Eager to discuss African American participation in the Civil War, we are nonetheless troubled by the aura of Confederate nostalgia surrounding the ceremony, as well as the news coverage that (at least in the Charlotte-area press) seemed intent on calling the ten men Confederate soldiers or veterans.
Everything you have heard about the film 12 Years a Slave is true; it is exceptionally well acted, gorgeously filmed, and brutally honest about antebellum slavery. There are moments that are extremely difficult to watch and this is as it should be, leaving audiences stunned into numbness. Film critics and historians alike have praised it as a watershed in the depiction of slavery in American cinema, and this is certainly true. Nevertheless, the film demonstrates that Hollywood has not yet fully caught up with current interpretations of slave life in the antebellum South.
Goree Island is not the only site of slave trade remembrance on the African coast. Further south, in Ghana, there are two prominent warehouses, most often referred to as the slave castles at Cape Coast and Elmina, that are part of a thriving tourism trade catering mainly to black American travelers, many of whom are on roots journeys to “return home.” Just as Post reporter Fisher is right for asking critical questions related to Obama’s photo op at Goree Island, we can profit from asking challenging questions about a tourist trade that offers an uncomplicated reconciliation and welcome home at the same time that it traffics in horror.
It is fitting that in this 80th anniversary year of the 1933 rally the North Carolina NAACP is once again in the headlines, this time for its leading role in the recent Moral Monday protests at the state legislature.
I still rely on and value deeply these brick-and-mortar archives, but my research in Jim Crow Wisdom has taught me to value the archive of the imagination as well. Like any archive, the imagination is a place that is fundamentally about assemblage: a mixture of our best efforts to remember the past accurately, the eroding effects of time, and a desire for narrative clarity and poignancy. Relying on the imagination for its archival properties is central to this book and helps us develop a richer sense of memory and of history.
The modern civil rights movement fought for racial equality and to create an interracial “beloved community.” People in the movement did not make a distinction between action in the schools, the voting booth, or the streets toward those goals. Education was another arena for fighting racism and securing equal resources and opportunity. Seeing school desegregation as an integral part of the civil rights movement reminds us that an equal education is a basic human right that has been fought for but not yet achieved, and that overcoming racism in the classroom as in the community remains a moral imperative. For many local people, like Suzy Post, in Louisville and Jefferson County, the civil rights movement continues because the struggle to protect desegregation and through it achieve educational equity and better human understanding has not yet been won.
The film tells the story of Solomon Northrup (Ejiofor), a free man and fiddle-player from New York who was drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery in Louisiana. It explores Northrup’s efforts to retain his dignity in the face of inhumanity as he longs for the family he was taken from and hopes for freedom throughout time in the employ of three different masters, ranging from a kindly preacher (Benedict Cumberbatch) to a cruel plantation owner (Fassbender). Remarkably, and horrifically, the story is a true one.
Photos from Adrian Miller’s “Soul Food” launch party extravaganza at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library in Denver
Even though the museum recognizes Smith’s protest, if only barely, her protest tells us something valuable about the production of history and the sanctification of certain experiences over others. Here, a single person with a particular set of memories and a determination to remember a figure of such importance as King in a specific way finds herself facing an institution with a public commitment to remembrance that has become her own horror.
A historical examination of segregated schooling in North Carolina warns against a hasty retreat from efforts to create diverse classrooms and equitable opportunity.
When rumors of “development” encroach upon areas with rich historical backgrounds, they most likely will find a wall of resistance waiting. This is the current situation in the Virginia Peninsula, where the site of the Battle of Williamsburg is now vulnerable to such an unfortunate fate.
For historians of school desegregation, Louisville’s story challenges a narrative that has been dominated by resistance, disillusion, and failure. For citizens, these stories remind us how our predecessors struggled for equality in education and inspire us to keep up a fight that is far from over.
Of course, white employers typically believed that their cooks loved them and cooked for them out of that love. When Ms. Deen claimed that she and Ms. Charles were “soul sisters,” she fell squarely into the tradition of declaring an employee to be just like a member of the family.
Historians Anthea D. Butler, Minkah Makalani, and Robin D. G. Kelley respond to the acquittal of George Zimmerman.
In an interview with North Carolina Bookwatch host D. G. Martin, Cecelski describes the many threads he followed to unlock the mystery of Abraham Galloway, now proudly identifying him as a part of the pantheon of North Caorlina’s greatest heroes. Cecelski delves into the leadership Galloway exerted before, during, and after the Civil War.