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Maryland Opens Historical Center About Harriet Tubman

A portion of Harriet Tubman’s life is set to be dramatized on the Television Series “Underground” on WGN America. Watch it, it is really good!

I currently live on the Eastern Shore, about an hour and a half South of the places Harriet Tubman rescued slaves. I am familiar with the landscape and the swamps (The Great Cypress Swamp) and thickets can be near if not completely impassable and are similar to something you would think of in Florida or Louisiana. There is a great kayak trip though the swamp area, as well as the Blackwater (the water is stained black by the cypress trees) area off the Choptank where Tubman operated.

Harriet Tubman fled a life of slavery in Maryland. Now a new visitor center opens on the land she escaped.

She preferred moving in the darkness of long winter nights. She didn’t wait for late passengers: The “train” for Zion always left on time. And she carried a pistol, in case of trouble or flagging hearts.

Her branch of the line began here, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, near places like Tobacco Stick, Kentuck Swamp, and Skeleton Creek, off the Choptank River, to the north.

She was small and the color of a chestnut, as her owner described her when she first ran away. But she was hardened by whippings and work on the timber gangs, and she knew the wilderness as well as a hunter.

On March 11, the National Park Service and the Maryland State Park Service plan to unveil a new visitor center here dedicated to the life and mission of abolitionist and legendary Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman.

The $22 million center, in the works since 2008, is adjacent to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, in the hallowed area where Tubman was born, enslaved and from which she escaped.

The opening festivities next weekend will feature reenactors, lectures and writing workshops. The center has exhibits, a museum store, a research library, and an outdoor walking path and pavilion.

It’s the same area where Tubman repeatedly returned at great risk to help relatives and friends out of bondage along the secret anti-slavery network to freedom that was the Underground Railroad.

Between about 1850 and 1860, using stealth and disguise, she made 13 trips, spiriting 70 people out of slavery, historians believe.

Tubman’s life spanned most of the 19th and part of the 20th century, took her across the Eastern United State and Canada, and saw her fight for civil rights, women’s rights and the cause of the Union in the Civil War.

But it was here in the mosquito-infested swamps and woods, and the local plantations and river ports, that the slave girl “Minty” Ross became the liberator, Harriet Tubman.

Here, Tubman was beaten as a child by a mistress who slept with a whip under her pillow. Here, she checked muskrat traps, broke flax and hauled logs with a team of oxen she was permitted to purchase.

nd here, scholars say, amid a fracas one night, she was struck on the head with an iron weight and suffered a debilitating brain injury that would alter her life.

Tubman understood the haunting landscape where she lived and was said to possess a mystical “charm” that protected her, according to biographer Kate Clifford Larson.

“She was a genius,” Larson said in a recent telephone interview. “Even though she couldn’t read or write, she was born with a gift.”

“When she worked in the woods with her father, he taught her how to survive,” Larson said. “How to feed herself, how to protect herself, how to navigate through those woods that are really dark at night.”

And she dare not carry a lantern.

“This is the area that shaped Harriet Tubman’s ideals,” National Park Service historian Beth Parnicza said. “It’s where she and her family grew up, where she lived for 27 years of her life.”

“This landscape is critical to her story,” she said…. Read the Rest Here

 

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2017 in Black History, Giant Negros

 

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Yale to Change Calhoun College to Grace Hopper College

John C. Calhoun was a Southern Congressman prior to the Civil War from South Carolina. He was know for two things, his ardent support of slavery, and along with Henry Clay, in being one of the principal causes of the Civil War, with Clay rallying Southern states to secede from the Union. The blood on this man’s hands included not only the 650,000 Americans on both sides who died during the Civil War – but countless civilian casualties.

Admiral Grace Hopper was a Washington area heroine. She is credited with creating the first structured programming language, COBOL. Met her several times first professionally as a Department Head while working at the Old Navy Yard, and second, as she would come to the University to give talks about technology and technology history. She was an icon for all of us to try and emulate.

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Yale to Rename Calhoun College for Computer Scientist Grace Hopper

Yale’s Calhoun College — named after the nation’s seventh vice-president and prominent defender of slavery, John C. Calhoun — has long been a source of controversy, with students calling for the university to rename it, most recently in a wave of protests that began in fall 2015. On Saturday, the university announced that they would be dropping John C. Calhoun’s name from the college and naming it after a female computer-programming visionary, Grace Hopper.

Back in April 2016, Yale president Peter Salovey said that they would not be renaming Calhoun College, which he explained by saying that “erasing Calhoun’s name from a much-beloved residential college risks masking this past, downplaying the lasting effects of slavery, and substituting a false and misleading narrative, albeit one that might allow us to feel complacent or, even, self-congratulatory.”

He’s since appeared to have come around to the arguments against the name. “John C. Calhoun’s principles, his legacy as an ardent supporter of slavery as a positive good, are at odds with this university,” Salovey told reporters following news that the university would in fact be dropping Calhoun’s name.

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, the new namesake of the residential college, was a visionary computer programmer who earned her master’s and Ph.D. at Yale. She served in the Navy during World War II and was a pioneer in automatic programming (and, unsurprisingly, faced resistance from the heavily male tech world at the time). In 2016, Hopper received the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously.

The change is expected to take place sometime between now and the fall.

Someone the Yale students can be proud of!

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2017 in Black History, The Post-Racial Life

 

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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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United Nations – The US Owes Reparations

The UN is on a roll this week… The “Racial Terrorism” part is ongoing.

How about some legislation which covers the ground in terms of the Justice System mentioned by Hillary Clinton in the debate last night…

As well as some anti-discrimination laws with teeth.

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United Nations: US owes blacks reparations over slavery and ‘racial terrorism’

The United States should give African Americans reparations for slavery, UN experts said Tuesday, warning that the country had not yet confronted its legacy of “racial terrorism.”

Amid a presidential election campaign in which racial rhetoric has played a central role, the UN working group on people of African descent warned that blacks in the US were facing a “human rights crisis.”

This has largely been fuelled by impunity for police officers who have killed a series of black men — many of them unarmed — across the country in recent months, the working group’s report said.

Those killings “and the trauma they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynchings,” said the report, which was presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday.

Addressing the deeper causes of America’s racial tensions, the experts voiced concern over the unresolved “legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality.”

“There has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent,” the report said.

Working group chairman Ricardo A. Sunga told reporters that the panel believed several models of reparations could work in the US context, including “elements of apology” and a form of “debt relief” to the descendants of enslaved people.

Asked about the campaign and accusations that Republican nominee Donald Trump has made racially inflammatory remarks, Sunga voiced alarm over “hate speech…xenophobia (and) Afrophobia.”

“We are very troubled that these are on the rise,” he added, without naming Trump specifically but calling on officials and “even candidates” to watch their words.

Trump and his camp have denied all racism charges.

In the campaign’s first debate on Monday, Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton accused Trump of launching his campaign on the “racist lie” that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

The UN working group visited the several US states in January before producing their final report.

 

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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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The Southern Myth – How Slavery Became Pleasant

I remember this from my segregated primary school 3rd Grade textbook, which is the one mentioned in the article below. When I first attended an integrated school in 7th Grade, the textbook in the previously all white school quoted almost verbatim the Southern Myth about slavery. My refusal to be tested and graded on anything which was gross historical lie, or to sit in class while it was being taught caused a bit of an uproar. I actually remember one white girl saying in class how well the slaves were treated, and how happy they were…That lasted up until I mentioned Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner (We didn’t know about Gabriel Prosser yet as much of what would become Black History had been erased from the textbooks and had to be rediscovered). and The teacher challenged me to provide material which contravened the information in the “official” Virginia History Book. My Dad, a historian had just completed a book on black history, replete with all the research and documentation from places like the Library of Congress…

I provided said information.

The Daughters of the Confederacy weren’t the last to attempt to rewrite History…Right wingers in Texas have even tried to erase figures like Cesar Chavez and the existence of black contributions to America. So the battle is ongoing.

Welcome to America. I now own your ass.

How Dixie’s History Got Whitewashed

The United Daughters of the Confederacy were once a powerful force in public education across the South, right down to rewriting history: slaves were happy, y’all.

Earlier this week Vanderbilt University announced that it would remove the word “Confederate” from the stone pediment at the entrance to a campus dormitory known as Memorial Hall. The decision brings to a close a long-standing dispute between the university and the Tennessee division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which provided the funds for the construction of the building and claimed naming rights in 1933. As part of the agreement, the school will pay the UDC $1.2 million or the present value of their initial $50,000 donation. This decision is the latest in a string of high-profile moves to remove Confederate iconography from public and private places as well as a reflection of the UDC’s long decline.

The women who founded the UDC in 1894 were committed to preserving and defending the memory of  Confederate soldiers and their cause. By World War I, membership in the UDC had reached roughly 100,000. While chapters were eventually established throughout the country, they remained most influential in the South, where they organized Decoration Day ceremonies, monument dedications, and raised money to support veterans in their old age. Their most important function, however, was the overseeing of how history was taught to the next generation on the high school and college levels. Students were expected to assume the responsibility of defending their ancestors once the generation that lived through the war had died. They did this primarily by authorizing textbooks for classroom use and rejecting those they deemed to be a threat to the memory of the Confederate soldier.

The UDC promoted histories that celebrated the Confederate cause by praising leaders like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and ignoring or re-interpreting the central cause of the war, namely slavery. Consider Susan Pendleton Lee’s 1895 textbook, A School History of the United States, in which she declared that although abolitionists had declared slavery to be a “moral wrong,” most Southerners believed that “the evils connected with it were less than those of any other system of labor.” “Hundreds of thousands of African savages,” according to the author, “had been Christianized under its influence—the kindest relations existed between the slaves and their owners.” It should come as no surprise that in her account of Reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan was necessary “for protection against . . . outrages committed by misguided negroes.”

By the first decade of the 20th century and with the encouragement of the UDC, most Southern states established textbook commissions to oversee and recommend books for all public schools that provided a “fair and impartial” interpretation. These committees worked diligently to challenge publishers who stood to threaten the South’s preferred story of the war: “Southern schools and Southern teachers have prepared books which Southern children may read without insult or traduction of their fathers. Printing presses all over the Southland—and all over the Northland—are sending forth by thousands ones which tell the true character of the heroic struggle. The influence . . . of the South forbid[s] longer the perversion of truth and falsification of history.”…

…The effort made by the UDC to control history textbooks paid off immeasurably and continued to shape how Americans remembered the Civil War well into the 20th century. As late as the ’70s, the state of Virginia still used the popular textbook Virginia: History, Government, Geography by Francis B. Simkins, Spotswood H. Jones, and Sidman P. Poole, first published in 1957. Its chapter on slavery—“How the Negroes Lived under Slavery”—featured a well-dressed African-American family on board a ship shaking hands with a white man, who is presumed to be the family’s new owner. Here is how it describes slavery:

A feeling of strong affection existed between masters and slaves in a majority of Virginia homes . . . The house servants became almost as much a part of the planter’s family circle as its white members . . . The Negroes were always present at family weddings. They were allowed to look on at dances and other entertainments . . . A strong tie existed between slave and master because each was dependent on the other …  The slave system demanded that the master care for the slave in childhood, in sickness, and in old age. The regard that master and slaves had for each other made plantation life happy and prosperous.  Life among the Negroes of Virginia in slavery times was generally happy. The Negroes went about in a cheerful manner making a living for themselves and for those for whom they worked . . . But they were not worried by the furious arguments going on between Northerners and Southerners over what should be done with them. In fact, they paid little attention to these arguments.

My Dad always argued that black folks were the first non-Asian people to reach the Americas from Africa. He had visited Mexico and seen the statues of the Olmecs who ruled parts of what is now Mexico and Central America in 1700 BC. It is only about 1,000 miles by sea at the closest point between Africa and South America aided by the “Westerlies”. He believed that the great trading period starting about 7th Century was actually the second or third rise of trade and exploration in West Africa. Indeed it is now known as a result of that second/third trade period that the first known African migrated to live in England in the 13th Century, and there may have been trade between North Africa and Europe as early as the Vikings.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2016 in Black History, The New Jim Crow

 

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Those Forgotten Lyrics in the Star Spangled Banner

Few people know that there are other verses to the National Anthem. One of those verses is quite racist and belies the idea of Freedom for All Men.

In the War of 1812, the British, as they had done in the Revolutionary War, recruited black soldiers with the promise of freedom. Many of these soldiers were slaves, who escaped from the Plantation to fight for their freedom. IN the War of 1812, one of those groups specifically were the Royal Marines, who kicked regnant colonial ass across Maryland to sack the Capital, Washington, DC. Among the recipients of said butt kicking was a Lieutenant in the Colonial forces at The Battle of Bladensburg, Maryland…One Francis Scott Key.

An American depiction of the Battle of Bladensburg, all the black faces in Redcoat are erased.

Star-Spangled Bigotry: The Hidden Racist History of the National Anthem

Most people don’t know there’s more than one verse to the national anthem, and it’s the third that’s a doozy.

Aericans generally get a failing grade when it comes to knowing our “patriotic songs.” I know more people who can recite “America, F–k Yeah” from Team America than “America the Beautiful.” “Yankee Doodle”? No one older than a fifth-grader in chorus class remembers the full song. “God Bless America”? More people know the Rev. Jeremiah Wright remix than the actual full lyrics of the song. Most black folks don’t even know “the black national anthem.” (There’s a great story about Bill Clinton being at an NAACP meeting where he was the only one who knew it past the first line. Bill Clinton: Woke in the ’90s.)

In the case of our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” perhaps not knowing the full lyrics is a good thing. It is one of the most racist, pro-slavery, anti-black songs in the American lexicon, and you would be wise to cut it from your Fourth of July playlist.

“The Star-Spangled Banner,” as most Americans know it, is only a couple of lines. In fact, if you look up the song on Google, only the most famous lyrics pop up on Page 1:

Oh say can you see,
By the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed,
At the twilight’s last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched,
Were so gallantly streaming.

And thy rocket’s red glare,
Thy bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through thee night,
That our flag was still there.

Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

The story, as most of us are told, is that Francis Scott Key was a prisoner on a British ship during the War of 1812 and wrote this poem while watching the American troops battle back the invading British in Baltimore. That—as is the case with 99 percent of history that is taught in public schools and regurgitated by the mainstream press—is less than half the story.

To understand the full “Star-Spangled Banner” story, you have to understand the author. Key was an aristocrat and city prosecutor in Washington, D.C. He was, like most enlightened men at the time, not against slavery; he just thought that since blacks were mentally inferior, masters should treat them with more Christian kindness. He supported sending free blacks (not slaves) back to Africa and, with a few exceptions, was about as pro-slavery, anti-black and anti-abolitionist as you could get at the time.

Of particular note was Key’s opposition to the idea of the Colonial Marines. The Marines were a battalion of runaway slaves who joined with the British Royal Army in exchange for their freedom. The Marines were not only a terrifying example of what slaves would do if given the chance, but also a repudiation of the white superiority that men like Key were so invested in.

All of these ideas and concepts came together around Aug. 24, 1815, at the Battle of Bladensburg, where Key, who was serving as a lieutenant at the time, ran into a battalion of Colonial Marines. His troops were taken to the woodshed by the very black folks he disdained, and he fled back to his home in Georgetown to lick his wounds. The British troops, emboldened by their victory in Bladensburg, then marched into Washington, D.C., burning the Library of Congress, the Capitol Building and the White House. You can imagine that Key was very much in his feelings seeing black soldiers trampling on the city he so desperately loved.

A few weeks later, in September of 1815, far from being a captive, Key was on a British boat begging for the release of one of his friends, a doctor named William Beanes. Key was on the boat waiting to see if the British would release his friend when he observed the bloody battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore on Sept. 13, 1815. America lost the battle but managed to inflict heavy casualties on the British in the process. This inspired Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” right then and there, but no one remembers that he wrote a full third stanza decrying the former slaves who were now working for the British army:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

In other words, Key was saying that the blood of all the former slaves and “hirelings” on the battlefield will wash away the pollution of the British invaders. With Key still bitter that some black soldiers got the best of him a few weeks earlier, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is as much a patriotic song as it is a diss track to black people who had the audacity to fight for their freedom. Perhaps that’s why it took almost 100 years for the song to become the national anthem.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2016 in Black History

 

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