This is fun!
My father was a Historian. In developing for a book he did research at the Library of Congress. Got to go with him several times, and it is an awesome, if somewhat overwhelming place. In those days, they really didn’t know what they had there. You could spend decades trying to wade though even a small portion of it.
Carla Hayden, a career librarian who grew up in Chicago and kept Baltimore’s libraries open during last year’s civic unrest, was sworn in Wednesday as the 14th Librarian of Congress, becoming the first woman and the first African-American to lead the national library.
Hayden, 64, was the longtime CEO of Baltimore’s library system. She was nominated last year by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate to head the Library of Congress. She will serve a 10-year term, a change from her predecessors, for whom the position was considered a lifetime appointment.
Hayden was sworn in Wednesday by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, with her hand on Abraham Lincoln’s Bible. It’s part of the library’s collection and was used by Obama at his inauguration.
“As a descendant of people who were denied the right to read, to now have the opportunity to serve and lead the institution that is the national symbol of knowledge, is a historic moment,” Hayden said to applause from a crowd that included numerous members of Congress and actor and literacy advocate LeVar Burton, the longtime host of “Reading Rainbow.”
Among her goals is to move aggressively to digitize precious material in the library’s collection of 162 million items, the largest in the world, and she said she plans to seek corporate sponsorships and philanthropic contributions to aid those efforts. The library has an annual budget of $640 million.
“Digitizing … is rather expensive and labor-intensive,” she told The Associated Press in an interview after the swearing-in. “You can’t just take a photo and say, ‘Here, we’ll just put it up.’”
In addition to serving the American public’s research needs, the library has a professional staff that does research for Congress, and it oversees the U.S. Copyright Office. The library’s properties include a massive underground vault in Culpeper, Virginia, where audio and visual material is stored.
Hayden becomes just the third professional librarian to lead the Library of Congress. Her predecessor, James Billington, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and served for 28 years, was a Russia scholar.
“She’s a pro. She knows what she’s doing,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said at the ceremony.
Although he was well-liked on Capitol Hill, Billington was criticized for failing to keep up with advances in technology in a series of increasingly scathing reports from the Government Accountability Office...Read the Rest Here…
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.
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.
Only took about 200 years to recognize that Crispus Attucks as one of the first to fall at the brewing revolution to form America. SO why are we surprised it has taken another 50 to recognize the contribution of black folks, both slave and free to the Revolution?
A central myth of American history teaching is that the American Revolution was fought for the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” of each person. By each, Jefferson sadly meant mainly white farmers. This patriotic myth—what I call a Founding Amnesia—drove Frederick Douglass, in 1852, to declare that the Fourth of July was not for slaves.
But perhaps in contrast to its long history of racist exclusion, the Daughters of the American Revolution should first honor black Patriots. As Georg Daniel Flohr, a German private who fought at the decisive battle Yorktown with the French Royal Deux-Ponts for the Patriots, noted while walking around the field of battle the next day: “all over the place and wherever you looked, corpses… lying about that had not been buried; the larger part of these were Mohren [Moors, blacks].”
And as I emphasize in Black Patriots and Loyalists (2012), the acme of freedom in the American Revolution was the gradual emancipation of slaves in Vermont (not yet a state) in 1777, in Pennsylvania in 1780, in Massachusetts in 1782, in Connecticut and Rhode Island in 1784, in New York in 1799, and in New Jersey in 1804. If we ask the central question in American history: how did there come to be a free North to oppose bondage in the Civil War, the answer is, surprisingly: gradual emancipation during and just after the American Revolution. Thus, black Patriots and their white abolitionist allies played a central, undiscussed role both in battle and in the deepening of American freedom.
Finally, why did the man believed to be the first martyr of the American Revolution, Crispus Attucks, an escaped slave of black and Native American parentage who became a sailor, fiercely take on the Redcoats in the Boston Massacre? Attucks is part of a complex history that reveals how much the Revolutionary War and the Fourth of July are a day that belongs to African Americans.
1. The violent fight against Imperial press-gangs
The first part of this story is the emergence of a violent revolutionary movement of self-defense among sailors in the 18th century. The Imperial Navy needed bodies for its expanding empire. But the crown had never relied on volunteers. Instead, it sent armed gangs to kidnap people at sea or in the street. But people did not go willingly. All around the Atlantic—in Antigua, Jamaica, Halifax, and Boston, for example—there were 604 uprisings against these royal gangs in the 18th century.
Sailors often defended themselves with pikes or muskets. Soldiers and sailors were killed in such raids.
The greatest of these uprisings was a three day battle in Boston against Admiral Knowles’s gangs in 1746. In the Independent Advertiser in 1747, Sam Adams wrote that multiracial, multinational movement against press-gangs was a driving force in making a free regime: “All Men are by nature on a Level: born with an equal Share of Freedom, and endow’d with Capacities nearly alike.”Whole communities rebelled against the gangs. Women, left behind, were called “Impressment widows.” Mary Jones, an Irish teenager, and her children starved after her husband was taken during the Falklands war scare of 1770. Mary was arrested for shoplifting a small piece of muslin. Suckling one of her children even as the noose was put around her neck, she was hung. British “law” meant hanging and it was used depravedly against the poor. And in the colonies, it was worse.
Merchants and members of the Boston House of Representatives feared revolutionary crowds. They denounced “a tumultuous riotous assembling of armed Seamen, Servants, Negroes, and others… tending to the Destruction of all Government and Order.” The phrase, “Armed Seaman, Servants, Negroes, and others” became almost a formula in such denunciations. They would be echoed by many later historians.
But a vast, Atlantic-wide succession of rebellions against Impressment was the key feature of the run up to the Revolution. These rebellions mobilized sailors against the crown, motivated them to participate vigorously in other demonstrations about taxes, and taught them, their relatives and communities, in Lockean terms, the need for violent self-defense. In America, press-gangs made revolutionaries.
Now black escapees, like Crispus Attucks, often found freedom at sea. Sailors, notably blacks, would lead revolutionary crowds against press-gangs and other abuses.
In 1760 in Jamaica, Tacky’s Rebellion, the largest uprising against bondage until that time, lasted for 4 months. Between 1760 and 1775, the outbreak of the American Revolution, some 20 slave uprisings took place in Bermuda, Nevis, Surinam, British Honduras, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Vincent, Tobago, St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. Kitts.
Seized without compensation, forced to abandon their families, sailors on British ships often identified with slaves. They took the word to London and Boston. In 1760, J. Philmore talked with mariners on London docks, and wrote the memorable Two Dialogues concerning the Man-Trade. In the broad abolitionist movement in England and America, Philmore’s 1760 pamphlet marks the most thorough transition politically from fighting for the basic “rights of an Englishman” to natural, universal or what we name today human rights. Unlike non-abolitionist authors, Philmore replaces the commonly labeled “slave trade”—a pro-bondage appellation which falsely legitimizes owners, merchants, and hunters—with the shocking but true name: the Man-trade. James Otis wrote a similar pamphlet in Boston. These ideas would be discussed in every poor people’s tavern in the 11 years leading up to the Revolution and shape rank-and-file abolitionism.
Integrated riots against press-gangs marked the pre-Revolutionary period as well as protest against taxes on tea or stamped paper. In Newport in June 1765, 500 “seamen, boys, and Negroes” rioted after five weeks of impressment. In Norfolk in 1767, Captain Jeremiah Morgan retreated, sword in hand, before a mob of armed whites and Negroes. “Good God,” he wrote to the governor, “was your Honour and I to prosecute all the Rioters that attacked us belonging to Norfolk there would not be twenty left unhang’d belonging to the Toun.” According to Thomas Hutchinson, the Liberty Riot in Boston in I768 was as much against impressment as against the seizure of John Hancock’s sloop. To understand this militancy, we might say that a second and deeper emancipatory revolution against bondage surged from the Caribbean via sailors into the U.S. and London, and shaped the revolution for independence from Britain.
In 1776, the crown authorized large numbers of press warrants in London for bodies to fight the American Revolution. But sailors, armed, marched together “having resolved to oppose any violence that might be done to them, and rather die than assist the Royalists in shedding the Blood of their American Brethren.” This was a startling example of democratic solidarity or internationalism from below, anti-patriotic, despising the Royalists’ haughty colonialism. Read the Rest Here including the level of Black Toryism, and Black Patriots who fought in major battles…
It has been 150 years, but the legacy lives on…
For Lula Williams, America’s worst period isn’t ancient history — her grandmother was a slave
As a child growing up in South Carolina, I was keenly aware of how close I was to the history of slavery. It was all around me — in the fact of my ancestors owning slaves and fighting for the Confederacy, in the presence of black people who shared my last name, and in the Confederate battle flag that flew on my state’s capitol.
In many ways, the war for white supremacy was not over. It was simply being fought by other means.
I’ve been trying to understand and account for this history and my own privilege as a white male by writing and teaching about the nexus of race and violence in America. I mostly encounter white people who are embarrassed and angered by the violence of slavery and lynching or white people who don’t think it has any relation to them or to the present.
When Dylann Roof murdered nine black people last June at Emmanuel A.M.E., a church with deep roots in the freedom struggle, the proximity of our present lives to our nation’s slaving past resonated once again especially as photos surfaced of Roof posing before the Confederate flag.
Then Nikki Haley, the governor of my home state, did something I never imagined happening in my lifetime—she signed the order to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s state house grounds.
The backlash from the pro-flag contingent was swift. The Southern Poverty Law Center counted 346 pro-flag rallies in the months after South Carolina furled the flag.
Even in Ohio, where I live now, I noticed a spike in Confederate flags. Giant Confederate battle flags, fluttering in the wake of jacked-up trucks. Just two weeks ago, I saw one on a red GMC the very same day I interviewed a woman named Lula Williams who will turn 95 years old this month.
Lula’s grandmother, Eliza Jane Smiley, was a slave.
In a story that is in step with the terrifying realities of slavery, Eliza Jane’s father was also her master. As she grew up, Eliza Jane became the personal slave of her master/father’s young daughter. In fact, Eliza Jane slept on the floor next to her bed.
I repeated aloud what Lula said just be clear. “So she was a slave to her sister?”
Lula looked at me knowingly and said, “Weird. Sick minds.”
After Emancipation, Eliza Jane remained on the plantation, either because she lacked better opportunities or because she was coerced. Then she met a man named Charles Smiley who had been born a “free black.” Charles worked on a riverboat and the captain was friends with Eliza Jane’s father/master.
Charles took her away from the plantation and the two were married in 1873. Charles, Lula’s grandfather, founded Hill Street Baptist Church in Louisville in 1895 and pastored there for over forty years. When Eliza Jane died, he came to live with Lula and her mother in Coshocton, Ohio.Lula has fond memories of her childhood and her “loving close family,” but those memories are framed by stories of violence and barriers erected by both personal and institutional racism. She grew up knowing that the Klan was in her community, that a black man named Henry Howard was lynched on the courthouse square in 1885, and that a local jeweler kept one of Howard’s toes on display in his store.
There weren’t many black people, but the town, situated in the Appalachian foothills, was small enough that “most everybody knew everybody.” And yet some businesses still wouldn’t serve black people. Barbers wouldn’t cut their hair. Restaurants wouldn’t serve them. And some area towns were off limits to black people after sunset.
Lula said that some of her siblings had trouble in school because of their race. “They would call us names, and then we’d fight them,” she said. “But the others who were raised a little better, they ignored us, but at least they didn’t call us names.”
When her grandfather died, Lula traveled with her mother to Louisville for his burial. Once there her mother’s white aunt—Eliza Jane’s sister — contacted her and asked to see her. She was living in the Brown Hotel in Louisville. Lula accompanied her mother to this meeting, but when she got there was told that she would have to sit in the hallway. Lula never did meet her.“Is there any part of you that’s ever wanted to meet those people?” I asked.
“Not really. I was always kind of bitter about it. I can’t say that I hated them, but to me they just didn’t exist.”
There is no question that Rock and Roll owes it’s roots to black music. And in the 50’s and even early 60’s songs written by black musicians were stolen and made hugely popular with white audiences by segregated radio. It took decades for those black artists to receive compensation for their work. The first Rock Superstar was Elvis Presley, although there were a number of others, including Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis who aspired to the throne. Several of Elvis’ big hits were covers of black musicians music. Bu he also “borrowed” from white musicians. In particular Blue Suede Shoes was a cover of Carl Perkins.
Elvis learned his chops playing with, and befriending black musicians. Because of his “Rockabilly” style, upbringing, and birthplace, a lot of black folks assumed Elvis was a bigot. There is no evidence to support that, although in a racist South, he, like all of the 50’s rock musicians performed with all white bands. The people who actually performed in the Studio recordings however – were a different story.
Rock music’s legacy is conflicted.
It’s a genre that transformed American culture in a way that re-shaped racial dynamics, but it also came to embody them. Music that at one point in the 1950s seemed to herald the deterioration of racial boundaries, gender norms and cultural segregation had, by the 1970s, become re-defined as a white-dominated, male-dominated multi-million dollarindustry. In the years between, rock ‘n’ roll matured into “rock” and the counterculture embraced anti-establishment ideas like integration and women’s rights—without ever really investing in tearing down white supremacy in any real, measurable way. In that, rock’s history with race is sometimes naïve, sometimes willfully ignorant, and sometimes undeniably hypocritical.
“Elvis was a hero to most but he never meant shit to me. See straight up racist that sucker was, simple and plain…”
It’s one of the most well-known and significant lines in hip-hop history. Public Enemy’s high-profile smackdown of white America’s “King of Rock ‘N’ Roll” resonated and reverberated throughout hip-hop nation in a way that even overshadowed the Flavor Flavlyrical gut-punch of John Wayne that completed the infamous couplet. On a certain level, the line was symbolic of hip-hop’s intentional dismantling of America’s white iconography; this was a new generation that wasn’t going to be beholden to your heroes or your standards. We’ve got our own voice, it announced. You will be forced to reckon with that voice.
That line also hit so hard because Elvis Presley’s racism has long been a part of his image and reputation in the black community. His notorious quote (“The only thing Negroes can do for me is buy my records and shine my shoes”), solidified his villainy amongst black people. His is the legacy of cultural appropriation and white privilege—made doubly offensive by the fact that he was so dismissive and contemptuous of the black people from whom he’d stolen rock ‘n’ roll.
But—what if none of that was actually true?
The “shine my shoes” quote came from a 1957 article called “How Negroes Feel About Elvis,” published in a periodical called Sepia. The Ft. Worth-based magazine had been founded by Horace Blackwell, a clothing merchant; but by the mid-’50s had been bought by Jewish-American merchant George Levitan. It was by now white-owned but had a black staff and was still marketed to black readers, a publication superficially in the vein of EBONY but often with a more sensationalist slant.
“Some Negroes are unable to forget that Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, hometown of the foremost Dixie race baiter, former Congressman Jon Rankin,” read the article. “Others believe a rumored crack by Elvis during a Boston appearance in which he is alleged to have said: ‘The only thing Negroes can do for me is shine my shoes and buy my records.’”
At the time of the article’s publication, Elvis Presley had never been to Boston. It was also alleged that he’d said it on Edward R. Murrow‘s Person to Person TV show—but he hadn’t appeared there either. Louie Robinson, Jet magazine’s associate editor, tried tracing the actual origins of the quote and came up empty. So he tracked down Elvis himself, interviewing the singer in his Jailhouse Rock dressing room in the summer of 1967.
“I never said anything like that,” Elvis said at the time. “And people who know me know I wouldn’t have said it.”
“A lot of people seem to think I started this business,” Elvis continued, regarding his “King of Rock ‘N’ Roll” status and reputation. “But rock ‘n’ roll was here a long time before I came along. Nobody can sing that kind of music like colored people. Let’s face it; I can’t sing it like Fats Domino can. I know that. But I always liked that kind of music.”
“I always wanted to sing like Billy Kenny of the Ink Spots,” Elvis was further quoted as saying in the Jet interview. “I like that high, smooth style.” But Presley acknowledged that his own voice was more in line with the originator of the song that he would cover for his first single. “I never sang like this in my life until I made that first record—‘That’s Alright, Mama.’ I remembered that song because I heard Arthur (Big Boy) Crudup sing it and I thought I would like to try it.”
Presley had grown up on the “black side” of Tupelo, he’d run with the likes of Ike Turner in his early days as a musician and became close friends with B.B. King and eventually James Brown, Cissy Houston and Muhammad Ali. The racism that he’s been branded with because of a phantom quote seems to be a fabrication. But rock’s legacy as a genre pioneered by black people before white artists discovered it, white media re-branded it and white audiences embraced it means that despite Elvis not spouting racist ideas, his legacy is still rooted in racism—even if that racism isn’t directly born of the man himself. He attained his stature because he was not black and in doing so, he opened the doors for a generation of his disciples to reap those same benefits. And when examining the histories of so many of those notables, there is a legacy that is as conflicted as it is confounding.
Not unlike the history of rock itself.
To a generation of long-haired hippies, Elvis came to symbolize the antiquated era of malt shops and sock hops or a rock ‘n’ roller who’d grown up to be a stale old fart, churning out shlock. He may have aided in the white embrace of black music, but he hadn’t sang at the March on Washington like Bob Dylan, nor had he championed Bobby Seale like John Lennon. In the era of pop stars as quasi-revolutionaries, Elvis had become the establishment. The ’60s generation was about change. …Read the Rest Here…
I wouldn’t have thought this possible as little as 20 years ago…
The resolution calls for Southern Baptist churches to discontinue displaying the Confederate flag as a “sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ.”
The U.S. Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution on Tuesday repudiating the Confederate battle flag as an emblem of slavery, marking the latest bid for racial reconciliation by America’s largest Protestant denomination.
The resolution, passed at the predominantly white convention’s annual meeting in St. Louis, calls for Southern Baptist churches to discontinue displaying the Confederate flag as a “sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ.”
The action came four years after the denomination elected its first black president, Fred Luter, a pastor and civic leader from New Orleans.
In 1995, a Southern Baptist committee issued a resolution apologizing to African-Americans for condoning slavery and racism during the early years of the denomination’s 171-year history.
The convention, currently made up of more than 46,000 churches nationwide, was established in 1845 after Southern Baptists split from the First Baptist Church in America in the pre-Civil War era over the issue of slavery.
The denomination now counts a growing number of minorities among its more than 15.8 million members and has sought in recent years to better reflect the diversity of its congregants and America as a whole.
“This denomination was founded by people who wrongly defended the sin of human slavery,” said Russell Moore, head of the convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “Today the nation’s largest Protestant denomination voted to repudiate the Confederate battle flag, and it’s time and well past time.”
The flag carried by the South’s pro-slavery Confederate forces during the 1861-65 U.S. Civil War re-emerged as a flashpoint in America’s troubled race relations after the massacre of nine blacks by a white gunman at an historic church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015. The assailant was seen afterward in photographs posing with the flag.
The episode stirred a movement to eliminate the Stars and Bars flag – seen by many whites as a sign of Southern heritage, not hate – from South Carolina’s statehouse and many other public displays in the South during the months that followed.