Tag Archives: American

What a Slavery Museum Teaches…

History forgotten is history repeated. The Atlantic doesn’t quite get it right about the Whitney Museum being the first and “only”.

Why America Needs a Slavery Museum

The Whitney Plantation near Wallace, Louisiana, is the first and only U.S. museum and memorial to slavery. While other museums may include slavery in their exhibits, the Whitney Plantation is the first of its kind to focus primarily on the institution. John Cummings, a 78-year-old white southerner, has spent 16 years and more than $8 million of his own fortune to build the project, which opened in December of last year.

Cummings, a successful trial attorney, developed the museum with the help of his full-time director of research, Ibrahima Seck. The duo hope to educate people on the realities of slavery in its time and its impact in the United States today. “The history of this country is rooted in slavery,” says Seck. “If you don’t understand the source of the problem, how can you solve it?”

Slave Memorial at George Washington’s Mount Vernon marking the unmarked graves of slaves buried next to the Family Burial plot.


Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Black History


Tags: , , , ,

Black Knight

Three boyhood friends, now serving in the US Military helped prevent a mass murder last weekend by a Islamic Terrorist in France. Yesterday, they, along with a fourth British Citizen were made French Knights for their heroism.

Americans become French knights

One of the Americans who prevented a bloodbath on a high-speed European train serves in the Air Force. Another is in the Oregon National Guard. On Monday, the enlisted men became knights, along with two others who took part in the rescue, as French President François Hollande made them Chevaliers of the Legion of Honor, awarding them France’s highest decoration.

In a solemn ceremony held in France’s glittering Elysée Palace, the seat of the presidency, Hollande said the four men had averted a catastrophe when they tackled and trussed a heavily armed man who had opened fire on the train.

The men have resisted being labeled as heroes, saying that they gave little thought to their actions until after the heat of the moment. At the ceremony, the trio of Americans, friends since childhood, dressed modestly in polo shirts and khakis. But Hollande said their coolness under fire was a lesson to all of France — and the world.

“You have shown that in the face of terror, you can resist,” Hollande said before he pinned the ribbons on the men’s chests. “So you have given us a lesson of courage, of determination and therefore of hope.”

“There were over 500 passengers on that train. Ayoub el-Khazzani possessed over 300 bullets. And we realize now how close we were to a tragedy and a massacre,” Hollande said, formally identifying the suspect in the shooting for the first time, a Moroccan man just short of his 26th birthday.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 24, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Uncle Ben Carson Defends Trump – Claims the Incarcerated Love the Luxury Life in Prison

The Clown Bus has a full head of steam up as it’s candidate pool tries desperately  to find yet another segment of the American Population that hasn’t been insulted. Last week it was The Donald pissing off the entire Armed Services on his read the John McCain (and by extension any of the American Soldiers who had been captured and tortured during the Vietnam War) wasn’t really a hero…Because the enemy had captured him. Never mind that you can see the evidence today of his 5 years of being beaten and abused.

Now, the requisite, honorary Black Clown candidate in the Republican candidate pool mouths off, not only defending Trump – but going further to say that prisons are so cushy in the US, that the incarcerated don’t want to leave!

I’d love to see the good Doctor spend a week in a SuperMax…And tell everyone about the Health Spa.

One of the many truly stupid things said by Carson.


Ben Carson defends Donald Trump

Retired neurosurgeon and presidential candidate Ben Carson said Tuesday that he thinks the focus on Donald Trump’s recent incendiary comments is “petty” and that the real estate mogul has no reason to drop out of the 2016 race.

“For us to get caught up in a controversy of well, ‘What did Donald Trump mean when he said that?’ — It just seems so petty to me,” Carson told reporters after speaking to a group of teenage Republicans in Arlington, Va.

[Poll: Trump surges to big lead in GOP presidential race]

Several Republican presidential contenders have said Trump should be disqualified from the presidential race for saying that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is not a war hero. Carson disagreed.

“I’m not sure from listening to what he said that he think that Mr. McCain is not a hero,” Carson said. “He has repeatedly said yes, he is a hero, so I don’t know where that comes from that he’s disqualified.”

In the interview in which he said McCain was not a war hero, Trump also said that the Vietnam veteran held in prisoner for five and a half years was “perhaps … a war hero” and “a war hero because he was captured.”…

In addressing the young Republicans, Carson also said that he, like President Obama, had visited a federal prison.

“I was flabbergasted by the accommodations — the exercise equipment, the libraries and the computers,” he said. He said he was told that “a lot of times when it’s about time for one of the guys to be discharged, especially when its winter, they’ll do something so they can stay in there.”

At the same time, Carson said that too many Americans are going to prison.

“We’re not doing things the right way,” he said. “A lot of people that we incarcerate don’t need to be incarcerated.”

After the event, he elaborated.

“I think that we need to sometimes ask ourselves, ‘Are we creating an environment that is conducive to comfort where a person would want to stay, versus an environment where we maybe provide them an opportunity for rehabilitation but is not a place that they would find particularly comfortable?'” he told reporters…

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 22, 2015 in Black Conservatives


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ida B. Wells

Google’s search art was in tribute to Ida B. Wells. If you had gone to the search page, you will see this image –

Fearless Journalist And All-Round Badass Ida B. Wells Honored With Google Doodle

Doodle celebrates the civil rights activist’s 153rd birthday.

When Ida B. Wells was 22, she was asked by a conductor of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Company to give up her seat on the train to a white man. She refused, and the conductor attempted to forcibly drag her out of her seat.

Wells wouldn’t budge.

“The moment he caught hold of my arm I fastened my teeth in the back of his hand,” shewrote in her autobiography. “I had braced my feet against the seat in front and was holding to the back, and as he had already been badly bitten he didn’t try it again by himself. He went forward and got the baggageman and another man to help him and of course they succeeded in dragging me out.”

The year was 1884 — about 70 years before Rosa Parks would refuse to give up her seat on an Alabama bus.

Ida B. Wells from the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery

Wells’ life was full of such moments of courage and principle. Born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1862, Wells was a vocal civil rights activist, suffragist and journalist who dedicated her life to fighting inequality.

On July 16, Wells’ 153rd birthday, Google honored the “fearless and uncompromising” woman with a Doodle of her typing away on typewriter, a piece of luggage by her side.

“She was a fierce opponent of segregation and wrote prolifically on the civil injustices that beleaguered her world. By twenty-five she was editor of the Memphis-based Free Speech and Headlight, and continued to publicly decry inequality even after her printing press was destroyed by a mob of locals who opposed her message,” Google wrote in tribute of Wells.

The journalist would go on to work for Chicago’s Daily Inter Ocean and the Chicago Conservator, one of the oldest African-American newspapers in the country. As Google notes, she “also travelled and lectured widely, bringing her fiery and impassioned rhetoric all over the world.”

Wells married Chicago attorney Ferdinand Barrett in 1895. She insisted on keeping her own name, becoming Ida Wells-Barnett — a radical move for the time. The couple had four children.

Wells died in Chicago of kidney failure in 1931. She was 68.

Every year around her birthday, Holly Springs celebrates Wells’ life with a weekend festival. Mayor Kelvin Buck said at this year’s event that people often overlook “the historic significance of Ida B. Wells in the history of the civil rights struggle in the United States,” per the South Reporter.

The South is brutalized to a degree not realized by its own inhabitants, and the very foundation of government, law and order, are imperilled.

“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”
Ida B. Wells-Barnett




Leave a comment

Posted by on July 16, 2015 in Black History, Giant Negros


Tags: , , , , ,

Oldest Living Veteran Credits Whiskey and Cigars…

Richard Overton of Austin, Texas is currently the oldest living WWII Veteran at 107 years of age.

H credits his longevity to whiskey and cigars!

Would that be Jim Beam, or George Dickel, sir?


Oldest Living Veteran Cites Whiskey, Cigars, ‘Staying Out Of Trouble’ As Key To Longevity

Richard Overton, who at 107-years-old is America’s oldest living veteran on record, was honored last week at a Veterans Day ceremony in Austin, Texas. In addition to a standing ovation, Overton received a box of cigars — a vice that he cites as a key ingredient in his recipe for longevity.

Overton takes no medicine, except for aspirin. Instead, he smokes cigars — up to 12 a day, he told Fox News this spring — and drinks whiskey with his morning coffee. The secret to living long, he told the Houston Chronicle, is “staying out of trouble.”

“I also stay busy around the yards, I trim trees, help with the horses,” he told Fox. “The driveways get dirty, so I clean them. I do something to keep myself moving. I don’t watch television.”

Overton served in the Army during World War II in Hawaii, Guam, Palau and Iwo Jima. He now lives in Austin.

On Sunday, Overton was set to be honored in Washington, D.C. by President Barack Obama as part of the White House’s Veterans Day festivities. According to KEYE TV, Overton was scheduled to have breakfast with the president and Vice President Joe Biden, and then attend a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Ceremony.

“The president wants me to come with him,” Overton said. “I’m su

rprised he called me.”

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 11, 2013 in Black History


Tags: , , , , ,

Foreign Adoption of American Children

Usually people think of Americans adopting children from other parts of the world. Increasingly…

It’s the other way around.

Seventy Dutch families who adopted U.S. kids gather for an annual Fathers Day picnic in June. The majority of the children being adopted are African American.

Overseas adoptions rise — for black American children

 Elisa van Meurs grew up with a Polish au pair, speaks fluent Dutch and English and loves horseback riding — her favorite horse is called Kiki but she also rides Pippi Longstocking, James Bond, and Robin Hood.

She plays tennis and ice hockey, and in the summer likes visiting her grandmother in the Swiss Alps.

“It’s really nice to go there because you can walk in the mountains and you can mountain bike … you can see Edelweiss sometimes,” said the 13-year-old, referring to the famous mountain flower that blooms above the tree line.

It’s a privileged life unlike that of her birth mother, a woman of African American descent from Indianapolis who had her first child at age 15. Her American family is “really nice but they don’t have a lot of money to do stuff,” said Elisa, who met her birth mother, and two siblings in 2011. “They were not so rich.”

Elisa van Meurs with her adoptive parents Bart and Heleene van Meurs on vacation in Switzerland.

While the number of international adoptions is plummeting — largely over questions surrounding the origin of children put up for adoption in developing countries — there is one nation from which parents abroad can adopt a healthy infant in a relatively short time whose family history and medical background is unclouded by doubt: The United States.

“I thought it was so strange. I’m here in Holland and they’re telling me I can get a baby” from the U.S., recalled Elisa’s father, Bart van Meurs, who originally planned to adopt from China or Colombia but held little hope of receiving an infant. “This can’t be true.” But less than 18 months later, van Meurs and his wife Heleene were at an Indiana hospital holding four-day-old Elisa.

While the typical tale of international adoption is U.S. families adopting a child from abroad, foreign families like the van Meurs adopt scores of U.S. children each year. The numbers are far lower than the thousands of overseas children adopted each year by U.S. families, but over the past decade the number of U.S. children adopted by foreign parents has been steadily rising — and almost all of the children are of African American descent like Elisa, say attorneys who facilitate international adoptions.

U.S. laws that allow birth mothers to choose the adoptive family of their children feed that growth, as some prefer to see their kids grow up in an exotic overseas locale rather than the U.S., experts say.

“A family from Indiana might talk about taking their child on vacation to Florida, to Disneyworld. A Dutch family talks about taking their child on vacation to the south of France or the Alps,” said Steven Kirsh of Kirsh & Kirsh, an Indianapolis law firm that has helped place hundreds of children with families in Europe.

Escape from racism

When Susan, a Florida resident, chose to place her son for adoption in 2006, the social worker gave her three binders with information about three prospective families. But she only needed to see the first binder of a couple from the Netherlands to make her decision. “If my mother had lived, she’d look just like (the prospective Dutch mother),” recalled the 37 year old, who asked that her last name not be used. Her own mother died when she was two months old.

Susan also wanted her son to grow up far away from the life she knew. She was a 30-year-old prostitute addicted to crack beginning a prison sentence when she learned she was pregnant. She did not know whether the child’s father was a man who raped her “for hours” or a drug dealer whom she “had done something with” one time, she said. But both men were African American, and she believed the child would face discrimination growing up in the United States.

“There’s too much prejudice over here. The white people are going to hate him because he’s half black, and the majority of black people are going to hate on him because he’s half white,” said Susan, who is Caucasian. “And then he’ll have to do extra things to prove what kind of a Negro he is, and extra things to prove what kind of a honky he is and I don’t want that. I did not want that for my kid.”

Even her own daughter, then aged 11, said “she would never accept that n***** child.”

Susan is not alone, says Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Donaldson Adoption Institute and author of “Adoption Nation.” Many birth mothers have a perception that their black or mixed-race children will not face the same race issues in the Netherlands as in the United States.

“In the United States, as much as Americans want to believe it’s not true, we are still a country where there is a least some degree of racial prejudice. The birth mothers’ perception of Holland, in particular, was that the same was not true in Holland. There’s that feeling that maybe we can escape those issues if (the child is) somewhere else.”

This past June on Father’s Day, about 70 Dutch families who have adopted children from the U.S. gathered at a park outside Amsterdam. The picnic is a time for the children to celebrate their American heritage: “The kids are dressed with a red, white and blue beret in her hair, if it’s a girl, (or) they’re wearing New York Yankees t-shirts,” said Michael Goldstein, a New York attorney who facilitated the adoptions of the picnic attendees.

Among the families were Marielle van den Biggelaar, a stay-at-home mom and her husband, Marnix, a sales manager for a women’s clothing brand, who adopted their two children, Eva, four, and two-year-old Norbert as babies from Florida and New York, respectively. “For the kids it’s really important to see that they’re not alone and that all these kids have the same history, and they’re all adopted and they’re all from the same country,” Marielle said.

“It’s really nice to see them all together and to talk to each other about experiences — with their hair and with their skin — and they’re all the same people with the same mindset, so it’s really fun for the kids and for us, as well.”

The couple encourages their children to embrace their American origins, celebrating Thanksgiving each year with other families who adopted children from the United States. “We try to tell them about their culture and about their background,” said Marielle, who decided to adopt after years of unsuccessful fertility treatment. “We would love them to (start speaking) English when they’re really young because if they want to go back (to America) and if they want to see where they’re born, it would be nice if they can speak to … their parents if they are going to meet them.”

Their children stand out in Het Gooi, a village about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Amsterdam. “They’re famous here, where we live, because it’s a really white society,” Marielle said…. (more)


Leave a comment

Posted by on September 17, 2013 in The Post-Racial Life


Tags: , , , , , ,

Oscar Alert! – 12 Years a Slave

This one has the Film Critics atwitter after the Toronto Film Festival. It is a film depiction of the true story of Solomon Northup, born a free man, who was abducted and enslaved in the pre-Civil War US.  Unlike the fictitious Django – the film is based on a book on the real-life experiences of the author, Solomon Northup, by the same name. The book is the 1853 autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped in Washington D.C in 1841 and sold into slavery. He worked on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before his release.

The other big plus to this one, is that it sticks to historical truth – unlike The Butler, where the Director chose to “spice up” the story, having the central character born in Georgia – instead of Virginia. Met Mr Allen at a Christmas Party at the White House in 1976. I remember him distinctly because of being introduced by a family friend ho was a chef there – and a conversation about the “honesty” and racial feelings of the various Presidents he had served under to that time with the Master chef. Now – gay people may have “gaydar” – but black folks have “racedar” – that is reading the body language and reactions of a white person they interact with. One of the things Allen said was to keep an eye on whether when then new President Carter came downstairs to greet the staff, whether he looked them in the eye while shaking hands (or even shook their hands, which Nixon would not do). He then went on to say that despite the common belief that Eisenhower hated black folks – when he shook your hand he looked you straight in the eye regardless of race. which said a lot more about the man than any Monday morning quarterbacks in the press. I broke into the conversation and asked him which did… And which didn’t. He told me a story totally confounding my then 70’s belief set.

I think back on that brief conversation and recall a quote from Martin Luther King…

Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.

I wish the movie was about that.

And unlike the movie – NO –  Ronald Reagan was no racist. Although unfortunately several of his senior staff, like Ed Meese, were sheet wearers.

TIFF 13: Did Steve McQueen’s ’12 Years a Slave’ just change the game?

TORONTO — Brad Pitt didn’t say much during the question-and-answer session that followed the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of “12 Years a Slave” on Friday night, just a short comment on why he produced and co-starred in the Steve McQueen period drama.

But, like his turn as an abolitionist-minded maverick amid a group of brutal slaveowners, Pitt spoke volumes as he stood on the stage with cast and filmmakers. “If I never get to participate in a film again,” he said, his voice trailing off as if to imply this would be enough, “this is it for me,” he finally finished.

It’s a sentiment you could imagine the lead cast members —Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o and of course Chiwetel Eijiofor, standing out amid the standouts — sharing with Pitt. And it’s a sentiment you could imagine the audience feeling. Festivals come and go; movies rise and fade. But once in a great while there’s a film that feels almost instantly, in the room, like it’s going to endure, and change plenty of things along the way. And “12 Years” offers that feeling.

Director Steve McQueen (r) and co-Lead Actor Michael Fassbender (l).

Most narrowly, that’s true on Oscar level. By 9 p.m. Friday night, just six days into September, the film had already become a top contender for various acting, writing and directing prizes, as well as the big prize. You could say that’s premature. But you probably wouldn’t if you sat in the room. (Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan certainly didn’t hold back.)

It’s equally true on a social level. “12 Years” tells the fact-based story of Solomon Northup (Eijiofor), a free man who in 1841 was kidnapped and sold into slavery, and his travails — at once horrifying and surprising, no matter how much you think you’re ready for them — when he is trafficked to a series of Southern plantations for more than a decade.

The movie has many of the hallmarks McQueen has become known for — the meticulous composition, the bold and haunting sequences — but, far more than previous films “Hunger” and“Shame,” it has a galvanizing topicality. (For more on “12 Years” and how it was made see my colleague John Horn’s excellent piece in the Sunday Times.)

It also has the kind of bracing honesty that has always been rare in Hollywood and is even rarer these days, a Hollywood where, if tough issues are taken on at all, it’s under the garb of respectful period drama or easy sentiment.

Slavery is pretty much at the top of that list of tough issues. With films like “Django Unchained” and “Lincoln,“ the subject has have become slightly less taboo in the past few years — but only slightly.“Roots” broke new ground on TV more than three decades ago, yet few have followed in its path. McQueen is finally willing to pick up the trail.

But maybe that feeling of change was most apparent because the movie went beyond its ostensible subject of race and the fight for emancipation. After the screening, several people I was sitting near began comparing the movie, favorably, to other films about race. A worthwhile comparison. But the film also evoked parallels to a more unexpected movie, “Schindler’s List.” Exactly 20 years ago that film paired impressive filmmaking with a wrenching subject, and in so doing achieved something remarkable — used cinema to change the way we view a cataclysmic period we thought we knew. “12 Years” has the  power to do the same thing.

As this movie rolls out this fall, people will talk about the questions it raises, about the evolution of race relations, about what it’s saying on the matter of slavery, whether nearly 150 years after the end of the Civil War there is resolution or closure, whether there can ever be resolution or closure.

And there will be, inevitably, a backlash, people who will question the choices McQueen made, will scrutinize whether this detail softpedals the history or that detail overplays it, whether he went too far or not far enough, whether he fetishizes too much or too little.

Mostly, people will talk about slavery in a way they haven’t before because by seeing the film they’ll experience it in a way they never have before. McQueen on Friday summed up his reason for making a movie about slavery thusly: “For me it was a no-brainer. I just wanted to see it on film. I wanted to see that history on film. It was important. It was that obvious. And that’s it,” he said, putting a period on the sentence. But the conversation is only just beginning.

BTx3 is going to see this one. This one strikes a personal chord as part of my own family fought re-enslavement after the Revolutionary War for near 50 years. While no letters or material from those family members still exist (although there are a few pictures), there is ample evidence in court documents from 1790 through 1840 which document the trail… Including 4 court cases where slavers tried to claim various members of he family were escaped slaves. A decades long struggle which by a bit more than just local legend included several killings.

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 7, 2013 in Black History


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 204 other followers