Breaking News

When the past is present…

“…The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.” James Baldwin


Inside a Report on Slavery and Its Legacy

The names of the slaves line the pages of the 19th-century ledger books. Hundreds of names. Harriett. Warwick. Godfrey. Squire Lockett. Nathan York. Robert. Solomon. Alfred.

A ledger that includes slave policy information is on display at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Credit George Etheredge for The New York Times

In the 1840s, New York Life, the nation’s third-largest life insurance company, sold 508 policies on enslaved men and women. The beneficiaries? Slaveholders, who collected cash after a slave’s untimely death.

I spent much of the year looking at institutions, particularly universities, that benefited from this painful period of American history; the idea was to better understand how the legacy of slavery reverberates through our own times. So as I studied the names in the fraying New York Life ledgers at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, I wondered: Could we identify their descendants?…



Read the complete story about how NYT reporter Rachel Swarns investigated and wrote about life insurance policies that allowed slave owners to recoup their slave’s “value” in the event of the slave’s untimely death.

More Breaking News here.


Obama: ‘America has not overcome legacy of slavery and Jim Crow’


Image courtesy of Comedy Central

During an interview with Trevor Noah, the host of “The Daily Show,” President Barack Obama spoke about the state of race relations in the United States.

The president noted that, in terms of race, the country “by no means overcome the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow and colonialism and racism.”

“Those who are not subject to racism can sometimes have blind spots,” he admitted when Noah, who is biracial as well and from South Africa, asked him how he approached conversations on race. However, the president noted that just because some people have a “lack of appreciation” for the lived experiences of others does not mean that they cannot learn or do not want to learn about it.

Read the entire article here

Watch the complete interview here

Read more Breaking News here


Join abhm this wednesday for a book talk @ the villard square library!

Meet Reggie Jackson, Robert S. Smith and Fran Kaplan, co-contributors to the third edition of A Time of Terror: A Survivor's Story

Meet Reggie Jackson, Robert S. Smith and Fran Kaplan, co-contributors to the third edition of A Time of Terror: A Survivor’s Story

Join us this Wednesday, December 14th from 6:00- 7:00 p.m. at the Villard Square Library for a book talk on Dr. Cameron’s autobiography A Time of Terror: A Survivor’s Story. Meet Reggie Jackson, Robert S. Smith and Fran Kaplan, co-contributors to the third edition of A Time of Terror by the late Dr. James Cameron and the only account of a lynching ever written by a survivor. The program will include readings from the book, an explanation of how it came to be, and a discussion of its relevance for today’s readers. A book signing by the co-contributors will follow the event.

Read more Breaking News here


This Definitive History of Racist Ideas Should Be Required Reading

By Lawrence Ross for

Ibram X. Kendi; the cover of his book, Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Ibram X. Kendi; the cover of his book, Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

There are some books that just demand space on your bookshelf—not just because they’re interesting but also because these books break new ground in a way that will enrich your intellectual life. A new book on racism, Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, written by Ibram X. Kendi, Ph.D., a University of Florida professor of Africana studies, is such a book.

The winner of the 2016 National Book Award for nonfiction, Kendi has done something that’s damn near impossible: write a book about racism that breaks new ground, while being written in a way that’s accessible to the nonacademic. If you’ve ever been interested in how racist ideas spread throughout the United States, this is the book to read. The Root talked to Kendi about what inspired the book, why white people have a hard time dealing with their own racism and whether racism can ever be eliminated.

Read the entire interview here

Read more Breaking News here


3 Adults and Baby Died In A Jail Run By Potential Homeland Security Head

By Ryan J. Reilly Senior Justice Reporter, The Huffington Post

screenshot-2016-12-01-10-11-18…Four people, including a newborn baby, have died at the Milwaukee County Jail since April. One man, a 38-year-old with mental health issues, died of “profound dehydration.” For a facility with a population cap of 960 that previously averaged a couple of deaths per year, the string of deaths is concerning.

[A court-appointed medical monitor, Dr. Ronald Shanksy, has interviewed staffers at the jail that Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke runs.] During his visit, Shanksy said he was alarmed by the “extremely large number of vacancies” at the facility, particularly for medical positions.

“Questions certainly can be raised about the occurrence of these four recent deaths and the relationship to officer shortages … as well as the health care staffing vacancies and the adequacy of oversight of staff,” Shanksy wrote.

Now Clarke may be overseeing a much larger operation. Clarke was in New York City once again this week to meet with President-elect Donald Trump. He’s reportedly in the running to take over the Department of Homeland Security, and said he would accept a Trump cabinet position if asked.

Clarke’s national profile rose a few years ago when he began making regular appearances on Fox News in late 2014 to talk about policing after the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police killing of Michael Brown. Since then, he’s made a name for himself by providing a voice for those who want to believe there’s nothing wrong with our criminal justice system and to ignore America’s historic racial inequalities.

screenshot-2016-12-01-10-11-46Clarke, who grew up in a white neighborhood and attended a mostly white private high school, has said African Americans sell drugs “because they’re uneducated, they’re lazy, and they’re morally bankrupt.” He calls Black Lives Matter “Black Lies Matter” and compared them to the KKK. He once claimed that “police brutality ended in the 1960s.” Clarke made an appearance in July at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where RNC delegates gave him a standing ovation as he proclaimed “Blue Lives Matter” and celebrated the acquittal of a Baltimore officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray….

A recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial said Clarke’s office had been “shamefully silent” about the deaths and hasn’t provided records regarding outside investigations that the county is legally required to have. 

“Maybe Clarke thinks the peasants of Milwaukee County don’t need to know what’s happening at the jail. Maybe he’s hoping for a call from President-elect Donald Trump (for whom he campaigned so eagerly while people were dying in his jail) so that he can walk away from doing his job,” the editorial said. “Whatever his faulty reasoning, he’s wrong. Clarke owes the public answers about the deaths and about the state of inmate care at the jail. And the public deserves a sheriff who will do his job.”

Read the full article here.

More Breaking News here.



Black women voted for white women — and white women voted for themselves

By LaSha from

(Credit: Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

(Credit: Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

From the time she officially announced her candidacy, I had been adamant that I would not vote for Hillary Clinton. Whatever common experiences we shared because of our womanhood were not enough to make me overlook my legitimate concerns over her political positions and history. I’m a black woman. There was no amount of resentment for Clinton that would have made me vote for Donald Trump. No, I was not with her, but I wasn’t even on the same planet as him.

That Donald Trump, with no prior political experience, was elected to the highest office of the most powerful country on earth was shocking. What exit poll data revealed was utterly astounding. More than half of the white women who voted — 53 percent — had voted for Donald Trump.

White women had everything to gain, or at least maintain, by electing Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Beyond the historical significance of electing the first woman — a white woman — president of the United States, Clinton’s policies would have no doubt been more female-friendly than Trump’s, who has said he would appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices in a signal of support for overturning Roe v. Wade, and has even argued that women should suffer punishment for having abortions. Trump has an unabashedly misogynist constituency to appease. That appeasement will most likely come at the cost of women’s rights.

But still, white women, across borders of income and education, supported him…Racist white women held firm to the fact that they may be women — oppressed, marginalized and preyed upon — but at least they’re still white. Trump, in coded language, promised to preserve that whiteness. He promised them that even fighting for the right to make choices for their own bodies and paid less, they’d still have the power of their whiteness.

Read more of the article here

Read more Breaking News here


Black Holocaust Museum, apartments approved

By , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A proposal to create apartments and a new home for America’s Black Holocaust Museum on Milwaukee’s north side provides an opportunity for people to better understand this country’s racial divisions, the development’s supporters said Monday.

ABHM will be re-established on its old footprint on 4th & North Avenue in Milwaukee WI. The apartment building above it in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood will be called The Griot, in honor of ABHM founder and lynching survivor, Dr. James Cameron.

ABHM will be re-established on its old footprint on 4th & North Avenue in Milwaukee WI. The apartment building above it in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood will be called The Griot, in honor of ABHM founder and lynching survivor, Dr. James Cameron.

It’s important to have places where people can “explore how one we are, and how there is no ‘other,'” Brad Pruitt, a museum spokesman, said at Monday’s meeting of the Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee.

The committee voted 5-0 to recommend approval of the $16.6 million development, which will include $1.4 million in city funds. Those funds will be repaid through new property taxes from the apartments.

Maures Development Group LLC and J. Jeffers & Co. plan to renovate the former Garfield Avenue Elementary School, 2215 N. 4th St., and build a new apartment building with street-level commercial space, including the museum, just north of the former school.

The three-story former school will be converted into 30 affordable apartments.

The former America’s Black Holocaust Museum, 2235 N. 4th St., and a vacant building, 411 W. North Ave., will be demolished to make way for a new four-story building, known as The Griot, with the museum, a possible cafe and 41 affordable and market-rate apartments.

The museum was founded by James Cameron, the survivor of an attempted lynching….

The museum “has helped me better understand my country, for better or worse,” said Ald. Nik Kovac, a zoning committee member.

The development is to be completed by April 2018.

You can help make this museum a reality by making a tax-deductible donation here. Thank you!


Whitelash and Blacklash

By Sharon Leslie Morgan and Thomas Norman DeWolf, Beacon Broadside

[Editor’s note: Normally we excerpt articles, posting only a portion and including a link back to the original article. This time, however, because many visitors to ABHM are struggling to make sense of the election and what to do now, we have decided to post this article in its entirety for the perspectives and wisdom its authors offer. Sharon Morgan and Thomas DeWolf keynoted ABHM’s Founder’s Day Gathering for Racial Repair and Reconciliation in 2014.]

Whitelash: from Thomas Norman DeWolf

A week has passed since a man who repeatedly espoused intolerance, racism, sexism, and white/male supremacy, and incited violence against those who opposed him, was elected President of the United States. I still can’t wrap my head around it.

The president-elect has now appointed the former head of Breitbart News as his chief strategist and senior counselor; a man and an organization seen as the flagship of the so-called alt-right; people who espouse extreme anti-Semitic and white supremacist beliefs. This appointment is consistent with his entire campaign: a confirmation that intolerance, bigotry, and misogyny will be key policy components of the new administration. I’ve felt for several years that we have been making progress in the United States regarding issues of race, gender and religious tolerance and acceptance; equality, justice, respect and peace for all people. I want to believe we still are.

But…the election….

When I woke up Wednesday morning, my first thoughts were of our two granddaughters who would soon wake up and prepare to go to school. How do I explain to them that the man who incessantly spouts vulgar words they aren’t allowed to use, who is a horrible role model for children and adults, will now

Steve Bannon has been appointed chief advisor and strategist by the president-elect. "Darkness is good," Bannon told The Hollywood Reporter today. "Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That's power."

Steve Bannon, former head of Breitbart News, has been appointed chief advisor and strategist by the president-elect. “Darkness is good,” Bannon told The Hollywood Reporter today. “Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power.”

become President of the United States and leader of the free world? I shared on my blog what we talked about: intolerance and kindness; fear and love; as well as the responsibilities we have to support our values, our nation, and each other.

As a white man, I believe it is critically important that I, and all white people, listen to those who have been marginalized, people the president-elect and many of his supporters have targeted. Listen to what Van Jones said about Surviving the Whitelash. Watch Dave Chappelle’s monologue on Saturday Night Live. Listen to teachers who have students from other countries who are terrified they will be deported. Read about horrible, abusive acts committed since the election—perpetrated by people emboldened by the president-elect. The level of fear about what may happen soon, and for many years after, is understandably quite high.

Speaking specifically to white people, it is important for us first to listen to those who feel most vulnerable now. Then ask what we can do to support them. How can I be an effective ally? What can I do to help prevent the implementation of policies and actions that create more harm; that not only don’t “make America great again,” but, in fact, are contrary to the ideals upon which this nation was founded and has never truly lived up to. Based on what we’ve witnessed over the past year, and in the past week, we must remain vigilant and committed to truth, justice, equality, and peace.

Blacklash: from Sharon Leslie Morgan 

I could not believe my eyes as I watched the election returns on television. I stayed awake until the sun came up trying process the realization that the unthinkable happened; that the forward strides generations of people struggled and died for went swirling down a drain of ignorance and bigotry. I spent the day in a stupor, barely able to get out of bed. A week later, the media and sycophants that helped propel Trump to victory are mobilizing to normalize his image. I am in shock as the travesty continues to unfold with the selection of a rogue’s cabinet of morally reprehensible hypocrites and race-baiters.

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump's pick for attorney general, has a long record of opposing civil rights and animus against African Americans and immigrants.

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, has a long record of opposing civil rights and animus against African Americans and immigrants.

Like Tom, I was with my grandchildren during the days after the election. We had a similar conversation about human values, but mine was more focused on safety. The wave of terror that has been legitimized by Trump and is being exploited by his followers is a clear and present danger to the ones I love. My heart is heavy. I am sad, angry and afraid.

I get it that people are mad…mad at the system. I agree that the ENTIRE system is flawed and dysfunctional. But, Trump is NOT the solution. Rather, he is the embodiment of everything that is wrong. Anyone who thinks otherwise is guilty of cognitive dissonance that is apocalyptic. It is devastating to witness the fall of America into the hands of a megalomaniac on a mission to “make America great again” by undermining absolutely every principle of decency and fairness. Under Trump, things will get worse…much worse. The one-tenth of one percent will keep getting richer…phenomenally so. The rest of us will become even more impoverished through the loss of our social safety nets. The people who voted for him will be dismayed as he reveals his true nature as a man who cares nothing for anyone but himself.

Black Lives Matter protest against St. Paul police brutality. Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue

Black Lives Matter protest against St. Paul police brutality. Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue

I hope all right-thinking people will unite to resist and protest in every possible way. I am glad protesters are marching in the streets in cities across the land. I long to see a million women turn up in D.C. on inauguration day. I implore people to close their wallets and refuse to patronize Trump-owned businesses. I applaud sanctuary cities and pray they stand firm in their resolve to give refuge to undocumented immigrants. I need the ACLU and the SPLC to remain vigilant. I caution the Democratic Party to do some deep soul searching and find a strong voice of resistance in Congress. I pray Republicans will disavow the hateful rhetoric that put them in control. I beg that world leaders not give in to threats and intimidation. I urge EVERYONE to speak up and speak out.

Donald Trump is NOT my president. I cringe at the thought of the Trump family defiling the White House with their presence. I cannot imagine Melania Trump as the first lady of the United States. I feel as though we have experienced a coup d’état, and the only thing that will reverse it is a revolution.

Black Lives Matter protest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the day after the election. Photo by Barbara Miner.

Black Lives Matter protest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the day after the election. Photo by Barbara Miner.


Deep, authentic relationships with people we’ve been raised to see as “other” are key to understanding and reversing the impacts of racism and other forms of intolerance and inequity, and the misuse of power and privilege. For the two of us, there is solace in knowing that someone shares our beliefs and commitment to social justice. We have built a friendship over the years that helps sustain us. We can talk with and lean on each other in times of madness and sadness, as we did on election night and surely in days to come.

It is crucial that we take whatever action we can to support Black Lives Matter, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), and the many other organizations that champion the rights of women, members of the LGBTQ community, Muslims, disabled people, and immigrants. The time is right for initiatives such as the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation effort that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will launch in 2017 in partnership with more than one hundred public, private, and non-profit organizations throughout the United States. We also urge you to get involved with organizations like Coming to the Table that “provides leadership, resources and a supportive environment for all who wish to acknowledge and heal wounds from racism that is rooted in the United States’ history of slavery.” CTTT’s focus on establishing affiliate groups that create safe spaces for people to gather together to hear each other’s stories, to learn about each other, and to build relationships and understanding, is a critically important resource in the days and years ahead.

Our training in Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) teaches that humans, when confronted with danger, have an immediate impulse to either flee or fight. We can’t flee because this is our country. We live here. We have no choice but to endure whatever comes. But that does not mean we should go silently. Use your voice. Do what you can. We must not abrogate our responsibility to our children, grandchildren, and future generations. Through it all, we must realize how much we need each other. Now, more than ever, we must stand strong TOGETHER and not let the powers of darkness obliterate the light.

About the Authors 

Sharon Leslie Morgan and Thomas Norman DeWolfSharon Leslie Morgan and Thomas Norman DeWolf are co-authors of Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade. Both are deeply involved in the work of Coming to the Table, which provides leadership, resources and a supportive environment for all who wish to acknowledge and heal wounds from racism rooted in the US history of slavery.


Attorney General Loretta Lynch: You Must Continue To Report Hate Crimes

By Lilly Workneh- The Huffington Post

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Attorney General Loretta Lynch is urging Americans to report any hate crimes they witness to both their local law enforcement and the Justice Department.

In a video statement she released on Friday, Lynch acknowledged the recent report released by the FBI that announced a national surge of 67 percent in anti-Muslim attacks in 2015 and an overall uptick of hate crimes by 6.7 percent last year in comparison to 2014. She also addressed the spike in alleged hate crimes that have been reported in the days since President-elect Donald Trump’s victory and encouraged Americans to continue to report these incidents while the FBI investigates whether or not they “constitute violations of federal law.”

“We need you to continue to report these incidents to local law enforcement, as well as the Justice Department, so that our career investigators and prosecutors can take action to defend your rights,” Lynch said in the video.

Read the full article here

Read more Breaking News here


Research says calling people racist doesn’t reduce racial bias


Mark Makela/Getty Images

Mark Makela/Getty Images

In 2016, researchers stumbled on a radical tactic for reducing another person’s bigotry: a frank, brief conversation.

The study, authored by David Broockman at Stanford University and Joshua Kalla at the University of California Berkeley, looked at how simple conversations can help combat anti-transgender attitudes. In the research, people canvassed the homes of more than 500 voters in South Florida. The canvassers, who could be trans or not, asked the voters to simply put themselves in the shoes of trans people — to understand their problems — through a 10-minute, non-confrontational conversation. The hope was that the brief discussion could lead people to reevaluate their biases.

It worked. The trial found not only that voters’ anti-trans attitudes declined but that they remained lower three months later, showing an enduring result. And those voters’ support for laws that protect trans people from discrimination increased, even when they were presented with counterarguments for such laws.

 …It is possible to reduce people’s racial anxiety and prejudices. And the canvassing idea was regarded as very promising. But, researchers cautioned, the process of reducing people’s racism will take time and, crucially, empathy… This will require conversations. Maybe it will be through canvassing by activists, much like the transgender study. Maybe churches and schools can take on public education campaigns. Maybe these and other civic institutions can facilitate public forums in which people can openly discuss these problems.

The key to these conversations, though, is empathy. And it will take a lot of empathy — not just for one conversation but many, many conversations in several settings over possibly many years. It won’t be easy, but if we want to address some people’s deeply entrenched racial attitudes, it may be the only way.

Read the full article here

Read more Breaking News here