New Database of Slave Cemeterys

Haven’t posted anything on the Blog in a while. A Heart Attack, lawsuit over $1 million the USTDA defaulted on paying my little company for post-earthquake  work done in Haiti (all the crooks in Haiti aren’t Haitian), and my Mother passing ate up much of my time in 2012. I am all back and better now – and hope to get a few Blog Posts in the rest of this year.

Met a guy a few years ago down in Accomack County Virginia who was wandering through the woods on a farm adjoining my property carrying a digital camera and some pretty fancy”sniffer”  detection gear. He was on a mission to discover abandoned graveyards in the region, many of which were slave graveyards. I see now Fordham University has taken up the call.

Fordham has launched a first-of-its kind national database designed to catalog places in the US where slaves are buried. The Burial Database Project of Enslaved African Americans is the brainchild of Fordham’s Sandra Arnold, whose ancestors were slaves, reports the New York Times. The site relies on visitors to submit information about the locations of cemeteries along with those buried there.

“Much of the material culturally associated with slave history has been lost for many reasons; therefore the study of slave cemeteries will provide tangible clues of African cultures and funeral practices. The most important aspect is digging for the slave’s humanity. The preservation of these sacred spaces is to remember the past so that our future contemporaries will have a better understanding of American policies that supported this system of cruelty, but most importantly to remember the resilience of the human spirit.” 

- National Trust for Historic Preservation

“The fact that they lie in these unmarked abandoned sites, it’s almost like that they are kind of vanishing from the American consciousness,” says Arnold. The intent is to build a “historical network of sorts,” says the Root, which interviews Arnold and others involved with the project. Had something like this been in place last year, it might havesaved Walmart some construction headaches in Alabama.

 

Priceless Tubman Artifact Donation to Museum of African American History

This one is simply stunning. Who would believe such priceless artifacts still existed – much less were in private hands?

Black history museum gets special opening gift

Black History Month was marked in a very special way Wednesday. The president and the first lady attended the ground breaking for the National Museum of African-American History and Culture on the National Mall, where Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech still echoes.
CBS News correspondent Chip Reid got a first look at some of the priceless artifacts the museum will hold.

Charles Blockson, 78, has been collecting African and African-American artifacts for more than 50 years. The high point came just last year when he inherited 39 items that belonged to Harriet Tubman. Born into slavery, she escaped, but returned to the South nearly 20 times leading hundreds of others to freedom on what came to be known as the Underground Railroad.

Some of Charles Blockson’s ancestors were rescued by Tubman.

“When I first received (her artifacts), I was surprised, shocked. Nearly every item I picked up I started to cry, the tears just, my emotional armor erupted,” Blockson said.

The items include a silk shawl that was given to Tubman by Queen Victoria, and Tubman’s book of gospel hymns. Blockson, though, says it felt wrong to keep them, calling it “an awesome burden.”

So he donated the Tubman artifacts, most of them too fragile to be handled, to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture…

Some History – The Intersection Between Maple Syrup and Slavery

Apple Butter - The Old Fashioned Way. The "Stirrer" is Actually a 6' Long paddle, designed to keep the cook far enough away to (hopefully) not get burned by the little volcanic splatters when it gets too hot.

This is one of those “Sweet Potato Sin” blogs with a dose of history…

Didn’t get to make my normal fall foraging run to the Blue Ridge or Appalachian Mountains this year, and thus didn’t get a chance to stock up on a few essentials. Key of which is Apple Butter, which I buy from a farmer in quart Mason Jars with no label. My little one who has been brought up on the stuff, along with other regional favorites (apple smoked trout, rhubarb pie, mountain berry jellies), was in a bit of a tizzy when we ran out. So in typical Daddy-do mode, I ran to the grocery and purchased a jar of the mass produced stuff…

It was AWFUL!

I immediately went back to the store, and purchased another jar, from another producer…

It wasn’t awful…just miserable.

Since the family has pretty much died out, or moved out of the mountain areas of West Virginia, my kids never had the “character building opportunity” to stand out back and make Apple Butter in a big cast iron kettle.  Of course to my Dad and older brothers, my character building was a bit less stringent and comprehensive, as by the time I came along they had things like gas burners to heat the pot, instead of a wood fire. So I missed the additional character building influences of chopping the wood, and learning how to keep the bed of coals at exactly the right temperature while stirring the pot all night out back of the house in freezing weather! Then there was the story about walking 4 miles “uphill” in the cold and snow to everywhere they needed to go…

Back Yard Maple Sap Boiling

No wonder our country’s morals have gone to hell in a  hand-basket!

So a logical question from my little one’s standpoint was – How do they make this stuff? The closest analogy which I knew she had seen, on a visit to Vermont several years ago was how Maple Syrup is made. You start with a cooked and strained mix similar to Apple Sauce – and then you cook it over a low fire for 24 hours, just like maple sap to make maple syrup. And just like Maple Syrup, you only get about 1/6th of what you started with in finished product. And just like Maple Syrup – if you don’t manage the temperature and constantly stir it…

You got a mess.

So I read this article with some interest (and the fact that the supposed –  top quality Maple Syrup is only slightly less expensive than gold) , and then was intrigued to learn how abolitionists as early as the 1790’s tried to use Maple sugar as a means to end slavery in the Caribbean.

Making the Grade: Why the Cheapest Maple Syrup Tastes Best

The market for maple syrup offers an odd inversion. The thin, pale fluid labeled Fancy or Grade A Light Amber commands the highest prices. It is the white bread of condiments, an inoffensive accompaniment to more flavorful fare. The robust, thick syrup marked Grade B fairly bursts with maple flavor, but sells at a significant discount. So why does the nominally inferior grade offer decidedly superior flavor? The answer lies in the history of maple syrup, a product that has long served as a symbol of American authenticity. As our sense of American identity has evolved, our syrup labels have not always kept pace. Continue reading

Cambridge University’s “first” Black Student

This is the story of an American, a black American who attended Cambridge University before the end of slavery in the United States.

What is interesting here is the phrase “first recorded black student”. It appears there were other black students at the University before Crummell, who were conveniently “forgotten” in the books. Considering that there is recent evidence of black folks being in England as early as the 13th Century, that is an interesting point to explore.

Cambridge University’s ‘first’ black student pioneer

Alexander CrummellThe story of Cambridge University’s first officially recorded black student is being told as part of the university’s Festival of Ideas.

Alexander Crummell was an American minister and the son of a freed slave who studied at Queens’ College, Cambridge, in the late 1840s.

While it appears he was not the first black student at Cambridge, he is the first for whom official records exist.

Cambridge lecturer Sarah Meek said he was seen as an “object of curiosity”.

She continued: “One of his servants, when she was dismissed by his wife Sarah, called the Crummells ‘black devils’, so they were obviously not immune to the kind of prejudice we might imagine.”

But at the same time he was a mature student who “was a respected, grown-up figure”.

During his university vacations he toured the country delivering anti-slavery lectures, and as a minister gave sermons in local churches.

Slavery had been abolished on British soil in the early 1800s, and in British colonies in the 1830s.

The anti-slavery campaigners Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce were both Cambridge graduates and the university was seen as an important centre for the abolitionist movement.

Writing in 1847 Crummell said: “Perhaps no seat of learning in the world… has done more for human liberty and human well-being than this institution.”

Crummell grew up in New York. His father was a freed slave and his mother a free-born woman from Long Island.

He attended one of the African Free Schools set up by New York abolitionists to educate the children of freed slaves.

But while slavery had been abolished in the northern United States, prejudice continued.

When Crummell and two of his New York classmates were awarded places at a secondary school in New Hampshire, they were driven away by an outraged local community.

Alexander CrummellHe continued his studies in New York, and was eventually ordained in the Episcopal church, which is connected with the Church of England.

It was this membership of the Episcopal church which would later allow him to study at Cambridge. If he had been a Methodist or Presbyterian, Jewish or Roman Catholic, he would not have been able to take up a place at Cambridge until 1871.

After graduating Crummell spent 20 years in the freed slave colony of Liberia before returning to New York.

Dr Meek said: “Back in the United States he was a leader and writer who influenced many subsequent writers.”

Pat Buchanan Loves Having Herman Cain Out There on the Lawn

‘Nuf said after this one…

Another MSNBC Host Hammers Tea Party Republicans

Well – at least MSNBC is taking their role as the anti-Faux Network seriously.

More and more people are stating the obvious about the Tea Party dominated Republican Party of today…

It’s about time. Here, Thomas Roberts hits the Republican field about their desire to go back in time to when “Slavery was cool”.

The video begins with the issue surrounding Republicans booing a US Service member who had served in Iraq, because he is gay. Roberts points out that not one of the 8 candidates bothered to thank the Veteran for his service.

(Comments on slavery about 2:50 mark)

Thomas Roberts: GOP Candidates Want To Return To Time When ‘Slavery Was Cool’

MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts condemned some members of the audience at the recent Republican debate for booing an openly gay soldier.

The crowd at Thursday’s debate provided yet another controversial moment when some people booed a video of a soldier asking about the candidates’ policy on the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law. Roberts called the moment “strange,” and noted that none of the candidates or anyone in the audience praised the soldier for his service.

He also criticized the GOP hopefuls for not denouncing the boos. One of the candidates, Rick Santorum, later claimed not to have heard them. But Roberts did not like Santorum referring to the lifting of the ban on openly gay soldiers as “social experimentation.”

“I get out of all of these things that many of these candidates would rather take legislation to build a time machine and go back in time to where we had no women voting, slavery was cool,” he said.

Roberts has previously said that Michele Bachmann would “extinguish” gay people.

 

US Says Cherokee Cannot Exclude “Black Cherokee”

In 2007, the Cherokee Council passed a resolution saying the the “Black Cherokee” were no longer part of the tribe.  The Cherokee Supreme Court just validated that resolution as “legal”.The move was partly political, having to do with the voting for a new Chief. It appears the black Cherokee favored replacing the old Chief – so in true Republican fashion – the old Chief took away the voting rights of the black Cherokee (Hey… It worked for George bush…Twice!). And partly to do with who gets the benefits from the crumbs of casino money the tribe managed not to give away. There is a lot of “dirt” as to who actually gets rich off the Casino business, while the rest of the tribe lives at subsistence level on Welfare provided by the US Government.

The move disenfranchised about 2,800 black Cherokee.

Cherokee History is fascinating and complex. The story of the Tribe’s struggle to avoid annihilation through accommodation with white settlers, and the forces which made them different from every other tribe in the US is a study in Historical pressures, and the willingness of one tribe to adapt – even if that adaptation meant their ultimate destruction as a cultural entity.  They are actually part of the Southern Iroquois, and one of the largest tribes in the US.

Think maybe those who made this move should have learned a few lessons from the period of 1800-1866. They should also have learned a lesson from the Seminole who tried this a decade ago…

Too bad some did not.

Cherokee Indians say they will not be dictated to by U.S.

The nation’s second-largest Indian tribe said on Tuesday that it would not be dictated to by the U.S. government over its move to banish 2,800 African Americans from its citizenship rolls.

“The Cherokee Nation will not be governed by the BIA,” Joe Crittenden, the tribe’s acting principal chief, said in a statement responding to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Crittenden, who leads the tribe until a new principal chief is elected, went on to complain about unnamed congressmen meddling in the tribe’s self-governance.

The reaction follows a letter the tribe received on Monday from BIA Assistant Secretary Larry Echo Hawk, who warned that the results of the September 24 Cherokee election for principal chief will not be recognized by the U.S. government if the ousted members, known to some as “Cherokee Freedmen,” are not allowed to vote.

The dispute stems from the fact that some wealthy Cherokee owned black slaves who worked on their plantations in the South. By the 1830s, most of the tribe was forced to relocate to present-day Oklahoma, and many took their slaves with them. The so-called Freedmen are descendants of those slaves.

After the Civil War, in which the Cherokee fought for the South, a treaty was signed in 1866 guaranteeing tribal citizenship for the freed slaves.

The U.S. government said that the 1866 treaty between the Cherokee tribe and the U.S. government guaranteed that the slaves were tribal citizens, whether or not they had a Cherokee blood relation.

The African Americans lost their citizenship last month when the Cherokee Supreme Court voted to support the right of tribal members to change the tribe’s constitution on citizenship matters.

The change meant that Cherokee Freedmen who could not prove they have a Cherokee blood relation were no longer citizens, making them ineligible to vote in tribal elections or receive benefits.

Besides pressure from the BIA to accept the 1866 Treaty as the law of the land, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is withholding a $33 million disbursement to the tribe over the Freedmen controversy.

Attorneys in a federal lawsuit in Washington are asking a judge to restore voting rights for the ousted Cherokee Freedmen in time for the September 24 tribal election for Principal Chief.

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