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Book About George Washington’s Slaves Pulled

Some apparently well-meaning authors have gotten into hot water relative their depiction of two of First President George Washington’s slaves.

Scholastic Pulls Children’s Book About George Washington And His Slaves After Outcry

The picture book was strongly criticized for its upbeat images and story of Washington’s cook, the slave Hercules and his daughter, Delia.

Scholastic is pulling a new picture book about George Washington and his slaves amid objections it sentimentalizes a brutal part of American history.

“A Birthday Cake for George Washington” was released Jan. 5 and had been strongly criticized for its upbeat images and story of Washington’s cook, the slave Hercules and his daughter, Delia. Its withdrawal was announced Sunday.

“While we have great respect for the integrity and scholarship of the author, illustrator and editor, we believe that, without more historical background on the evils of slavery than this book for younger children can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn,” the children’s publisher said in a statement released to the AP.

The book, which depicts Hercules and Delia preparing a cake for Washington, has received more than 100 one-star reviews on Amazon.com. As of Sunday evening, only 12 reviews were positive. The book also set off discussions on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere on social media.

While notes in “A Birthday Cake for George Washington” from author Ramin Ganeshram and illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton had pointed out the historical context of the 18th century story and that Hercules eventually escaped, some critics faulted Ganeshram and Brantley-Newton for leaving out those details from the main narrative.

“Oh, how George Washington loves his cake!” reads the publisher’s description of the story. “And, oh, how he depends on Hercules, his head chef, to make it for him. Hercules, a slave, takes great pride in baking the president’s cake. But this year there is one problem — they are out of sugar.”

The trade publication School Library Journal had called it “highly problematic” and recommended against its purchase. Another trade journal, Kirkus Reviews, had labeled the book “an incomplete, even dishonest treatment of slavery.”

In a Scholastic blog post from last week, Ganeshram wrote that the story was based on historical research and meant to honor the slaves’ skill and resourcefulness…

Sunday’s announcement comes amid an ongoing debate about the lack of diversity in publishing, although the collaborators on “A Birthday Cake” come from a variety of backgrounds. Ganeshram is an award-winning journalist and author born to a Trinidadian father and Iranian mother and has a long history of food writing. Her previous works include the novel “Stir It Up” and the nonfiction “FutureChefs.”

Brantley-Newton, who has described herself as coming from a “blended background — African American, Asian, European, and Jewish,” has illustrated the children’s series “Ruby and the Booker Boys” among other books. The editor was Andrea Davis Pinkney, also an author who in 2013 won a Coretta Scott King prize for African-American children’s literature….Read More Here

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2016 in Black History

 

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The War That Never Ended – John Horse and the Seminoles

Met a Seminole Chief many years ago, and got a real education about what was called by the US “The Seminole Wars”, which were actually a 50 year series of battles between the US Government and the Seminoles, and their black allies, sometimes referred to as Black Seminole because some of the leaders of this revolt were black. The longest and most expensive War fought by the US prior to the Civil War, and the most expensive of the “Indian Wars” in terms of GDP by the US. Which never officially ended.

Wiki actually has a reasonably good write-up of this period to get an understanding from the “65.000 ft view”.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2016 in Black History

 

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Leaving Jim Crow – The Great Migration and The Chicago Defender

Great article! It talks about the role of the black press in initiating and sustaining the black migration from the south between 1915 and 1930 – and how the South’s Jim Crow Laws and Lynching fueled that migration.

‘Bound for the Promised Land’

African Americans devised a mass exodus from the Jim Crow South,largely at the urging of The Chicago Defender

In the spring of 1916, incumbent President Woodrow Wilson began a difficult presidential campaign. Wilson was facing a reunified Republican Party and an electorate skeptical of his pledge to keep the United States out of World War I—he was also facing obstacles from the African American electorate, which though small could be decisive in several key states. During his first run for office in 1912, leaders from the African American community had supported Wilson even though he was the son of a Confederate chaplain who, as a historian, had helped manufacture revisionist histories of the post–Civil War years. But black voters now felt betrayed by Wilson’s conduct as president: He segregated the federal government for the first time ever, and he screened the racist film Birth of a Nation in the White House.

Jacob Lawrence

The Chicago Defender, the nation’s leading African American newspaper at the time, was all too happy to heap on the criticism, declaring Wilson a “colossal failure” and challenging his foreign policy—both over the invasion of Haiti the previous year and for sending troops into Mexico to pursue revolutionary leader Pancho Villa. “If President Woodrow Wilson is so anxious to teach the world good morals,” read one editorial on the subject, “let him begin by placing the U.S. Army in the South; institute a chase of the lynchers as earnestly as the one he is now carrying on in Mexico.”

By most measures, the total number of lynchings was, in fact, down from prior years; it was the severity of the incidents that had increased. In May, The Defender printed a letter from a white resident of Waco, Texas, a witness to the horrific murder of a 17-year-old named Jesse Washington. The letter writer was outraged by what he had seen: A mob of “fifteen to twenty-thousand men and women intermingled with children and babies in their arms” gathered to torture Washington and then burn him at the stake. Accused of the murder of a white woman several miles from his home, Washington was convicted by a jury despite scant evidence. Then, as happened all too often, Washington was dragged from the courtroom, hung from a tree, and burned on a funeral pyre. “The crowd was made up of some of the supposed best citizens of the South,” the letter writer noted. “Doctors, lawyers, business men and Christians (posing as such, however). After the fire subsided, the mob was not satisfied: They hacked with pen knives the fingers, the toes, and pieces of flesh from the body, carrying them as souvenirs to their automobiles.” The correspondent went on to conclude that it was absurd to send soldiers to Mexico “when the troops are needed right here in the South.”

This from a collection of letters from the University of Chicago about the Great Migration

See the UC Collection Here

For several years, The Defender had demanded federal intervention as the only meaningful solution to the brutality of Southern whites. But that summer, as hundreds of African Americans arrived at Chicago’s train stations every week,The Defender’s position on the migration northward evolved. In August, under the headline “Southerners Plan to Stop Exodus,” the newspaper reported that recruiters for one of the Pennsylvania-based railroad lines had convinced all of the workers on one steamship line in Jacksonville, Florida, to quit and move to the North en masse, leaving the steamship owners suddenly without a crew. The Jacksonville City Council responded by passing a law requiring labor agents from Northern companies to pay $1,000 for a license.

Incidents like this convinced The Defender’s publisher, Robert Abbott, that migration was at once an effective tactic for hurting the white South and a real opportunity for African Americans to live in freedom. Abbott had experienced discrimination from labor unions himself when he first arrived in Chicago from Georgia less than 20 years earlier, and he had been reluctant to invite his fellows to the city if there were no real job opportunities.  He became positively enthusiastic about migration, however, when he saw the mounting evidence that the departure of African Americans was negatively affecting the Southern economy.

In November, as Woodrow Wilson won a narrow reelection victory, The Defender’s editorial page published “Bound for the Promised Land,” by M. Ward, a then-unknown poet whose portrait photo shows a nattily dressed young man with a satin bow tie. The poem reflects the experiences of those who had already migrated north, found jobs, and sent for their wives, as well as of the Southerners’ efforts to ban the work of Northern labor agents:

From Florida’s stormy banks I’ll go, I’ll bid the South goodbye; No longer will they treat me so, And knock me in the eye,

Hasten on my dark brother, Duck the Jim Crow law.

No Crackers North to slap your mother, or knock you on the jaw.

No Cracker there to seduce your sister, nor to hang you to a limb.

And you’re not obliged to call ’em “Mister,” nor skin ’em back at him.

The poem was so popular that the issue sold out, prompting The Defender to reprint it a few months later. “This poem caused more men to leave the Southland than any other effort,” the newspaper proudly noted….Read the Rest Here

Albert A. Smith “The Reason” Featured in The CRISIS in March 1920

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2016 in Black History

 

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Central Park 5 Rally For Teacher

The Central Park Five case in the early 90’s was a modern day lynching and serves as a template of how young black men are demonized, and ultimately denied justice by racism. The case remains as a Hallmark of racial justice and injustice in the United States on a par with the Scottsboro Boys sham trial and attempted executions.

Recently a NYC High School Teacher made the story of the Central Park 5 part of her lesson plan on history. She was promptly fired.

Central Park Five: Rehire Teacher Allegedly Fired Over Central Park Five Lesson

Administrators reportedly were concerned the lessons would cause “riots” among black students.

Two of the five men who were wrongfully convicted in the 1989 rape and assault of a woman in Central Park have expressed support for a New York City teacher who says she lost her job after teaching students about the case.

“We support her 100 percent,” Raymond Santana, a member of a group known as the Central Park Five, told The Huffington Post. “We’ll probably rally for her — go to the courthouse. I want her to keep doing what she’s doing. I hope this doesn’t discourage her.” He believes the teacher should be reinstated, he added.

Raymond Santana, right, Kevin Richardson, and Yusef Salaam, left, all members of the Central Park Five, react to supporters Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, in New York.

Jeena Lee-Walker, who taught English at the High School of the Arts, Imagination and Inquiry in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, filed a federal lawsuit last week alleging that administrators at the school feared her lessons on the Central Park Five might “rile up” black students and cause small “riots.” They asked her to take a more “balanced” approach in teaching students about the case, her lawsuit claims.

“I was stunned,” Lee-Walker told the Daily News Friday. “I was kind of like, the facts are the facts. This is what happened.”

Students, she told the paper, “and black students in particular, should be riled up.”

Trailer for the Documentary –

Headline From the NY Daily News Creating the Term “Wilding” to describe out o control minority youth. A term which would enter the lexicon after being repeated again and again by periodicals and TV news around the country.

“It was awesome — they were so engaged,” she said of teaching her students about the Central Park Five, adding that they were “really moved” by a 2012 documentaryon the subject. “They really identified with the teenagers.”

Lee-Walker says she received a series of bad performance reviews, and was ultimately fired, in retaliation for pushing back against criticism from administrators over her Central Park Five lessons.

Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Korey Wise — all black and Latino men — were all under 16 years old when they were each arrested in 1989 for the beating and rape of Trisha Melli, a 28-year-old investment banker. The brutal attack dominated headlines, with the city’s tabloids stirring racially charged fears of “wilding” groups of violent black and Latino teenagers across the city.

Police zeroed in on the five teens, all of whom had reportedly been in or near Central Park at the time of the attack.

Each teen confessed to the crime during 24 hours of interrogation, but later claimed their statements had been coerced by police. They were all nevertheless convicted and sentenced to prison in 1990. (At the time, billionaire businessman and current Republican front-runner Donald Trump called for their execution.)

Santana, McCray, Salaam and Richardson each spent nearly six years in prison. Wise spent nearly 13 years in prison.

The convictions against the men were vacated in 2002 after a New York inmate named Matias Reyes confessed to raping Melli. Then-Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau announced that DNA evidence from the crime scene matched Reyes’ DNA.

In 2014, the city agreed to pay the five men a total of $40 million to settle a federal lawsuit they had filed. …Read the rest Here

 
 

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Travelling During Jim Crow

As a kid growing up during Segregation, I attended a segregated elementary school. My parents were both teachers, and every summer meant an adventure travelling somewhere by car or train to one or the other location across the US. I got to see the Tetons, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and many of the great sights around the country as part of these trips. I recall my parents planning such trips, including stopovers at cities or towns along the way. We often stayed with relatives, if any were located in a town or city along the way, in a reciprocal agreement among family members.

Cruise Boat at Tappahannock Dock

The day of the trip, I remember my Mother always packing a cooler with drinks and food. In Virginia, along the old Rt 1, and a number of other Highways such as Rt 29 heading towards Charlottesville there were frequent pullovers with picnic tables and grills. Since the Restaurants were segregated, these provided places for black families to stop and picnic along the way, such as to avoid unknown towns where there may or may not have been facilities where they were allowed to eat. Travelling out of state, to except the big cities was an exercise in planning to find the “black community area” where there would be Motels and eateries for black folks. There were guides published by several enterprising outfits which listed black owned (and therefore safe) businesses in the various towns and cities. Headed south to my mother’s home, we always stopped in a certain town for gas or food. That town was Taphannock, Virginia – which at one point enjoyed a bustling black owned business environment supported in part by Casino Boats which plied the river.

So there were places to eat, stay, and the local gas station would sell you gas (for the most part).

I never saw a Green Book, but I saw several similar publications during that time. We never traveled South – so I have no idea how conditions were in the Southeast.

 

 

The forgotten way African Americans stayed safe in a racist America

For African American travelers, much of the U.S. could be a hateful and dangerous place, even into the 1960’s.

Jim Crow laws across the South mandated that restaurants, hotels, pool halls and parks strictly separate whites and blacks. Lynchings kept blacks in fear of mob violence. And there were  thousands of so-called “sundown towns,”including in northern states like Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan, which barred blacks after dark, an unofficial rule reinforced by the threat of violence.

So in 1936, a postal worker named Victor Green began publishing a guide to help African American travelers find friendly restaurants, auto shops and accommodations in far-off places. Green dubbed the guide after himself – the “Green Book” – and published it for decades. Green says he was inspired by the Jewish press, which had long published information on restricted places.

The images below come from the New York Public Library, which recently digitized 21 volumes of the Green Book, from 1937 to 1964.

Jim Crow laws across the South mandated that restaurants, hotels, pool halls and parks strictly separate whites and blacks. Lynchings kept blacks in fear of mob violence. And there were thousands of so-called “sundown towns,” including in northern states like Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan, which barred blacks after dark, an unofficial rule reinforced by the threat of violence.

So in 1936, a postal worker named Victor Green began publishing a guide to help African American travelers find friendly restaurants, auto shops and accommodations in far-off places. Green dubbed the guide after himself – the “Green Book” – and published it for decades. Green says he was inspired by the Jewish press, which had long published information on restricted places.

The images above come from the New York Public Library, which recently digitized 21 volumes of the Green Book, from 1937 to 1964.
The Green Book included listings for hotels, restaurants, gas stations, bars and beauty salons across the U.S., as well as travel articles, paid advertisements, and stories about local attractions. The guide first focused on New York, but was gradually expanded to cover the whole U.S. The first edition said on its cover, “Let’s all get together and make motoring better,” while the 1949 edition featured a quote from Mark Twain – “Travel is fatal to prejudice.”

While poverty and discrimination kept many African Americans from owning cars, a new black middle class rose up in the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s, and many of them were eager to escape poor treatment on public transportation.

Yet car ownership came with its own challenges. Many African Americans would pack meals, blankets and gasoline in their cars on trips in case they ended up somewhere where they wouldn’t be served or didn’t want to ask.

Green Books were sold at Esso service stations, one of the few gas station chains that served African Americans. The first edition retailed for a quarter, and Green soon upped the price to 75 cents.

Though the Green Book was a life-saving tool at the time, it’s also a vivid reminder of just how discrimination and prejudice made — and still make — the world much smaller and less free.

Though Green’s list was far from comprehensive, many states have only a handful of listings, and the guesthouses and motels featured in the photos look small and somewhat shabby today.

In the introduction to the 1949 edition, Green writes: “There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published.”

“That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment. But until that time comes we shall continue to publish this information for your convenience each year.”

The last edition, published in 1963, was an international edition which described itself as a guide to “vacation without aggravation.” Green died in 1960, and the book gradually lost some relevance after the creation of a national highway system in 1956, which meant travelers no longer ventured as much into cities and towns, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination in hotels, restaurants and other public accommodations…See More including interactive maps here

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2016 in Black History

 

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Nina Simone Interview 1968 – On Black Pride

Blast for the past! The shadow of the events of 1968 still afflict America. The serial murders of both King and Kennedy, the rise of the right – and “The War”.

Nina Simone Talks Black Pride in This Rare, Beautifully Animated Interview From 1968

Through the ’60s and ’70s, Nina Simone essentially soundtracked the American civil rights movement, emerging as one of the era’s most brilliant, bluntly political artists, and one who was reluctant to speak to white interviewers for fear of misrepresentation. A rare exception to that rule came in 1968, when European jazz singer Lilian Terry talked with the legend at her home in Mt. Vernon.

That interview, which never aired in the United States, has been beautifully animated in the latest installment of Blank on Blank. In it, Simone and Terry start with some light, discursive chat before segueing into a sober discussion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s recent assassination. Simone concludes by noting that “it’s a lot of hell and a lot of violence, but I feel more alive now than I ever have in my life.”

 

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Denied Valor of Black WWII Soldier(s)

One of the thigs they ignore in all of the movies about D-Day is black troops were there. Hitting Omaha beach in the first waves was the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion A Company made up of roughly 500 men. At Utah Beach were  the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion Company B, 582nd Engineer Dump Truck Company, the 385th Quartermaster Truck Company, and the 490th Port Battalion with its 226th, 227th, 228th, and 229th Port Companies made up of 1200 men. Supporting the British at Gold Beach were 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion Company C.

‘Negro’ D-Day Hero Overlooked for Medal of Honor

The faded, type-written piece of paper was buried in a box of 70-year-old documents at a presidential archive, but after it was recently unearthed, the fragile paper shined a spotlight on what a history detective called an injustice that lingers on from the Second World War – that of some black heroes who fought, but were forgotten.

“Here is a Negro from Philadelphia who has been recommended for a suitable award… This is a big enough award so that the President can give it personally, as he has in the case of some white boys,” stated the 1944 U.S. War Department memo to the Franklin D. Roosevelt White House.

The memo was written about Army Cpl. Waverly Woodson, Jr., and the “suitable award” important enough for Roosevelt to consider personally giving Woodson was the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award given for valor. It would recognize his heroic actions as a combat medic on Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944, during the first hours of the Allies’ D-Day invasion of Europe.

But Woodson, who was black, never received the Medal of Honor or the Distinguished Service Cross, the military’s second-highest honor. Now his family, with the help of the author of a new book on his unit and a sympathetic congressman, are trying to restore and highlight a page erased from the history of the Greatest Generation by requesting the Medal of Honor be finally given to him.

“It’s never too late. It’s always possible to right a wrong. We need to let the future generations know what happened in World War II. The younger generation doesn’t even know what World War II was,” Woodson’s widow, Joann, told ABC News in an interview on Tuesday, two days before President Obama is scheduled to bestow a Medal of Honor on a veteran of the War in Afghanistan.

Joann’s late husband, who went by “Woody” and died a decade ago, had been a combat medic with the Army’s all-black segregated 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion and saved dozens, if not hundreds, of troops on the battle-ripped landing area known as Omaha Beach, the stretch of coastline that saw the worst fighting on D-Day. Instead of the highest distinction or the DSC, he received the Bronze Star Medal, the fourth-highest individual military honor.

No records have survived to explain why Woodson was denied a White House ceremony presided over by FDR to receive the Medal of Honor. But one fact remains: not one of the hundreds of thousands of African-Americans who served during World War II received the Medal of Honor at the time.

It wasn’t until 1997 that seven black troops from World War II were given the Medal of Honor by President Clinton, but Woodson was not among them. Woodson, like 16-18 million other soldiers, lost all of his military records in the infamous 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.

That is, until the Philleo Nash memo was discovered.

“It was tucked in voluminous folders inside dusty boxes,” Linda Hervieux, author of the new book, “Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and Overseas,” told ABC News in an interview.

It was Hervieux who discovered the 1944 memo at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. It was written by War Department aide Philleo Nash to a colleague, which is the only surviving record known to exist regarding Woodson, who was described in newspapers that served the African-American community in 1944 as the “No. 1 Invasion Hero.” Hervieux spent five years researching her book on Woodson and his outfit, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion.

Nash was an assistant director in the Office of War Information and wrote the typed page as a memo to Jonathan Daniels, a Roosevelt White House aide. Nash wrote that Woodson’s commanding officer had recommended him for the Distinguished Service Cross, but the office of U.S. Gen. John C. H. Lee in Britain had upgraded the recommendation to the highest decoration.

“Something happened between his commanders deciding he should get the Distinguished Service Cross and be upgraded to the Medal of Honor, but we don’t know what because those records are no longer there,” Hervieux said. “But Waverly Woodson’s heroics on Omaha Beach were clearly ignored and forgotten because the Army was racist to its core.”

Woodson’s little-known Barrage Balloon Battalion was responsible for hoisting huge balloons on the front lines of Normandy, France in an effort to deter German fighter planes from strafing or dive-bombing the infantry, Hervieux recounts in her book.

As a combat medic in the battalion, Woodson fought to save wounded and dying American troops, black and white alike, he was hit by shrapnel in the leg and buttocks but kept working.

“At that time,” Woodson once told an interviewer, “they didn’t care what color my skin was.”

In her book, Hervieux writes, “Throughout the day and night and into the next day, Woodson worked through his pain to save lives. He pulled out bullets, patched gaping wounds, and dispensed blood plasma. He amputated a right foot.”

Hervieux describes Woodson as the 320th’s “undisputed hero,” continuing to save lives during the invasion assault despite being seriously wounded by shrapnel. (When a mine blew up next to the landing craft he was on) After another medic slapped a dressing on his leg, Woodson later recalled wisecracking, “Close. Mighty close.”

Then, after resuscitating another four drowning men, 30 hours after he landed on Omaha Beach, Hervieux said Woodson “collapsed.”

His widow, Joann, now 86 herself, said she married a hero, even if discrimination in the era of Jim Crow left him forgotten by history for decades.

“That’s the kind of man he was,” Joann Woodson told ABC News on Tuesday from her home in Clarksburg, Maryland. “He was dedicated. Under fire, I don’t think he thought about it — his own safety.”

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2015 in Black History

 

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