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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


Nelson Mandela’s Archives Now Available Online

Mandela archives now available online

Mandela archives now available online

At a news conference in Johannesburg Tuesday, Mandela’s archivists and Google said their $1.25 million project to digitally preserve a record of the anti-apartheid leader’s life is now online. The project was first announced a year ago.

Researchers — and anyone else — from around the world now have access to hundreds of documents, photographs and videos. The archive has been launched with more than 1,900 entries, and more are being added.


With a Black President, Race Talk Is Harder

Right now the nation has embarked on a massive conversation about race surrounding the tragic death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida. On Friday, President Obama weighed in. “I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out: How does something like this happen?” he said.

It’s an important conversation to have — but I fear it won’t lead anywhere. After all, we’ve seen plenty of these debates in recent years, invariably prompted by some tragedy or controversy. Think Troy Davis. Or Shirley Sherrod. Or Jeremiah Wright. Or Henry Louis Gates Jr. Or even Rodney King. We have big debates over racial prejudice and disparities in this country, and then nothing happens.

I thought things would be different by now.


A New Book Takes a Fresh Look at Black Culture

Poet Kevin Young switches to prose with his latest work, The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness, a slick and witty critique of just what constitutes blackness in the mainstream. The book takes a critical look at how mass media and popular culture portray black culture. Through a collection of narratives and essays, Young makes a compelling argument that black culture is, indeed, American culture.


Milwaukee Public Schools are not full of thugs–Facebook campaign by students

Milwaukee Public Schools students are on a crusade to change the image of the district–

MPS students and graduates protest on facebook

MPS students and graduates protest on facebook

one Facebook page at a time. The goal is simple: Change the negative attitudes some people have about the district.

More than 100 MPS students and counting are changing their Facebook profile pictures to indicate that they are not thugs. Some pictures indicate the universities they will be attending in the fall. Other pictures indicate what MPS graduates are majoring in at their respective schools. Still others indicate what the future will bring.


The Lingering Legacy of Lynching and Trayvon Martin

When I learned that 17-year old Trayvon Martin was gunned down by a man who registered his boyish face and casual presence in his gated-community as dangerous, I once again felt the sorrow of mothers and fathers who for generations agonized over how best to protect their children from the horrors of lynching.

Hanging bodies of Abe Smith and Thomas Shipp, lynched in Marion IN 1930

Hanging bodies of Abe Smith and Thomas Shipp, lynched in Marion IN 1930

I am painfully aware that unlike Trayvon, Oscar Grant’s head was not covered by a hoodie when shot in the back by officers on a railway platform in Oakland, California in 2009. Nor was 49-year old James Craig Anderson’s when he was beaten and run over with a truck by a group of white teens in Brandon, Mississippi in 2011. When 14-year old Emmett Till’s mutilated body was dumped in the Tallahatchie River in 1955 and family patriarch, Anthony Crawford, was stabbed, beaten, shot, and hanged in Abbeville, South Carolina in 1916–neither of these victims of lynchings wore hoodies. What these black males have in common with Trayvon is that they were beloved by their families and friends, moving through life with many of the same values and dreams that we all share, yet someone else saw them as less than human.


Public Schools Constrain Blacks, Author Says

Lisa Delpit’s latest book, “Multiplication Is for White People”: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children, is another installment in the author’s crusade to expose the systemic issues with America’s public education system, and their effects on a growing achievement gap between whites and minorities.

Multiplication is for White People

Multiplication is for White People


Life and Style Skin tone, adoption and black children: Is colorism an issue?

African-American children make up 30 percent of the 500,000 children currently in the American foster care system, despite being only 14 percent of the U.S. population. On top of being over-represented, these youths are less frequently selected for adoption compared to other kids. Could the skin tone of black children play a role in whether they are chosen — especially if the family considering them is black?

Which child would be adopted?

Which child would be adopted?


Stereotypes Hurt Black-Teen Programs

New research shows that people might not be inclined to give to organizations that help African-American youths past elementary school age. According to the study, the stereotypes thrust upon black teens may be working overtime to turn off potential donors to the very projects designed to support these young people.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School found that those negative associations attached to black students (lazy, unreliable, dumb and irresponsible, to name a few) kicked in with more force as the students got older, and charitable support for them decreased at the same time.

Some funders discriminate against programs for black teens

Some funding sources discriminate against programs for black teens


Trayvon Martin, My Son, And The Black Male Code

I thought my son would be much older before I had to tell him about the Black Male Code. He’s only 12, still sleeping with stuffed animals, still afraid of the dark. But after the Trayvon Martin tragedy, I needed to explain to my child that soon people might be afraid of him.A black father with his son


Happy Birthday, Aretha Franklin, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Tony Cade Bambara, and Debi Thomas!

Learn about the lives and accomplishments of these talented American women!

Aretha (singer), Lisa (actor), Toni (writer/activist), and Debi (Olympic skater/surgeon)

Aretha Franklin (singer), Lisa Gay Hamilton (actor/director), Toni Cade Bambara (writer/activist), and Debi Thomas (Olympic skater/surgeon)