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The Second Nat Turner Rebellion

Nat Turner was neither the first, or the last black man held in slavery to rebel. He was just the white slave owners worst nightmare come true. During the Revolutionary War entire counties didn’t supply troops to the American Army because of fear of local slave rebellions. Despite the Southern Myth of “happy” plantation life, slave owner knew they were on thin ice, and exercised extreme brutality as a means to keep the slaves cowed. Bacon’s Rebellion, a prelude to the Revolutionary War was fueled and fought by slaves and indentured servants. It is never listed as a slave revolt, because the leader Nathaniel Bacon was an Aristocrat.

Not sure I can see the benefit of what Kalifah, mentioned in the story below, is doing. Black History isn’t just black history…It is American History.

The Racial Politics of Nat Turner Tours

The subject of an acclaimed new movie, the 1831 slave revolt led by Turner is also the focus of two tours, one black and one white, in a region still divided over Turner’s legacy.

Nate Parker entered his film The Birth of a Nation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival with little publicity and no distribution deal. It emerged having garnered the festival’s Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award, and a deal with Fox Searchlight for $17.5 million—the largest deal in Sundance history. Parker both directed and plays the central role of Nat Turner, who planned and carried out the most violent slave insurrection in American history in Virginia in 1831 that left 55 white men, women, and children dead. …

The controversy surrounding Parker’s past has obscured a far more interesting story currently playing out in Southampton County, where for the first time efforts are underway to interpret the 1831 slave rebellion for the general public. It is a promising development that comes amidst reports of police brutality within the black community, an active Black Lives Matter campaign, and a presidential election that has bitterly divided the nation along racial lines on the eve of the conclusion of our nation’s first black presidency. It also points to an increased willingness on the part of museums, historic sites, and even Hollywood to confront the violence of America’s slave past, but it is not without controversy.

It is difficult to exaggerate the challenges involved in interpreting Nat Turner’s controversial life in the place where so much blood was shed. This history remains contested ground for the black and white residents of Jerusalem (now Courtland) and the surrounding county. Local debates about how to interpret and remember Nat Turner point to tightly embraced competing memories of the past that fall along racial lines and more specific disagreements about what kinds of historical sources ought to be given priority, and who has the right to tell these stories.

Such differences stretch all the way back to the event itself and its aftermath, which included the execution of free and enslaved blacks by a community that feared additional violence, the eventual capture of Turner, his trial, and subsequent execution.

Efforts to interpret Turner and his slave rebellion began in 2002, when the Southampton County Historical Society (SCHS) gained possession of the Vaughan House—the only extant building dating back to the 1831 insurrection. Rebecca Vaughan, along with her two sons, niece, and overseer, were killed by Turner’s followers. Once restored, the home will serve as the centerpiece of an exhibit that explores the violent deaths of its occupants as well as the story of slavery in the community and the events that led up to and followed the bloody uprising. Its centerpiece will be the sword that Turner used throughout much of the rebellion.

Much of the history will eventually be shared through roughly 40 wayside markers at 17 stops throughout the county that will be accessible by foot and by car. Early drafts of individual markers reveal a clear commitment to deal with the horrors of chattel slavery in Southampton County as well as its connection to broader events. Visitors will be able to read about obscure slave rebellions such as The Plant Cutter Revolt of 1663, George Boxley Rebellion in 1811, as well as better known moments such as Denmark Vesey’s Revolt in 1822 and Gabriel’s Rebellion of 1800.

Turner’s story is told alongside other notable local African Americans, including Dred Scott, whose unsuccessful legal plea for his freedom was decided by the Supreme Court just a few years before the start of the Civil War. John Brown—not to be confused with the famous abolitionist—escaped slavery and eventually made his way to Great Britain, where he published his autobiography with the help of The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. Finally, Anthony Gardiner traveled to Liberia with the help of the American Colonization Society and eventually became that nation’s ninth president. By highlighting the lives of these men, the SCHS hopes to frame the broader narrative around the quest for freedom and civil rights.

Any attempt to interpret a story like this for the general public, however, raises difficult questions of interpretation. Is it possible to tell a story that transcends racial divisions? How do you interpret the killing of women and children—a subject that even Nate Parker, who characterizes Turner as a hero, chose to avoid almost entirely in his movie? Most importantly, how should we understand Turner’s actions? Was he a freedom fighter, a murderer, or something else entirely? In short, what is his legacy?

These questions matter to Rick Francis, who is the Southampton County Circuit Court Clerk and belongs to the SCHS. Francis was born and raised in Southampton County and is descended from Nat Turner’s owner. From a very early age, he absorbed and re-told stories passed down by his father and others about members of his extended family, who ended up “on the business end of his ax” as well as others who were aided by local slaves and managed to survive.

While Francis fully supports the efforts of the SCHS to interpret Nat Turner’s rebellion, including its emphasis on white supremacy and the violence of slavery, he betrays a certain uneasiness when asked to evaluate Turner himself and the legacy of his actions. In a recent interview with 60 Minutes, Francis questioned whether emancipation is what motivated Turner and said that whether or not he was a freedom fighter “is not my call to make.”

Francis believes that it is possible for the SCHS—an organization that he admits is overwhelmingly white—to tell an “objective” history of Nat Turner through electronic maps, video, a driver app, artifacts, and primary sources such as The Confessions of Nat Turner penned by white Southampton lawyer Thomas Gray. Gray’s interview with Turner while in his jail cell during his trial was published shortly after his execution. It is an indispensible source for historians, but it remains a challenge to interpret. Francis’s goal from the beginning remains for the public interpretation to stay as far away from the “saint or sinner debate” and “let people come up with their own interpretation.”

But for H. Khalif Khalifah, this is neither satisfactory nor does it allay concerns that the story of Turner itself is being told by the wrong people. Born in Gosport, Alabama, and raised in New York City, Khalifah was introduced to Turner’s history during the height of the civil rights movement through publications distributed by radical black political organizations that referenced the slave as one among many “revolutionaries and militants who had waged a physical fight to Free Black People.” Trained as a master printer, Khalifah eventually started his own company that marketed books about black history to black communities.

In the mid ’80s, Khalifah and his wife moved to Southampton County, Virginia, on 123 acres of the “birth land” of Nat Turner, where he established the Nat Turner Library and Nat Turner Trail tours. He has had very little contact with the SCHS and is not involved in the organization of the new exhibits and trail tour. This distance reflects a deep skepticism that a largely white organization can accurately engage the general public about Turner’s story and the history of slavery.

Khalifah’s tours are geared specifically to African-American tourists and he rarely allows white visitors to join. When asked why, he suggested that “the pain that was visited upon black people is so brutal that emotions may become aroused against white people on the tour.” The language used along the tour adds to his concerns about how whites might respond. Stops along the tour are referred to as “battle sites,” while Turner and his men are referred to as the “Black Liberation Army of 1831.”…The Rest Here

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Posted by on October 22, 2016 in Black History


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Ava Duvernay…The 13th

Director Ava DuVernay has a new documentary out called The 13th. The documentary is named after the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution, which ended slavery…

Except in one specific instance.

This interview with Ms Duvernay goes into more detail.



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Posted by on October 10, 2016 in Black History, BlackLivesMatter, The New Jim Crow


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“Walk With Me” – How Judge Damon J. Keith Reshaped America

Judge Damon J. Keith isn’t that well known, and isn’t lauded by most historians. However his impact on Civil Rights, and the Civil Rights of all Americans is incredible. Back in 1992, when the Bush Administration dragged Uncle Tommy Clarence out from under his porch such as to fill the “Black seat” on the Supreme Court left by Thurgood Marshall – Judge Keith was one a dozen or so black Jurists whose qualification far exceeded that of Uncle Tommie.

There is a lesson in courage and determination here I hope the young folks in BLM appreciate and emulate. The way things are shaping up in this country with the Chumph and his violent racist crew…We are going to need it.


‘I don’t scare easily’: A 94-year-old judge’s refusal to bow to racism, death threats

Long before federal judge Damon Keith became known as a “crusader for justice,” he was a new Howard University Law School graduate working as a janitor while he studied for the bar exam.

It was 1949, and Keith cleaned the bathrooms at The Detroit News, his hometown newspaper. One day, Keith recalled, he was leaning against a wall in the men’s room with a law dictionary in his hands when he was interrupted.

“What are you reading?” a white reporter asked him.

Keith, the grandson of slaves and a World War II veteran, told the reporter he was studying the law dictionary to prepare for the bar exam.

“What for?” the man asked.

“I’m going to be a lawyer,” Keith responded.

The reporter laughed.

“A black lawyer?” he asked incredulously. “You better keep on mopping.”

Keith, now 94 and still serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Detroit, recounted that story two weeks ago in a Howard University moot courtroom, where students, lawyers, his former clerks and a Supreme Court nominee gathered to watch a new documentary about his life, “Walk with Me: The Trials of Damon J. Keith.”

The following day, the legendary judge sat in the front row as President Obama and black luminaries from across the country celebrated the opening of the Smithsonian’s new African American Museum of History and Culture.

Keith, one of the oldest federal jurists in the country, has been handing down important rulings on racial discrimination, presidential power and other contentious legal issues for nearly 50 years. And he shows no signs of retiring. He’s at his chambers each day by 9 a.m., where the first thing he does is read his Bible, he said. He works until about 5:30 pm.

Last month he issued a scathing 38-page dissent in an Ohio voting rights case, accusing two colleagues on the 6th Circuit Court of turning their backs on African American voters likely to be impacted by restrictions on early and absentee voting. He included photos and biographies of 36 people who died during the long struggle for civil rights and equal protection, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Emmett Till.

“By denying the most vulnerable the right to vote,” he wrote, “the Majority shuts minorities out of our political process. Rather than honor the men and women whose murdered lives opened the doors of our democracy and secured our right to vote, the Majority has abandoned this court’s standard of review in order to conceal the votes of the most defenseless behind the dangerous veneers of factual findings lacking support and legal standards lacking precedent.”

He also warned: “The unfettered right to vote is the bedrock of a free and democratic society—without it, such a society cannot stand.”

Then he created even more of a stir by giving an interview to Slate lamenting “the racist attitude of the majority” and mentioning his two colleagues on the panel, John Rogers and Danny Boggs.

He doesn’t apologize for calling them out by name.

“I thought the panel’s decision was racist,” he told The Post. He noted that his grandparents couldn’t vote in Georgia. His fellow judges, he said, “don’t know what we’ve gone through. They don’t know what I’ve gone through.”

Keith learned the power of the law — and of dissent — when he was student at Howard, where future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was one of his professors…Read the rest Here

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Posted by on October 6, 2016 in Black History, BlackLivesMatter, Giant Negros


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The Star Spangled Banner…Made by Slave Owners

As usual, there were black hands behind the creation of the US Flag which flew over Ft  McHenry and inspired the Star Spangled Banner.

The Slave Owner Who Stitched the Original Star-Spangled Banner

Mary Young Pickersgill’s deeds made herself an American icon. The name of the slave who aided in her most famous labor has been lost to history.

Image result for Ft MchenryThe 30-foot by 42-foot star spangled banner that inspired the national anthem was made in the summer of 1812 by a 37-year-old Baltimore widow named Mary Young Pickersgill.

She completed the task in six weeks, working late into the night with the assistance of her 13-year-old daughter Caroline Pickersgill, 13-year-old niece Eliza Young, and 15-year-old niece Margaret Young. They were joined by a 13-year-old indentured servant, Grace Wisher, who was African-American, but not a slave and likely working under the same arrangement as she would have been had she been white. 

By some accounts, they were also aided by an African-American who was a slave and who is listed by the census as living in the rented premises that served as Pickersgill’s residence as well as place of business.  The slave’s name is lost to history.

The flag was commissioned at the start of the War of 1812 by U.S. Army Major General George Armistead, the commander at Fort McHenry at the entrance to Baltimore Harbor. Armistead wrote in his instructions: “It is my desire to have a flag so large that the British will have no difficulty seeing it from a distance.”

That meant Pickersgill needed a bigger space than the flag-making shop she had opened after the death of her husband to support herself and the only one of her four children to survive past infancy. Her daughter would write in a letter to Armistead’s daughter:

The flag being so very large, mother was obliged to obtain permission from the proprietors of Claggetts brewery which was in our neighborhood, to spread it out in their malt house; and I remember seeing my mother down on the floor, placing the stars.”

The task would later be termed Herculean, but Hercules was a guy and therefore not likely to have been able to demonstrate such precision along with considerable endurance. Call it Pickersgill-ean. She added a final touch, without which Francis Scott Key might never had been inspired to write the poem that became the lyrics for “The Star Spangled Banner.”

“After the completion of the flag, she superintended the topping of it, having it fastened in the most secure manner to prevent its being torn away by (cannon) balls,” the daughter reported in the letter. “The wisdom of her precaution was shown during the engagement: many shots piercing it, but it still remained firm to the staff.”

Following the battle, Armistead must have understood that this was not just any flag and that Pickersgill was not just any flag maker. Pickersgill’s daughter would write to Armistead’s daughter:

“Your father (Armistead) declared that no one but the maker of the flag should mend it, and requested that the rents should merely be bound around.”

With her renown as the maker of the original star spangled banner, Pickersgill prospered enough to purchase the building where she lived and worked. She was also able to found America’s first organization dedicated to assisting women who had fallen on hard times. Her Impartial Female Humane Society arranged for employment and housing for its beneficiaries, as well as school vouchers for their children. She subsequently established a home for aged women and then one for men.

Pickersgill was a pioneering feminist ideal of all-American entrepreneurship and civic responsibility and she would have seemed the perfect person to have made the Star Spangled Banner were it not for a document dated April 14, 1857. 

As cited in the book Mary Young Pickersgill Flag Maker of the Star-Spangled Banner,” the document passed title of Pickersgill’s building to her daughter at the time of her death six months later. It added:

“Also the following described or mentioned Negro slaves for life to wit: Emily aged thirty years, Jane aged twenty four, and Julia aged twenty four years and Maurice boy three years and also all the furniture goods and chattels and effects belonging to me and now in the dwelling house.”

Pickersgill apparently no longer had the unnamed female slave, who would have been older than those who are listed. The new slaves – for whom no last names are listed — were all born subsequent to the making of the Star Spangled Banner. …More Here

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Posted by on September 19, 2016 in American Greed, Black History, Women


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Roland Martin Takes Bill O’Reilly to School on Black Patriotism

This is fun!



Posted by on September 16, 2016 in Black History, Faux News, The Definition of Racism


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How the Second Black Wall Street Died

Tulsa, Oklahoma was considered by many black historians to be the first black Wall Street. It had black owned banks, homes, businesses, and homes. It was destroyed in an act of white genocide when white rioters attacked and burned the town, killed hundreds of black residents, and destroyed the town beyond any hope of recovery.

The second Black Wall Street was Richmond, Virginia. Home of the first black millionaire, Maggie Walker. It met a far different fate – being a victim of the end of Segregation.

The St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond was one of the first black-owned banks in the United States.

The Rise and Fall of Black Wall Street

Richmond was once the epicenter of black finance. What happened there explains the decline of black-owned banks across the country.

On April, 3rd, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech in Memphis. In it, he urged African Americans to put their money in black-owned banks. It wasn’t his most famous line, but the message was clear: “We’ve got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in the Tri-State Bank. We want a ‘bank-in’ movement in Memphis … We begin the process of building a greater economic base.”

The next day, King was assassinated, and his hope of harnessing black wealth remains unfulfilled. Before integration, African Americans in cities like Richmond, Chicago, and Atlanta relied on black community banks, which were largely responsible for providing loans and boosting black businesses, churches, and neighborhoods. After desegregation, black wealth started to hemorrhage from these communities: White-owned banks were forced to open their doors to African Americans and the money that once flowed into black banks and back out to black communities ended up on Wall Street and other banks farther away.

“We started to lose a lot of our businesses and support for our businesses,” says Michael Grant, president of the National Bankers Association, a trade group representing nearly 200 minority and women-owned banks across the United States. “That was the toxic side of integration.” The financial meltdown of 2007 wiped out 40 percent of African American wealth in the United States, killing off many of these already-struggling community banks (they were not part of the big Wall Street bailout). Tri-State Bank in Memphis still exists, but it’s among the few that survived. Only 25 black-owned banks remain in the United States, according to the latest data from the FDIC, compared to 45 a decade ago. At their height, there were more than 100, says Grant.

The decline raises the question of whether these niche banks still have a place in modern America. I visited the Jackson Ward neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia, once dubbed America’s “Black Wall Street” and “the birthplace of black capitalism.” At the turn of the 20th century, it was one of the most prosperous black communities in the United States, with thriving theaters, stores, and medical practices. Richmond is where the first black banks opened, including one chartered to a former schoolteacher named Maggie Walker—the daughter of a freed slave. The St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, which Walker opened in 1903, made loans to qualified borrowers who were shunned by traditional banks, such as black doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs. St. Luke’s would eventually merge with other black banks and become Consolidated Bank and Trust. By the end of the 20th century, the bank was the last black-owned bank in Richmond and was struggling to compete with much bigger banks downtown. It had several troubled loans on its books and couldn’t raise enough capital to stay afloat. In 2005, a Washington, D.C.-based bank bought it, then a West Virginia-based bank took over in 2011 and renamed it Premier Bank. The last bank of “Black Wall Street” was gone.

Premier’s president, Darryl “Rick” Winston, says he too wonders what role black banks will play in the future. He once reviewed loans at Premier Bank when it was still the black-owned Consolidated Bank and Trust. At one point, he says, the bank had $111 million in assets and seven branches. Winston, who is African American, left for a consulting job in 2000, and returned last year to take over as regional president after the buyout. Winston drove me around Jackson Ward, pointing out the shuttered businesses that once made Richmond a bastion of black wealth and culture. “Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong stayed there,” he said, pointing to the former site of the Eggleston Hotel, one of the few upscale lodgings for blacks in the Jim Crow south. As we drove by, a construction crew was busy building a mixed-used complex that will house 31 apartments, 10 townhomes, several stores, and restaurants.

Two blocks away, Premier Bank remains in the same brick building as its predecessor. Much of the bank’s staff is the same. Winston says it’s important to make sure his employees reflect the community they serve, even if it’s no longer a black-owned institution. That’s in part because African American borrowers still face immense bias in the banking and lending industry, he says. “It’s more subtle. A black person goes into a mainstream bank and the loan officer might think of rejecting their application before it’s even complete,” he says.

Racial bias in the lending industry remains all too common, despite legislation aimed at preventing it. In 1992, a landmark study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston examined 4,500 mortgage-loan applications and discovered that black borrowers were twice as likely to get rejected for loans than white borrowers with similar credit histories. More recently, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts found that banks in Boston and across the state of Massachusetts continue to reject black and Latino borrowers for home mortgages at a much higher rate than whites….Read the Rest Here

The author is partially correct. The partial end of segregation did lead to black folks putting their money into white banks. White owned banks offered services, and capabilities the smaller black owned banks couldn’t. But the real destruction of community banking started under Raygun with “deregulation”. the destruction of “brick and mortar laws”, and the changes in the interstate banking laws which allowed the big banks to spread like wildfire across the country, buying out of shuttering small banks.

Now we have banks which are “too big to fail”, and a credit system which segregates by other means.

“deregulation” and “privatization” are nothing more than another means of domestic terrorism and financial genocide against minorities.

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Posted by on September 4, 2016 in Black History, Domestic terrorism


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Georgetown University Atones for Slave Sale

In the early 1800’s Georgetown College which is a Jesuit School ran into financial difficulties. To make up for the financial shortfall, the College sold off all their slaves, who had built the college.

Some of the descendants of those slaves who were sold off by the church, have tracked their ancestry back to that sale.

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James Henry Hicks’ family, Rachael Hicks and her two sons Beverly Hicks (l) and Nance Hicks. Descendants of slaves sold by the University to slaveholders in Louisiana.

Georgetown University to give slave descendants priority in admission

Georgetown University will give preference in admissions to the descendants of slaves owned by the Maryland Jesuits as part of its effort to atone for profiting from the sale of enslaved people.

Georgetown president John DeGioia told news outlets that the university in Washington, D.C., will implement the admissions preferences.

He says Georgetown will need to identify and reach out to descendants of slaves and recruit them to the university.

On Thursday morning, a university committee released a report that also called on its leaders to offer a formal apology for the university’s participation in the slave trade.

The chair of the Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation, David Collins, S.J., says he hopes the university can take full responsibility for its slave benefactors. “As we join the Georgetown community we must understand that part of our history is this history of slaveholding and the slave trade,” he said. “And that opens our eyes to broader social issues that are still unhealed in our nation.

“History matters up to the present and into the future.”

Image result for Georgetown University slaves

In 1789, when the original Georgetown College was founded, Jesuit-owned and -operated plantations in Maryland (which helped fund the new institution) were worked with slave labor. Profits from the plantations were foreseen as a means to fund the new school.

In 1838, two priests who served as president of the university orchestrated the sale of 272 people to pay off the school’s debts. The slaves were sent from Maryland to plantations in Louisiana. The school received $115,000 in the sale, the equivalent of about $3.3 million today.

In response to the committee’s recommendations, President DeGioia today announced several steps that would be taken, including:

  • Offering an apology for the university’s historical relationship with slavery;
  • Renaming university buildings in honor of Isaac (an enslaved person mentioned in the documents of the 1838 sale) and Anne Marie Becraft (a free woman of color who founded a school for black girls, and later joined the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore);
  • Establishing a public memorial to the enslaved;
  • Creating a research institute on the legacy of slavery; and
  • Engaging with descendants of enslaved people once owned by the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, and offering them the same consideration given members of the Georgetown community in the admissions process.

Richard Cellini, an alumnus of Georgetown who has researched the slave sale, told “CBS This Morning” in July he estimates there are between 10,000 and 15,000 descendants of the 272 slaves sold living today.

Image result for Georgetown University slaves

This picture from the Virginia side of the Potomac River shows Georgetown University atop the hill left-center in 1861

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Posted by on September 1, 2016 in Black History, BlackLivesMatter


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