Georgetown University has decided to rename two buildings named after slaveowners, following protests from students calling for increased awareness of the university’s racial history.
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by Matthew Wright –theGrio.com
Georgetown University has decided to rename two buildings named after slaveowners, following protests from students calling for increased awareness of the university’s racial history.
For full post click here.
Associated Press via Huff Post Black Voices
RENO, Nev. (AP) — A runaway slave who joined the Union Army during the Civil War and lost a leg after being wounded in battle finally received recognition Sunday, nearly 100 years after he died in Nevada.
Nevada historians say they decided to hold a military funeral for Pvt. Scott Carnal of the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry because it’s unlikely he received any recognition after his death in 1917 in Dayton, about 40 miles south of Reno.
Carnal was long forgotten until modern researchers discovered that he belonged to the United States Colored Troops and was severely wounded in the Battle of Honey Springs in what is now Oklahoma on July 17, 1863. He was roughly 73 when he died, and no obituary on him has surfaced.
Over 200 people, many of them wearing Civil War-era attire, paid tribute to Carnal and other unsung veterans at the Dayton Cemetery during the ceremony staged by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, the Historical Society of Dayton Valley and several other groups. Firing squads and a bugler stood to offer three-volley salutes and play taps. A riderless horse led by a man circled Carnal’s grave.
John Riggs of the Sons of Union Veterans said Carnal was a hero for putting his life on the line to preserve the Union and abolish slavery. The Virginia-born Carnal joined the Union Army in Kansas in March 1863, shortly after running away from his slave master in Missouri. He was about 19 at the time.
“Can you imagine being a slave out on some plantation and seeing the Civil War going on and you say, ‘Well, I need to be part of that?'” Riggs said. “For somebody that young to volunteer to go out in the field to fight and then get shot in combat, he had to be a hero. He did his duty as a volunteer for freedom.”
Christopher Price, director of the Honey Springs Battlefield, said Carnal’s brigade played a major role in the battle, which was a turning point for the Union in the campaign west of the Mississippi River. The soldiers who fought it were mostly of African-American and American-Indian ancestry.
The United States Colored Troops made up over 10 percent of the Union Army, while only 1 percent of the North’s population was black, according to the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum in Washington, D.C. After President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation took effect on Jan. 1, 1863, the War Department publicly authorized the recruiting of blacks.
“Without the military help of the black freedmen, the war against the South could not have been won,” Lincoln said.
After Carnal was hit in the thigh by a musket ball at the Battle of Honey Springs, his wound festered until doctors amputated his leg nine years later, according to his military records. His physical struggles continued, and he eventually was awarded a military pension by the government.
He married after the Civil War and had a daughter. He later headed west to mine gold and silver in Colorado and Nevada. A likely grandson, Anatole Cornell, died in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood in 2007, and no descendants have turned up so far.
Linda Clements, president of the Historical Society of Dayton Valley, said she’s baffled how Carnal ended up in Dayton. She will serve as his “surrogate mother” and tend his grave until any descendants or other family can be found, she said.
“For now Scott is my adoptive ancestor … I am fascinated by his story and I hope somehow in the great equalizer of death he’s found the comfort that was so often denied him in life,” she wrote by email.
NorthStarNewsToday Posted April 25, 2015
New York City officials will install a marker on Wall Street, finally acknowledging the city’s role in the slave trade. The marker will be unveiled Juneteenth (June 19th), which was the day in 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and told the slaves that the Civil War had ended and they were free. June 19th, 2015, will be the 150th anniversary of Granger’s announcement, according to the website Juneteenth.com The marker will be installed in a pocket park on the northeast corner of Wall and Water streets, one block from the intersection of Wall and Pearl streets, where the slave market operated in the from 1711 to 1762.
“The slaves of that time and place helped build City Hall,” said New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams, a sponsor of the legislation that led to the marker’s creation. “Their lives should be celebrated and their deaths should be mourned.” The marker will cost about $5,000. Slavery was introduced to Manhattan in 1626. Although most of us associate slavery with the South, as it should be, the major slave-trading city was Providence, Rhode Island. The Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island is planning to re-open a church where slaves once worshipped as a museum to study Episcopalians’ role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. “The Cathedral of St. John is blocks from where the slave ships came in [to port] and where slaves were sold.
This church saw it all happen,” Canon Linda Grenz of the Diocese of Rhode Island, told Blackmansstreet.Today and NorthStar News Today.com. Rhode Island, whose official name is the State of Rhode Island Providence Plantations, was at one time the epicenter of U.S. slave trade, associated with more than 1,000 slave voyages, or about 58 percent of the U.S. total, departing from Providence, Bristol, Newport and other seafaring towns located along the state’s coastline, according to an article by James DeWolf Perry. The DeWolf family, led by James DeWolf, brought more than 10,000 enslaved Africans across the Middle Passage. DeWolf , a member of Democratic-Republican Party, served in the U.S. Senate from 1821 to 1825.
He was also the second-richest man in the country, according to the article. “A lot of people believe that everyone in the North were abolitionists, but that’s not true,” Benjamin Sibielski, spokesperson for the diocese, said. New York’s slave market operated for 51 years and thousands of black men, women, children and captured Native Americans were sold into slavery.
In 1889, Brazil became the last country in the Americas to outlaw slavery. More enslaved Africans were sent to Brazil than any other country in the hemisphere. That legacy of racial slavery is readily apparent in Brazil’s socioeconomic structure today. Among the poorest 10 percent of the population, 72 percent are black or mixed-race, according to a 2012 study by the Institute of Applied Economic Research.
Researchers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro calculated in 2013 that if the Brazilian population were divided along racial lines, whites would occupy the 65th position on the U.N. Human Development Index, while Afro-Brazilians would only reach 102nd place. Despite all that, Brazil is also home to what may well be the largest slavery reparations program ever attempted. Article 68 of the 1988 Constitution grants a permanent, nontransferable title to the land occupied by settlements started by runaway slaves, known in Portuguese as “quilombos.”
In 2003, the leftwing government of Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva expanded the legal definition of the word “quilombo,” classifying it as an ethnicity. Under Brazilian law, the change meant that now virtually any black community could apply for benefits under the law if a majority of its residents so decided. The Brazilian government had certified some 2,400 communities as quilombos by 2013, with hundreds more waiting for approval. The law affects more than 1 million people and the territory claimed by the quilombos across Brazil totals about 4.4 million acres — roughly the size of New Jersey.
The promised land is not forthcoming for most of these communities. Only 217 quilombos had received their constitutionally guaranteed land titles as of last year. But the growing movement’s massive scope makes clear that Brazil’s legacy of slavery is not a thing of the past. The Huffington Post reported on Brazil’s quilombo movement in a two-part series last year. The photos below, some of them published here for the first time, were taken as part of that project.
Poverty hurts children and our nation’s future. This stark statement is backed by years of scientific research and the more we learn about the brain and its development the more devastatingly true we know this to be. Childhood poverty can and does scar children for life. Yet in the largest economy on earth we stand by as 14.7 million languish in poverty. Here’s a snapshot of who our poor children are today:
A child of color is more than twice as likely to be poor as a White child. Of the 14.7 million children living beneath the poverty line in 2013, defined as a family of four living on less than $23,834 a year, or $16.25 a person a day, over 40 percent lived in extreme poverty on less than $11,917 a year, half the poverty line – barely $8 a person a day.
The 14.7 million poor children in America exceeds the populations of 12 U.S. states combined: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming and is greater than the populations of Sweden and Costa Rica combined.
Our nearly 6.5 million extremely poor children exceeds the combined populations of Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming and is greater than the populations of Denmark or Finland.
It is a national disgrace that so many poor children live in the United States of America –the world’s richest economy. It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s costly. And it’s the greatest threat to our future national, economic and military security.
The Children’s Defense Fund has just released a groundbreaking report called Ending Child Poverty Now showing for the first time how America could end child poverty, as defined by the Supplemental Poverty measure, for 60 percent of all poor children and 72 percent of all poor Black children. We can make this happen by investing another 2 percent of the federal budget to improve existing programs and policies that increase parental employment, make work pay and ensure children’s basic needs are met. Poverty for children under 3 and children in single parent households would drop 64 percent and 97 percent of all poor children would experience improvements in their economic circumstances.
CDF contracted with the non-partisan, independent Urban Institute to generate real numbers on the costs to implement improvements to existing policies and programs and the number of children who would benefit. CDF’s report shows how relatively modest changes in policies we know work can be combined to significantly reduce child poverty, and implemented right now if our political leaders put common good, common sense and economic sense for children first to improve the lives and futures of millions of children, and save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
CDF’s report estimates a cost of $77.2 billion a year for the combined proposed policy improvements and suggests multiple tradeoffs our country can make to pay for this huge, long overdue and urgently needed reduction in child poverty without raising the federal deficit including:
Download CDF’s new report and share it widely with your child advocacy networks and faith communities to learn changes that can be made at the national, state and local levels. Fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty, it’s time for all Americans to work together to finish the job beginning with ending child poverty in our nation with the largest economy on earth.
What you might not have taken away from the ensuing media storm is that “The Half Has Never Been Told” is quite a gripping read. Baptist weaves deftly between analysis of economic data and narrative prose to paint a picture of American slavery that is pretty different from what you may have learned in high school Social Studies class.
The whole thing is well worth reading in full. Baptist positions his book in opposition to textbooks that present slavery like a distant aberration of American history, cramming 250 years into a few chapters in a way “that cuts the beating heart out of the story.” To counter that image of history, Baptist devotes much of the book to depicting the lived experience of enslavement in a way that’s vivid and immediate.
But for those of you who are strapped for time, or who want a peek into the book before committing to the full 420 pages, here are five of his key arguments:
1) Slavery was a key driver of the formation of American wealth.
Baptist argues that our narrative of slavery generally goes something like this: it was a terrible thing, but it was an anomoly, a sort of feudal throwback within capitalism whose demise would inevitably come with the rise of wage labor. In fact, he argues, it was at the heart of the development of American capitalism.
Baptist crunches economic data to come up with a “back-of-the-envelope” estimate of how much slavery contributed to the American economy both directly and indirectly. “All told, more than $600 million, or almost half of the economic activity in the United States in 1836, derived directly or indirectly from cotton produced by the million-odd slaves — 6 percent of the total US population — who in that year toiled in labor camps on slavery’s frontier.”
By 1850, he writes, American slaves were worth $1.3 billion, one-fifth of the nation’s wealth.
2) In its heyday, slavery was more efficient than free labor, contrary to the arguments made by some northerners at the time.
Drawing on cotton production data and firsthand accounts of slaveowners and the formerly enslaved, Baptist finds that ever-increasing cotton picking quotas, enforced by brutal whippings, led slaves to reach picking speeds that stretched the limits of physical possibility. “A study of planter account books that record daily picking totals for individual enslaved people on labor camps across the South found a growth in daily picking totals of 2.1 percent per year,” Baptist writes. “The increase was even higher if one looks at the growth in the newer southwestern areas in 1860, where the efficiency of picking grew by 2.6 percent per year from 1811 to 1860, for a total productivity increase of 361 percent.”
Free wage laborers were comparatively much slower. “Many enslaved cotton pickers in the late 1850s had peaked at well over 200 pounds per day,” Baptist notes. “In the 1930s, after a half-century of massive scientific experimentation, all to make the cotton boll more pickable, the great-grandchildren of the enslaved often picked only 100 to 120 pounds per day.”
3) Slavery didn’t just enrich the South, but also drove the industrial boom in the North.
The steady stream of large quantities of cotton was the lifeblood of textile mills in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and generated wealth for the owners of those mills. By 1832, “Lowell consumed 100,000 days of enslaved people’s labor every year,” Baptist writes. “And as enslaved hands made pounds of cotton more efficiently than free ones, dropping the inflation-adjusted price of cotton delivered to the US and British textile mills by 60 percent between 1790 and 1860, the whipping-machine was freeing up millions of dollars for the Boston Associates.”
Slavery in the South was also instrumental in changing the demographic face of the North, as Europeans streamed in to work in the region’s factories. “Outside of the cotton ports, jobs were scarce for immigrants in the slave states during the 1840s, and they had no desire to compete with workers driven by the whipping-machine,” Baptist explains. “The immigrants’ choice to move to the North had significant demographic impact, raising the northern population from 7.1 million in 1830 to 10 million in 1840, and then to over 14 million by 1850. In the same period, the South grew much more slowly, from 5.7 million in 1830 to almost 9 million.”
4) Slavery wasn’t showing any signs of slowing down economically by the time the Civil War came around.
In the 1850s, southern production of cotton doubled from 2 million to 4 million bales, with no sign of either slowing down or quenching the industrial West’s thirst for raw materials. The world’s consumption of cotton grew from 1.5 billion to 2.5 billion pounds, and at the end of the decade the hands of US fields were still picking two-thirds of all of it, and almost all of that which went to Western Europe’s factories. By 1860, the eight wealthiest states in the United States, ranked by wealth per white person, were South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Connecticut, Alabama, Florida, and Texas — seven states created by cotton’s march west and south, plus one that, as the most industrialized state in the Union, profited disproportionately from the gearing of northern factory equipment to the southwestern whipping machine.
And it provided the basis for the creation of sophisticated financial products: slave-backed bonds that Baptist says were “remarkably similar to the securitized bonds, backed by mortgages on US homes, that attracted investors from around the globe to US financial markets from the 1980s until the economic collapse of 2008.”
Slave-backed bonds “generated revenue for investors from enslavers’ repayments of mortgages on enslaved people,” Baptist writes. “This meant that investors around the world would share in revenues made by hands in the field. Thus, in effect, even as Britain was liberating the slaves of its empire, a British bank could now sell an investor a completely commodified slave: not a particular individual who could die or run away, but a bond that was the right to a one-slave-sized slice of a pie made from the income of thousands of slaves.”
5) The South seceded to guarantee the expansion of slavery.
There are many competing explanations for what moved the South to secede. Baptist argues that the main driving reason was an economic one: slavery had to keep expanding to remain profitable, and Southern politicians wanted to ensure that new western states would be slave-owning ones. “Ever since the end of the Civil War, Confederate apologists have put out the lie that the southern states seceded and southerners fought to defend an abstract constitutional principle of ‘state’s rights.’ That falsehood attempts to sanitize the past,” Baptist writes. At every Democratic party national convention, “participants made it explicit: they were seceding because they thought secession would protect the future of slavery.”
So why is it important to revisit this history now, nearly 150 years after slavery ended?
Baptist argues that our understanding — or misunderstanding — of slavery has policy implications for the present. (In that way, the book is complementary reading to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ much talked-about Case For Reparations). “If slavery was outside of US history, for instance — if indeed it was a drag and not a rocket booster to American economic growth — then slavery was not implicated in US growth, success, power and wealth,” Baptist writes. “Therefore none of the massive quantities of wealth and treasure piled by that economic growth is owed to African Americans.” Anyone who believes that, his book aims to show, really hasn’t heard the half of it.
by ‘JeffCo Parent’ –theGrio.com
Large-scale student protests and “teacher sick-out” school closures have recently thrust the school board of Jefferson County, Colorado, into the spotlight.
I am a parent of three students in the district, and I have watched with growing alarm the conduct of the school board. I have asked theGrio.com to anonymously publish this piece due to the fact that several people who are publicly speaking out against the conservative board majority are being subjected to harassment and threats against their families.
The community reaction is the result of several controversial actions taken by the three conservative members of the Jefferson County School Board: Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams (commonly referred to together as WNW).
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If it can be said that real men don’t hit women, then we should also say real men don’t beat children.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on a felony charge for beating his four-year-old son with a switch — a tree branch — in an act that exceeded “reasonable discipline” according to the Montgomery County, Texas, District Attorney’s office. The NFL player punished his son for pushing another one of his children off of a motorbike video game, and Peterson said the whooping was not unlike the discipline “he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas.”
The boy reportedly suffered from numerous injuries, including cuts and wounds to his ankles, legs, hands, back, buttocks and scrotum. The child also said his father hit him with belts and put leaves in his mouth while he was being hit, pants down, with the switch.
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by Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman -Bloomberg View
Bloomberg View: When the New York City banker James Brown tallied his wealth in 1842, he had to look far below Wall Street to trace its origins. His investments in the American South exceeded $1.5 million, a quarter of which was directly bound up in the ownership of slave plantations.
Brown was among the world’s most powerful dealers in raw cotton, and his family’s firm, Brown Brothers & Co., served as one of the most important sources of capital and foreign exchange to the U.S. economy. Still, no small amount of his time was devoted to managing slaves from the study of his Leonard Street brownstone in Lower Manhattan.
Brown was hardly unusual among the capitalists of the North. Nicholas Biddle’s United States Bank of Philadelphia funded banks in Mississippi to promote the expansion of plantation lands. Biddle recognized that slave-grown cotton was the only thing made in the U.S. that had the capacity to bring gold and silver into the vaults of the nation’s banks. Likewise, the architects of New England‘s industrial revolution watched the price of cotton with rapt attention, for their textile mills would have been silent without the labor of slaves on distant plantations.
The story we tell about slavery is almost always regional, rather than national. We remember it as a cruel institution of the southern states that would later secede from the Union. Slavery, in this telling, appears limited in scope, an unfortunate detour on the nation’s march to modernity, and certainly not the engine of American economic prosperity.
Yet to understand slavery’s centrality to the rise of American capitalism, just consider the history of an antebellum Alabama dry-goods outfit called Lehman Brothers or a Rhode Island textile manufacturer that would become the antecedent firm of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Reparations lawsuits (since dismissed) generated evidence of slave insurance policies by Aetna and put Brown University and other elite educational institutions on notice that the slave-trade enterprises of their early benefactors were potential legal liabilities. Recent state and municipal disclosure ordinances have forced firms such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wachovia Corp. to confront unsettling ancestors on their corporate family trees.
Such revelations are hardly surprising in light of slavery’s role in spurring the nation’s economic development. America’s “take-off” in the 19th century wasn’t in spite of slavery; it was largely thanks to it. And recent research in economic history goes further: It highlights the role that commodified human beings played in the emergence of modern capitalism itself.
The U.S. won its independence from Britain just as it was becoming possible to imagine a liberal alternative to the mercantilist policies of the colonial era. Those best situated to take advantage of these new opportunities — those who would soon be called “capitalists” — rarely started from scratch, but instead drew on wealth generated earlier in the robust Atlantic economy of slaves, sugar and tobacco. Fathers who made their fortunes outfitting ships for distant voyages begat sons who built factories, chartered banks, incorporated canal and railroad enterprises, invested in government securities, and speculated in new financial instruments.
This recognizably modern capitalist economy was no less reliant on slavery than the mercantilist economy of the preceding century. Rather, it offered a wider range of opportunities to profit from the remote labor of slaves, especially as cotton emerged as the indispensable commodity of the age of industry.
In the North, where slavery had been abolished and cotton failed to grow, the enterprising might transform slave-grown cotton into clothing; market other manufactured goods, such as hoes and hats, to plantation owners; or invest in securities tied to next year’s crop prices in places such as Liverpool and Le Havre. This network linked Mississippi planters and Massachusetts manufacturers to the era’s great financial firms: the Barings, Browns and Rothschilds.
A major financial crisis in 1837 revealed the interdependence of cotton planters, manufacturers and investors, and their collective dependence on the labor of slaves. Leveraged cotton — pledged but not yet picked — led overseers to whip their slaves to pick more, and prodded auctioneers to liquidate slave families to cover the debts of the overextended.
The plantation didn’t just produce the commodities that fueled the broader economy, it also generated innovative business practices that would come to typify modern management. As some of the most heavily capitalized enterprises in antebellum America, plantations offered early examples of time-motion studies and regimentation through clocks and bells. Seeking ever-greater efficiencies in cotton picking, slaveholders reorganized their fields, regimented the workday, and implemented a system of vertical reporting that made overseers into managers answerable to those above for the labor of those below.
The perverse reality of a capitalized labor force led to new accounting methods that incorporated (human) property depreciation in the bottom line as slaves aged, as well as new actuarial techniques to indemnify slaveholders from loss or damage to the men and women they owned. Property rights in human beings also created a lengthy set of judicial opinions that would influence the broader sanctity of private property in U.S. law.
So important was slavery to the American economy that on the eve of the Civil War, many commentators predicted that the North would kill “its golden goose.” That prediction didn’t come to pass, and as a result, slavery’s importance to American economic development has been obscured.
But as scholars delve deeper into corporate archives and think more critically about coerced labor and capitalism — perhaps informed by the current scale of human trafficking — the importance of slavery to American economic history will become inescapable.
(Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman, historians at Harvard University and Brown University respectively, are co-editing “Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development,” to be published by University of Pennsylvania Press in 2013. The opinions expressed are their own.)
LeVar Burton has a genteel persona thanks to his iconic role on Star Trek: The Next Generationand his hosting gig on Reading Rainbow, but he doesn’t mince words when it comes to defending the series that made him famous — Roots.
The legendary 1977 miniseries based on Alex Haley’s slavery-themed novel is being remade by the History Channel. The original film was criticized by filmmaker Quentin Tarantino as inauthentic around the time his hit slavery revenge epic Django Unchained was released.
“When you look at Roots, nothing about it rings true in the storytelling, and none of the performances ring true for me either,” said Tarantino last December. “It didn’t move me because it claimed to be something it wasn’t.”
Burton, who admits he admires Django, still slammed Tarantino’s comparison in a New York magazine interview.
“Django Unchained is a fantasy, let’s be clear,” Burton said. “And when Quentin Tarantino says thatDjango is more real than Roots, I call bullsh*t. I got nothing against him, but don’t go there, okay? Don’t go there, Quentin.”
He added, “Too many people who look like me bled and died for you to have the opportunity to satirize the slave narrative. There’s a place for satire in culture. Taken at face value, as a piece of satire, I went and enjoyed it. It was fun. Let’s just not get it twisted. Django was not real.”