When Jack Daniel’s Failed to Honor a Slave, an Author Rewrote History

By: CLAY RISEN nytimes.com

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Amazon Is Developing An Alt-History Show Called ‘Black America’

By Zeba Blay, HuffPost Black Voices

Paras Griffin via Getty Images

Will Packer, the man behind the hit comedy “Girls Trip,” is bringing a new show to Amazon that might give HBO a run for its money.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Packer is teaming up “Boondocks” creator Aaron McGruder on “Black America,” a drama set in an alternate history in which freed African American slaves have been given control of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama as reparations following the Civil War.

Set in the present-day, the show will imagine a sovereign African-American nation called “New Colonia,” rapidly emerging as one of the leading industrialized nations in the world.

The announcement of “Black America” comes just days after HBO sparked controversy with the announcement of its own alternate history drama, “Confederate,” from the creators of “Game of Thrones,” which is set in an alternate reality in which the South had won the Civil War and slavery remains in present day.

Read the full article and reactions to the show’s announcement here.

Read about the importance of Black-owned, Black-run media here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Black hair restrictions in schools are a return to the Black Codes

By David A. Love, TheGrio.com

…As kids throughout the country get out of school for the summer, it is a perfect time to reflect on all of the Black children who, over the course of the past semester, have been punished, disciplined or otherwise called out and singled out for wearing braids, locks, natural hair or any other culturally expressive hairstyle. Studying while Black, apparently, is a thing.

The Cook sisters at Fenway Park.

Consider some of the outrageous incidents that have taken place. In the Boston area, 15-year-old twin sisters faced detention and suspension for wearing braids, which their charter school claimed was a violation of the dress code. Mya and Deanna Cook, sophomores at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, Mass., were banned from the prom and stripped of their extracurricular activities and sports team privileges for violating the school’s prohibition on wearing extensions.

…[In] 2009, a white Milwaukee teacher cut off the braid of Lamya Cannon, 7, because the girl was playing with her hair. After cutting off Lamya’s hair in front of the class, the teacher sent the girl back to her desk. Would this ever happen to a white girl with pigtails? And could we ever envision a Black teacher doing this to said white girl?…

Tiona Norris, a self-described “unapologetically black mom” of a young schoolgirl, tweeted this note from her daughter’s teacher and commented, factually,  that coconut oil has no stinky smell.

These days, when some in white America claim they are taking their country back, all the way up to the White House, it is no accident that Black children are punished for their Blackness. We know the studies about the disproportionate discipline against Black children, and black girls in particular. This is part of the school-to-prison pipeline, a regime of punishment following kids through adulthood. Most of all, it is an effort to monitor their bodies, not unlike the Black Codes established during Jim Crow to restrict the activities and labor of Black people and maintain white supremacy….

These codes, like the so-called dress codes in place at some schools today, serve the same purpose–to normalize whiteness and criminalize Blackness. When schools tell Black children the hair God gave them is an issue of bad hygiene and grooming, what they mean is they think Black people and their hair are less desirable. Some things never change. Institutional racism, not the hair, must change.

Read David A. Love’s article for TheGrio.com in its entirety here.

Read about how Black people are disproportionately punished in other institutions here.

Read about the Five Pillars of Jim Crow here.

Read about the education of Black children in the Jim Crow South here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Debunking a Myth: The Irish Were Not Slaves, Too

By

Nytimes.com

This 1908 photograph of fishermen in the parish of St. John, Barbados, is often used to illustrate memes that falsely claim Irish people were slaves in colonial America. Courtesy nytimes

It has shown up on Irish trivia Facebook pages, in Scientific American magazine, and on white nationalist message boards: the little-known story of the Irish slaves who built America, who are sometimes said to have outnumbered and been treated worse than slaves from Africa.

But it’s not true.

Historians say the idea of Irish slaves is based on a misreading of history and that the distortion is often politically motivated. Far-right memes have taken off online and are used as racist barbs against African-Americans. “The Irish were slaves, too,” the memes often say. “We got over it, so why can’t you?”

A small group of Irish and American scholars has spent years pushing back on the false history. Last year, 82 Irish scholars and writers signed an open letter denouncing the Irish slave myth and asking publications to stop mentioning it. Some complied, removing or revising articles that referenced the false claims, but the letter’s impact was limited.

Read the entire article here

Read more Breaking News here

This Day in History: Richard and Mildred Loving Plead Guilty to the Crime of Interracial Marriage

Photograph of Mildred Loving and Richard Loving dated June 12, 1967

By the Equal Justice Initiative

After marrying in Washington, D.C., in 1958, Richard and Mildred Loving returned to their native Caroline County, Virginia, to build a home and start a family. Their union was a criminal act in Virginia because Richard was white, Mildred was black, and the state’s Racial Integrity Act, passed in 1924, criminalized interracial marriage.

On January 6, 1959, the Lovings pleaded guilty to both charges. After their conviction and release, the Lovings fought the law that had branded their love a crime and, on June 12, 1967, won a United States Supreme Court decision that would change the nation.

Read more here

Read about the film adaption of their life 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 theroot.com

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

Malcom X Suggests Cure To Racism In Newly-Discovered Handwritten Letter

The letter is on sale for $1.25 million.

, The Huffington Post

A recently-discovered letter reportedly handwritten by Malcolm X in 1964 describes racism at that time as an “incurable cancer” that was “plaguing” America.

Los Angeles historic manuscript and letter dealer, Moments in Time, retrieved the six-page letter, reportedly written by the civil rights activist. It went on sale Sunday for $1.25 million.

A letter was recently discovered that is said to have been written by Malcolm X. (Photo credit: Gary Zimet)

The letter that was allegedly written by Malcolm X.  (Photo credit: Gary Zimet)

Gary Zimet, president and owner of Moments in Time, received the letter from a contact who discovered it in a storage locker in the Bronx, New York. Zimet has decided to keep the person’s name anonymous.

The letter details a monumental period in the late activist’s life — his 1964 pilgrimage to Mecca, the year prior to his assassination in 1965 in New York City…

Malcolm X describes his pilgrimage as “the most important event in the life of all Muslims,” and goes on to explain why his experience was so enlightening.

In regards to the legitimacy of this letter, Zaheer Ali, an oral historian who served as the project manager and senior researcher of the Malcolm X Project at Columbia University, says it’s likely this letter was actually written by Malcolm X.

“Based on everything I’ve seen, handwriting and context, I can confidently say that yes, this letter is his letter…The content is consistent, this isn’t uncommon. He was very prolific….”

Ali believes the letter’s message, addressing race and religion, is particularly timely today.

“However this letter surfaced, it surfaced at the right time.”

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Texas Mother Teaches Textbook Company a Lesson on Accuracy

By Manny Fernandez and Christine Hauser, New York Times

 

The page in a McGraw-Hill Education geography textbook that refers to Africans brought to American plantations as “workers,” rather than slaves. Credit Coby Burren

The page in a McGraw-Hill Education geography textbook that refers to Africans brought to American plantations as “workers,” rather than slaves. Credit Coby Burren

HOUSTON — Coby Burren, 15, a freshman at a suburban high school south of here, was reading the textbook in his geography class last week when a map of the United States caught his attention. On Page 126, a caption in a section about immigration referred to Africans brought to American plantations between the 1500s and 1800s as “workers” rather than slaves.
 
He reached for his cellphone and sent a photograph of the caption to his mother, Roni Dean-Burren, along with a text message: “we was real hard workers, wasn’t we.”
 
Their outrage over the textbook’s handling of the nation’s history of African-American slavery — another page referred to Europeans coming to America as “indentured servants” but did not describe Africans the same way — touched off a social-media storm that led the book’s publisher, McGraw-Hill Education, to vow to change the wording and the school’s teachers to use other materials in the class.
 
“It talked about the U.S.A. being a country of immigration, but mentioning the slave trade in terms of immigration was just off,” said Ms. Dean-Burren, who is black. “It’s that nuance of language. This is what erasure looks like.”
 
Ms. Dean-Burren cataloged her objections to the caption last week in posts on Facebook and Twitter. The posts, along with a video she made while flipping through the book, were widely shared, catching the attention of the #blacklivesmatter movement as the video alone reached nearly two million views.
 
Texas textbooks — and how they address aspects of history, science, politics and other subjects — have been a source of controversy for years in part because the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. In 2010, the Texas Board of Education approved a social-studies curriculum that put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, including emphasizing Republican political achievements and movements. State-sanctioned textbooks have been criticized for passages suggesting Moses influenced the writing of the Constitution and dismissing the history of the separation of church and state…
 

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Black DAR Members Celebrate Their Ties to the Nation’s Independence

From Afro.com

The Daughters of the American Revolution join together in Washington, D.C.

The Daughters of the American Revolution join together in Washington, D.C.

They are a group of African American women who have been able to trace their lineage to the nation’s founding patriots. They gathered for lunch five days before the nation was to celebrate its independence to discuss their role as Black members of the nation’s premiere heritage organization for women—the Daughters of the American Revolution.

There was Karen Batchelor, who is descended from a White man who fought in the Revolutionary War. There was Maria Williams-Cole, who has three Black relatives who participated in the war. There was Laura W. Murphy, who was scheduled to read from the Declaration of Independence at a special program slated for July 4th at the National Archives. They were in town to attend the annual convention of the 168,000-member DAR.

 
Murphy, great-granddaughter of AFRO founder John H. Murphy Sr. and descendant of Philip Livingston, one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, believes there are thousands of descendants who simply can’t verify their relationships.
“I know there are [others],” she said. “The difficulty is supporting documentation. A lot of us can trace our ancestry, but because Blacks were treated as property…a lot of people don’t have documentation of the birth, death, marriages, of each generation, because that documentation either wasn’t required by the state or it wasn’t required for Black people.”