses the little-known history of escaped African slaves who joined Native American communities. Embraced in particular by Florida Seminole Indians, these African Americans enjoyed ‘citizenship’ within Indian nations, but were also party to the abysmal treatment received by the Indians as they were driven far away from tribal lands. Nevertheless, says Johnson, Indian tribes were the first to recognize the political, legal and ethical basis of inclusion, and he says, “I hope native nations will chart the way for the rest of the U.S.”

Louisiana: Oyster Shuckers in Dunbar Cannery

Prosperity comes from a people’s ability and willingness to utilize their natural surroundings to the fullest extent in order to maintain stable living conditions. In America, the Native American’s learned to follow the buffalo herds, explorers and other people in the mountains learned to hunt and trap animals, farmers across the country learned to cultivate land to maximize their production and harvest, and the coastal people on the edges of this country learned to fish.
Above and below: at the Maggioni Canning Company in Port Royal, South Carolina, children shucked oysters for 4 hours before a half day of school, returning for 3 more hours of work after shool.
The seafood industry has always been a major industrial factor in the South’s economy. Ever since the Native Americans taught European colonists their method of catching oysters on the offshore reefs, oysters have been a profitable enterprise in the seafood industry. (Bellande, Schmidt.)

Like most food producing industries, fishing for oysters is a very labor intensive endeavor. Men would use rakes and tongs to gather oysters from the reefs and then would take their catch back to the boats called schooners or skiffs. Before health regulations, oysters were opened in the water and the shells were left for future oyster development.

These health regulations along with the expanding industry called for the use of factories to store and ship oysters. Factories weren’t implemented until the creation of icehouses because of seafood’s highly perishable nature. With the introduction of processing factories or canneries came the constant need for factory workers, which in most cases were women and children; young boys worked in factories until they were old or strong enough to work on the boats with the men. (Bellande, Schmidt.)
General view of shucking shed. Location: Dunbar, Louisiana.

In the early stages of the oyster industry most factories or canneries were part of were known as camps. The owners of the factories would set up these camps as self-sufficient communities. They had stores that held the basic necessities for the people who live in the camp, all of whom were workers for the factory.
Housing Conditions in the Settlement of Dunbar

The workers lived in cheap rent row-type-homes like those seen in the photograph “Housing Conditions in the Settlement of Dunbar.” The caption of this photo points out a church in the background and talks of a jail in the settlement. The owners of the factories would do their best to create a sense of community in the camps as well as do what they could to please the workers. These camps and paternalistic nature of the oyster industry came with the unionization and decentralization that occurred when companies that once had owned process, from fishing to processing to shipping, in a way, subcontracted other companies to do different steps of the process. (Bellande, Schmidt.)

All are oyster shuckers in the Dunbar Cannery. Began work about 3:00 A.M. and worked until about 5:00 P.M. with half an hour for lunch. The great hill of shells is only part of the season''s product. Location: Dunbar, Louisiana
But no matter who owned the company, the factory, the boats, or the cannery, the people who worked in the cannery remained the same. The 14 hour work day in the canneries began around 3:00 AM; each had a whistle with its own unique whistle to call its workers to the cannery. Oyster shucking was what is know as piece work, meaning that the more oysters you would shuck, the more money you would make.

Oyster shuckers would use a knife and small pieces of cloth that covered part of their knife hand to cut the oysters from their shells after they had been steamed, a process of opening the oyster’s shells using steam. The scene in the photograph “Group of Oyster Shuckers,” shows the general atmosphere of a cannery. This photo’s caption explains that there are about 300 workers in that room, and tells how the woman in the center of the frame said that her young daughter was a great help to her. Looking at this picture it is easy to get a sense of how it felt to work in one of these canneries. Everyone is wearing heavy clothes or aprons, canneries were notoriously cold, mainly because oyster season was during the winter. It was not uncommon for the women to have relatives bring hot water from their homes or to wrap newspaper around their legs to keep warm. (Bellande, Schmidt.)
Rosy, an eight-year-old oyster shucker who works steady all day from about 3:00 A.M. to about 5 P.M. in Dunbar Cannery. The baby will shuck as soon as she can handle the knife. Location: Dunbar, Louisiana
Lewis Hine’s photograph “Rosy an Eight Year Old Oyster Shucker” is one of the clearest depictions of the assembly line type of process that occurred in the Dunbar Oyster Cannery. The cart Rosy and the other workers are standing around come into the shucking room on railroad ties from the steaming room.

There were normally eight workers around one cart, they would cut the oysters from their shell and place the oysters in the buckets that are hanging from the carts in the picture, the shells were thrown on the ground beneath the tracks or behind the workers like see here in the picture.

Above and below: worker housing built atop a shell pile at Maggioni Canning in Port Royal, South Carolina.
Huge piles of oyster shells collected outside of the canneries, many canneries tried to maximize their financial income by selling the shells to local cities for fill or for road repairs. Also in this picture you can see how eight workers worked together on the same crate, it was very common for the same eight people to work together day in and day out becoming a close team. And it is also quite visible in this photograph that the children workers were a big part of that team. (Bellande, Schmidt.)

8-year-old Annie from Baltimore is a shucker in the Dunbar Cannery, (Dunbar, Louisiana).

It was quite common for mothers to bring their young children to work with them. Camps and factories did not have babysitters or nurseries so most women would bring their younger children to work, some women made playpens in the factories for their children but most kept their children on the floor next to them, where they could watch and learn how to perform their mother’s task. The photo “Four Year Old Mary, Who Shucks Pots of Oysters,” tells of a mother and daughter at the Dunbar Cannery in Louisiana. The caption tells us that Mary shucks two pots of oysters a day and tends to her mothers sick child part of the day, while Mary shucks oysters her mother works with her sick baby in her arms. The caption also tells us that Mary’s mother is the fastest shucker in the cannery and makes $1.50 a day. It was probably because she was the best worker in the factory that the owner allowed her daughter to work part time and care for the baby, most factory owners did their best to please the better workers because in the south if a worker felt mistreated they could easily quit and find a job at another local cannery. (Bellande, Schmidt.)
Josie (age 6), Bertha (age 6) and Sophie (age 10) shuck at the Maggioni Canning Company in Port Royal.
Children working in the Dunbar Cannery in Louisiana and others like it all along the Gulf Coast started their working lives very young. Lewis Hine’s photograph “Eight Year Old Lizzie Earns 30 A Day” is a clear representation of children working in the seafood industry in the south. Hine says in the pictures caption that he watched the eight year old work at full speed all day long and that she could not speak English.
Many of the children around Lizzie’s age would go to the factories early in the morning and then leave to go to school and return after their classes to finish the day working in the factory. At fourteen children would receive a work card that made it legal for them to work in the factories, much like a modern work permit. Often children under the legal working age were forced to leave the factory if they were discovered by an investigator, for this reason many children hid whenever an investigator visited the cannery. (Bellande, Schmidt.)
1911 child labor photo Eight-year-old Lizzie, earns 30 cents a day shucking oysters in the Dunbar Cannery. I saw her working steady all day, at top speed. Could not speak a word of English. Location

Lewis Hine’s photography presents the major problems that were evident in the American industrial economy at the turn of the century. Child labor endangered millions of American children and today threatens millions of children of the third world. People like Lewis Hine brought the dangers of child labor to the attention of mainstream America and helped bring an end to endangering children in the workplace; perhaps someone will do the same for the children in other parts of the world so they too can enjoy their childhood.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Black History In America: Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mt. Pleasant, SC

Boone Plantation Slave Cabin

Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mt. Pleasant, SC is proud to introduce a new groundbreaking addition to the Boone Hall experience. Visitors can now take a journey through our exciting new exhibit, "Black History In America."

Boone Plantation Slave Cabin

What really makes this exhibit unique is that this story will be told using eight of the original slave cabins located on Boone Hall Plantation. Each of the cabins on Slave Street present different themes in telling the black history story. Visitors are able to see the different aspects of daily life, how they worked and lived, struggles that were faced, as well as follow different periods of historical progression from the beginning all the way up to present day.

Boone Plantation Slave Cabin

Life size figures, pre-recorded narratives, audiovisual presentations, photos, pictures, biographical information, and actual historical relics, are interwoven and meshed together in displays throughout the cabins presenting this new exhibit.

Boone Plantation Slave Cabins

Themes for each cabin are as follows:
Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mt. Pleasant, SC

Cabin 1 – Praise House
Cabin 2 – Slave Crafts
Cabin 3 – Their Life & Family
Cabin 4 – Archaeological Discoveries
Cabin 5 – Their Work and Life
Cabin 6 – Emancipation & Freedom
Cabin 7 – Struggle For Civil Rights
Cabin 8 – Heroes and Leaders

Boone Plantation Slave Cabin

The next part of our journey will take us past the original slave cabins along “the row of oaks,” as the driveway is referred to. For some people this part of the Boone Hall Plantation is their least favorite.
Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mt. Pleasant, SC

As you approach the slave cabins you start to feel a sense of remorse that is, of course, unfounded. Nonetheless, you realize at this point that slavery was real in all its profound evil. As you peer into the blank windows of the cabins you see the meager living endured by thousands of slaves throughout time until abolishment.

Boone Plantation Slave Cabin

From the front door, to the right is usually the bed area, straight ahead is where food was often prepared and eaten, and finally off to the left is a small play or study area for the children. Along the way you come to some people that artistically recreate a craft originally brought over from Africa. That craft is basket weaving, which is very popular with the locals.

Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina

From the beginning all the way to the end of your tour, you will feel like you stepped into the past. You see what you might have done back then, in your mind. How life might have been, whether you would have liked to have been alive then, how the food would taste, all these things course through your mind like the Ashley River runs through the property. Sadness creeps up on you as you prepare to leave. As you turn back on the road leading away from the house, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will return. (source: Hubpages)

Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mt. Pleasant, SC


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