Tag Archives: African Americans

THE RADICAL COMPASSION OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS

14 Feb

Frederick Douglass portrait

This year’s Black History Month coincides with the 200th birthday of Douglass, and it’s an ideal occasion to rectify some unfortunate ways in which this influential writer has continued to be misrepresented and misunderstood—and not simply by the likes of Trump. Specifically, consider this famous quote that has been attributed to Douglass for decades: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

William Cheng offers a fine piece of historiography here about Douglass and a quote attributed to him. You may read his entire piece at the Pacific Standard here.

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A disturbing new report on how poorly schools teach American slavery

5 Feb

Consider this from a disturbing new report on how U.S. schools teach — or, rather, don’t teach — students about the history of slavery in the United States:

  • Only 8 percent of U.S. high school seniors could identify slavery as the central cause of the Civil War.
  • 68 percent of the surveyed students did not know that slavery formally ended only with an amendment to the Constitution.
  • Only 22 percent of the students could correctly identify how provisions in the Constitution gave advantages to slaveholders.
  • Only 44 percent of the students answered that slavery was legal in all colonies during the American Revolution.

These results are part of an unsettling new report titled “Teaching Hard History: American Slavery,” which was researched over the course of a year by the Teaching Tolerance project of the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center. The report includes results of surveys of U.S. high school seniors as well as social studies teachers in all grades — nationally representative of those populations — as well as an analysis of 15 state content standards, and a review of 10 popular U.S. history textbooks. The best textbook achieved a score of 70 percent against a rubric of what should be included in the study of American slavery; the average score was 46 percent.

So begins a Washington Post report by Valerie Strauss on how well the history of slavery is taught in U.S. high schools. You may read the rest of Strauss’ report here.

 

I used to lead tours at a plantation. You won’t believe the questions I got about slavery.

28 Aug

“Did the slaves here appreciate the care they got from their mistress?” one woman asked, pinchedly.

Read the rest of Margaret Biser’s account of leading tours that taught about slavery on a southern plantation: I used to lead tours at a plantation. You won’t believe the questions I got about slavery. – Vox

The Namesake of Howard University had Complicated Relationships with African Americans and Native Americans

24 May

Oliver Otis Howard was a revered Civil War general—but his career had a complicated postscript. Historian Daniel Sharfstein provides a concise summary of some of Howard’s zealous attempts to serve God through warfare, negotiation, education, and evangelism: The Namesake of Howard University Spent Years Kicking Native Americans Off of Their Land | History | Smithsonian

The Librarian of Congress and the Greatness of Humility

20 Feb

Dr. Carla Hayden, the first woman and the first person of color to hold the post of Librarian of Congress, is a quiet but fierce defender of creative freedom. Read Sarah Larson’s fine story on her here at the New Yorker: The Librarian of Congress and the Greatness of Humility – The New Yorker

How Shelton Johnson became the Buffalo Soldiers’ champion

29 Jul

Shelton Johnson is the Michael Jordan among people of color engaged in the outdoors. He is the community’s most accomplished champion of nature and its biggest crossover conservation celebrity. He is the most recognizable – on many levels cherished – ambassador to national parks.

Read the rest of Glenn Nelson’s story about Shelton Johnson, star of Ken Burns’ The National Parks documentary series, here at High Country News: How Shelton Johnson became the Buffalo Soldiers’ champion — High Country News

Enough Light

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"History is the record of our loves in all their magnificent and ignoble forms." Eugene McCarraher

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The website and blog of historian Chris Gehrz

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Thoughtful Conversation about the American West

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"History is the record of our loves in all their magnificent and ignoble forms." Eugene McCarraher

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Thinking Christianly about the American Past

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