Tag Archives: race

Government Boarding Schools Once Separated Native American Children From Families

21 Jun

Carlisle Indian School

In 1879, U.S. cavalry captain Richard Henry Pratt opened a boarding school in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. But it wasn’t the kind of boarding school that rich parents send their children to. Rather, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School was a government-backed institution that forcibly separated Native American children from their parents in order to, as Pratt put it, “kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

Over the next several decades, Carlisle served as a model for nearly 150 such schools that opened around the country. Like the 1887 Dawes Act that reallotted Native American land, or the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ 1902 “haircut order”specifying that men with long hair couldn’t receive rations, Native American boarding schools were a method of forced assimilation. The end goal of these measures was to make Native people more like the white Anglo-Americans who had taken over their land.

So begins Becky Little’s concise historical reminder at History.com of Indian Boarding Schools. You may read her entire post here.

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The Redemption of Ulysses S. Grant

20 Jun

Every now and then a past American president undergoes a radical change in historical reputation. The starkest case was probably that of Harry Truman who was single-handedly rehabilitated twenty-five years ago by David McCullough’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning biography. By contrast, Thomas Jefferson has had rough innings recently at the hands of liberal historians who once lauded him but now focus on his long, profitable—and mealy-mouthed—entanglement with slavery.

The latest candidate for redemption is Ulysses S. Grant. The process has been underway for a couple decades already but surely has hit full stride now, courtesy of America’s favorite biographer, Ron Chernow. Also a Pulitzer winner for his work on George Washington and a prime source for the endlessly popular stage musical, Hamilton …

So begins historian James Bratt’s review of Chernow’s biography of U.S. Grant. You may read the rest of the review at the Twelve here.

One Hundred Years Ago, the Harlem Hellfighters Bravely Led the U.S. Into WWI

14 May

Members of the 369th [African American] Infantry

Private Henry Johnson of Albany, New York, held tight his French Lebel rifle and stared into the darkness of no-man’s-land, listening for German raiders. Beyond the parapet, he could make out shapes and shadows under the waning moon.

Johnson was a 25-year-old railroad baggage porter, the son of North Carolina tobacco farmers. Under French command, he manned the front line of the Great War about 115 miles east of Paris on the early morning of May 15, 1918.

He heard a sound and turned to his partner in their tiny observation post, Needham Roberts, who gestured toward the direction of the noise. They heard it again: the snip of barbed wire being cut.

So begins Erick Trickey’s concise story of the 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the Harlem Hellfighters. You may read the entire centennial post at Smithsonian.com here.

NEW BOOK ON TRUMP AND EVANGELICALS GETS IT MOSTLY RIGHT

17 Apr

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election (and since) many tried to answer the question, “Why would evangelicals support him?” According to the Pew Research Center 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump, an astonishing margin given Trump’s lack of church involvement and his, um, complicated personal history. But few solid analyses have come from within the movement itself. Instead, most pundits have either treated evangelicalism as an oddity or revealed their own personal alienation from the movement.

Messiah College historian John Fea has earned the right to author a book on this topic. His research focuses on American Christianity, including his nuanced, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? that book put the lie to David Barton’s Christian nationalist mythology, and his critiques of evangelical writer Eric Metaxas, which earned a blocking on Twitter. Fea’s blog, “The Way of Improvement Leads Home,” enjoys wide appreciation. I consider John a friendly and admired acquaintance.

So begins Greg Carey’s friendly-yet-critical review of my friend John Fea’s new book Believe Me. You may read the entire review (at Religion Dispatches) here.

How MLK’s death affected a nation, as told by those who remember it

4 Apr

How MLK's death affected a nation, as told by those who remember it

Martin Luther King Jr. had traveled to Memphis, Tenn., in late March 1968 to lead a protest march in support of the city’s striking sanitation workers. Violence had followed, with police descending on the protesters with billy clubs, mace and tear gas.

The next week, King returned to get court permission for another march. Despite the death threats he had received, and the growing concern for his safety, King pressed to hold a nonviolent demonstration.

On the night of April 3, he delivered what became known as the “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, in which he said:

“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I have looked over, and I have seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”

The events of the next day, April 4, 1968, would be seared into the memories of Americans for decades.

Folks at the Los Angeles Times have put together some memories and photographs about the assassination of King and its aftermath here.

Baseball Scouting Reports of Branch Rickey Now Online

3 Apr

Baseball scouting reports of one of the most famous baseball executives and scouts in history, Branch Rickey, who was also responsible for helping Jackie Robinson successfully break Major League Baseball’s color line, have been digitized and are now available online for the first time from the Library of Congress. The archive was digitized in time for Major League Baseball’s new season and for the Library’s new exhibition “Baseball Americana” opening June 29.

So begins the Library of Congress press release. You may read the entire piece here.

Q: “Sir, would you like a history of this monument?” A: “F**k You!”

22 Mar

Members of Historians for a Better Future planned to encounter many personalities along the sidewalk when we set up in front of the Women of the Confederacy monument at the State Capitol building in Raleigh, North Carolina, on September 8, 2017. During our Free History Lesson, we stood holding banners connecting the monument to white supremacy and passing out histories. When one of our educators approached a passerby with an offer of a free historical brochure, he received a decided “F**k you.” But other educators reported finding common ground with most individuals, and some pedestrians expressed encouragement. Motorists used horns and hand gestures to express disappointment or support for our work. Such a range of responses not only indicate the charged climate for public dialogue about history, but also how, in this volatile time, education looks very much like protest.

To read the rest of the report from Historians for a Better Future at the National Council for Public History site, click here.

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

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reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life

The Pietist Schoolman

The website and blog of historian Chris Gehrz

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Your guide to practically true history.

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by Alex Scarfe

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

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