Posts tagged history
Posts tagged history
Well dear readers, I have been watching a lot of documentaries lately (the product of waiting to go back to work) so I thought I would share the one’s I have seen and my thoughts with you. However, the list alone is a multi-page word document (when I commit, I commit; Oops) so I will start with the list of African American specific documentaries and go from there:
America Beyond the Color Line (2005)
Between Black and White (1994)
Black American Conservatism: An Exploration of Ideas (1992)
Black Like Who? (1997)
Eyes on the Prize Series (1987)
- Awakenings, 1954-1956
- Fighting Back, 1957-1962
- Ain’t Scared of Your Jails, 1960-1961
- No Easy Walk 1962-1966
- Mississippi, Is This America, 1962-1964
- Bridge to Freedom, 1965
- The Time Has Come, 1964-1965
- Two Societies, 1965-1968
- Power! 1967-1968
- The Promised Land, 1967-1968
- Ain’t Gonna Shuffle No More, 1964-1972
- A Nation of Law?, 1967-1968
- The Keys to the Kingdom, 1974-1980
- Back to the Movement, 1979-mid 1980s
Fannie Lou Hamer: Voting Rights Activists (2009)
Just Black?: Multi-Racial Identity (1992)
Lady Day Sings the Blues (2005)
Passin’ It On: the Black Panthers’ Search for Justice (2006)
Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man, Celebrated Writer (2009)
Roads to Memphis: the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (2010)
Secret Daughter (1996)
Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change (2007)
Soul Food Junkies (2012)
The Black List: Volume 1 (2008)
The Black List: Volume 2 (2009)
The Black List: Volume 3
The Darker Side of Black (1996)
The Mirror Lied (1999)
The Two Nations of Black America (2008)
We Shall Overcome (1988)
I think this is an apt companion/response to this. Because you need more than 4 minutes.
Freedom Means Vote For Fannie Lou Hamer, 1964
Part of the Oakland Museum collection of political posters.
Terms like ‘women of color’ are not just descriptions, but have political and ideological histories and current meanings. Here’s a clip of Loretta Ross, cofounder and national coordinator of SisterSong -Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, sharing one of the birthing moments of the term ‘women of color’.
h/t to a.p.
“Y’all know where the term women of color came from? Who can say that? See we’re bad at transmitting history. In 1977 a group of black women from Washington D.C went to the National Women’s Conference that Jimmy Carter had given 5 million dollars to have as part of the World Decade for Women, there was a conference in Houston, TX. This group of black women carried to that conference something called Black Women’s Agenda because the organizers of the conference, Bella Abu, Elise Miller, what have you, had put together a three page Minority Women’s Plank (Laughs) and a two hundred page document that these black women thought was somewhat inadequate (group laughs). And so they actually formed a group called Black Women’s Agenda to come there in Houston with a Black Womens’ Plan of Action that they wanted the delegates to vote to substitute for the Minority Plank that was in the proposed plan of action. Well funny thing happened in Houston, when they took the Black Women’s Agenda to Houston, then all the rest of minority women of color wanted to be included to the Black Women’s Agenda. Okay? Well they agreed except that you could no longer call it the Black Women’s Agenda. And it was in those negotiations in Houston the term women of color was created. Okay? And they didn’t see it as a biological designation, you’re born Asian, you’re born Black, you’re born African-American, whatever, it is a solidarity definition, a commitment to work in collaboration with other oppressed women of color who have been minoritized. Now what’s happened in the thirty years since then is that people see it as biology now. Like okay, I’m- and and and people say “I don’t want to be defined as a woman of color, I am Black, I am Asian-American, well that’s fine, but why are you reducing a political designation to a biological destiny? That’s what white supremacy wants you to do. (Laughs.) Now, and I think it’s a setback. When we disintegrate as People of Color, you know, around primitive ethnic claiming, yes, we are Asian-American, Native American, whatever, but the point is when you choose to work with other people who are minoritized by oppression you have lifted yourself out of that basic identity into another political being, another political space. And unfortunately, so many times, people of color hear the term people of color from other White people, and think White people created it instead of understanding that, that we self-named ourselves, this is a term that has a lot of power for us. But we’ve done the poorest job of communicating that history so people understand that power.”
Harriet Powers (1837-1910) was an African American slave and folk artist that would find recognition for her complicated quilt work. Sadly only two of her quilts survive today; they are her Bible Quilt (1886) and her Pictorial Quilt (1898) which can be found at the National Museum of American History and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, respectively. Her quilts would make their first public debut in 1886 at a cotton fair. Impressed by the work, a teacher at the Lucy Cobb Institute named Jennie Smith offered to buy Powers’s Bible Quilt; she refused to sell it but would after five years due to financial necessity. At the time of the sell, Powers explained the imagery on the quilt and Smith recorded their meaning. The origin of the second quilt is not as clear, but it is known to have been presented to the chairman of the board of trustees at Atlanta University in 1898. Her quilts are renowned for their rich storytelling and African and African American stylistic influences. Her figures are intricately stitched appliques and celestial bodies figure heavily in her work. Although we do have recordings of the meanings of her works, it is not known how much influence the recorders had on the meanings. It is possible that Powers originally intended to use her quilts as a way to teach Biblical stories despite being illiterate. In 2009 she would be inducted into Georgia Women of Achievement.
Abolitionist and women’s right activist Sojourner Truth, 1864.
Sojourner sold these cartes-de-visite at her lectures in order to support herself and pay off her debts. Cards were sold in two sizes for 33 cents and 50 cents ($7.60 and $11.50 in today’s money).
Read “Sojourner’s Ain’t I a Woman?” speech here.
"I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance."
The Wide Lens of History and the Conjoined Realities of Our Past
by Krista Tippett, host
I always read the MacArthur “genius” grant lists with great interest. They uncover people who are making great marks on the world in their chosen fields, but are usually out of the spotlight. This year the name that jumped out at me was Tiya Miles. I was intrigued with the description of her as a “public historian” illuminating the meaning of “ancestry and citizenship.” There was a personal connection for me, too, as the particular history she’s unearthed has resonance with the world of my childhood in Oklahoma, the former Indian Territory.
I grew up hearing a family legend about a Cherokee ancestor, though it was transmitted with little detail or enthusiasm. Tiya Miles’ African-American grandmother also had such a story, and she told it with pride. She had endless stories, and the vital link she made between past and present inspired her granddaughter. Tiya Miles took up the study of history. Then, as a graduate student, she stumbled upon the little-remembered history of some Native Americans, Cherokee landowners who held African-American slaves.
This is of course not merely a story about Cherokee people and black people but about all of us, all of our ancestors. The Cherokee were deemed one of the “Five Civilized Tribes” by the American government of that era. Growing up on land first given to, then taken away from, these indigenous peoples, I never questioned the backhanded presumption in this label they were given. Now, in conversation with Tiya Miles, I learn that their honored status was earned and conferred in part because of their “civilized” behavior of holding slaves.
This memory is as tragically nonsensical as any in the institution of slavery — so hard to reckon with and make sense of, it seems, that it literally fell away. Tiya Miles’ curiosity was first captured by a footnote about what was described as the first Afro-Cherokee marriage. She doggedly pursued a nearly non-existent trail to discover that this “marriage” was between a middle-class Cherokee landowner in his 40s and a teenage slave girl he had bought or procured by force. He had five children by her. He later won their freedom, but he never made her free. In arguing for their children, in fact, he proclaimed publicly that he had “debased” himself by bringing them into the world through union with her.
Tiya Miles’ other ground-breaking research has unfolded across a number of years at the Chief Vann House in Georgia — a grand antebellum plantation owned by a wealthy Cherokee chief. She is a lover of old houses. She knew that slaves worked this plantation as every other. But when she went for a tour of the house and its history in the 1990s, no mention was made of these hundreds of human beings who yielded the abundance of that land. They had been forgotten, nearly erased from memory. Tiya Miles vowed to create a more ethical telling of their story.
She is keenly aware of the complexity, indeed the multitudinous slippery slopes, of setting out to tell a story — any story — more ethically. As an historian, she is nearly haunted by her knowledge that every story can be told differently from many different angles. Her approach is fresh and innovative — and the emerging field of public history is distinctive — in its insistence on setting stories this painful in a context that can hold both the hardest truths and the seeds of their own healing.
I love the idea of looking more deeply at history to find vital openings, new possibilities, for starting fresh in the present. In the history of this radio program, my conversations have revealed this possibility over and over again — from looking more closely at Charles Darwin in order to reframe the “science-religion” divide or how Kwame Anthony Appiah has looked at history to see the surprising ingredients that allow profound societal and moral change to happen. I take heart in Tiya Miles’ learned insistence that even the most painful and divisive history is about “conjoined realities” — and that a wide historical lens will always reveal human beings’ connections to each other as something more generous than the darkest moments of our past.
When legendary civil rights activist Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth died today, many Americans had no idea who he was or what he’d accomplished in his 89 years on earth. It’s an unfortunate reality that people often think Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X were the beginning and end of black activism in the Civil Rights era. In fact, nothing could be more wrong. From the 1950s onward, Shuttlesworth was a major factor in ending Jim Crow laws in the South, and many other oppressive forces throughout the United States. Here are the top five things you should know about him.
1. From the start of his career, Shuttlesworth, who was raised poor in Alabama, was fiery and obstinate. After Alabama officially banned the NAACP from operating within the state in 1956, Shuttlesworth, then a pastor, founded the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. The ACMHR’s first major order of business was a Birmingham bus sit-in, during which Shuttlesworth and others boarded city buses and sat in the “whites only” sections. The ACMHR would eventually become charter member organization in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
2. He lived nearly nine decades, but many people tried to kill Shuttlesworth much earlier for his outspokenness. He was the target of two bomb attacks, one on his home and one on his church. And when Shuttlesworth tried to enroll his daughters in an all-white Birmingham school in 1957, an armed mob attacked him, beating him unconscious and stabbing his wife. The couple survived, and when a doctor remarked that Shuttlesworth was lucky to have avoided a concussion,Shuttlesworth said, “Doctor, the Lord knew I lived in a hard town, so he gave me a hard head.”
3. Though he worked closely with King, Shuttlesworth’s style was decidedly different. “Among the youthful ‘elders’ of the movement,” historian Diane McWhorter told The New York Times, “he was Martin Luther King’s most effective and insistent foil: blunt where King was soothing, driven where King was leisurely, and most important, confrontational where King was conciliatory—meaning, critically, that he was more upsetting than King in the eyes of the white public.” Despite their differences, King once called Shuttlesworth ”the most courageous civil rights fighter in the South.”
4. Shuttlesworth’s fiercest enemy in Birmingham was infamous public safety commissioner Bull Connor. Connor’s violent responses—attack dogs, fire hoses, billy clubs—to Shuttlesworth’s peaceful demonstrations were integral in changing America’s attitude about Jim Crow. “The televised images of Connor directing handlers of police dogs to attack unarmed demonstrators and firefighters’ using hoses to knock down children had a profound effect on American citizens’ view of the civil rights struggle,” says the Shuttlesworth Foundation’s website.
5. After his actions helped spawn the passage of the federal Civil Rights Act in 1964, Shuttlesworth continued fighting for justice in realms both racial and economic. In 1988 he founded the Shuttlesworth Housing Foundation to help low-income families own their own homes, and in 2004 he became president of the SCLC. A firebrand to the end, he resigned from the SCLC within months, saying “deceit, mistrust and a lack of spiritual discipline and truth have eaten at the core of this once-hallowed organization.” Three years ago, the city of Birmingham named its airport after Shuttlesworth. There are still no monuments named after Bull Connor.
Wilma Burgess (1939-2003) singing “Sweet Promises” on the Wilburn Brothers Show. Burgess was a lesbian who usually refused to sing love songs that did not leave the gender of the lover ambiguous, although she would sometimes make exceptions as long as her producer promised to also let her pick a song he didn’t like as well. During the ’80s, she also opened Nashville’s first women-only bar, The Hitching Post.
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August 28, 1963 - Images from the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom