Legacies links for October 31, 2022: Halloween, Partner updates, and other links

A mixed bag of links this week. As always, we encourage you to share this post. A link here does not imply agreement or endorsement by the Council of Independent Colleges.

This eerie image was generated by the Midjourney AI platform using the prompt “All the Legacies of American Slavery.”
credit: Philip M. Katz (CC BY-NC 4.0)

First, a few Halloween-appropriate links:

  • Jennifer Wilson, “The Haunted Past: What ghost stories of the formerly enslaved tell us about their lives,” New York Times Book Review (October 28, 2022): LINK. A reflection on the ghost stories and other supernatural tales gathered from the last survivors of slavery by the Federal Writer’s Project during the New Deal.
  • In 2018, John Muller worried about the racial politics of Halloween at the neighborhood level (especially his neighborhood in Milwaukee): “On a holiday that lends outsize importance to fears of violence and the unfamiliar, people have occasion to think about whom they consider members of their communities and whom they do not. The answers can be ugly, tinged with assumptions about race and class.” Muller, “Halloween Is More Political Than You Think,” Politico (October 31, 2018): LINK.
  • Elexus Jionde, “A Black People’s History of Halloween and Haunts” (2021): YouTube link. A wide-ranging, entertaining, insightful discussion about the many ways that Black Americans have celebrated and enjoyed Halloween. (Note that Elexus Jionde’s videos tackle “history, sex, sociology, and pop culture” from a unique perspective that some may consider NSFW.)  
  • In Tales from the Haunted South: Dark Tourism and Memories of Slavery from the Civil War Era (UNC Press, 2015), Tiya Miles “explores the popular yet troubling phenomenon of ‘ghost tours,’ frequently promoted and experienced at plantations, urban manor homes, and cemeteries throughout the South. As a staple of the tours, guides entertain paying customers by routinely relying on stories of enslaved black specters. … Miles shows that haunted tales routinely appropriate and skew African American history to produce representations of slavery for commercial gain.”

Updates from our Regional Collaboration Partners:

  • “Centenary hosts conference addressing legacies of slavery in health and medicine,” Centenary College of Louisiana (October 27, 2022): LINK. A preview of the upcoming conference (November 11–12) cohosted by Centenary and Huston-Tillotson University.
  • Kay Bolden, “Race, Place and Mass Incarceration,” The [Joliet, IL] Times Weekly (October 26, 2022): LINK. Coverage of the conference hosted by Lewis University on October 21–22, including the keynote address by Reuben Jonathan Miller (whose powerful work on mass incarceration was recently recognized with a MacArthur “Genius grant”).
  • On October 5th, the Black Student Union at Meredith College invited the institution’s Universities Studying Slavery Research Team to share its latest findings about slavery, race, and the early history of the campus. You can watch the presentation HERE.

Bonus links:

  • Mark Wingfield, “Only one-fourth of Republican parents say children should be taught the legacy of slavery still affects Black people today—and other findings from a new Pew survey,” Baptist News Global (October 27, 2022): LINK.
  • Meanwhile, the Georgia Baptist Convention (GBC) is celebrating a bicentennial this year, which some leaders have seized as an opportunity to reflect on the denomination’s “heritage of racism and slavery.” For example, the Rev. Troy Bush (a pastor in Tucker, GA) has published a three-part series in The Christian Index devoted to slaveholding and convict leasing by prominent Georgia Baptists in the 19th century—including the founders of CIC member Shorter University. Bush also discusses the contributions of Black Baptist churches in Georgia and efforts by the GBC since the 1960s to reckon with the past and atone.    
  • Arun Venugopal, “New report shines spotlight on enduring stain of slavery in NY,” Gothamist (October 25, 2022): LINK. “A new report details how the transatlantic slave trade fundamentally shaped life and wealth in New York, New Jersey, and other northern areas, and to an extent historians say isn’t commonly known.” The report was prepared by the Equal justice Initiative.  
  • Taylor Young, “Reparations: Discussion is not easy in NJ,” NJ Spotlight News (October 27, 2022): LINK.  “Lawmakers and social justice advocates since 2019 have urged the state to create a reparations task force to consider the socioeconomic impact of slavery.” As the author notes, arguments for reparations often get less traction in the North because of the perceived historical distance from slavery. (New Jersey did not fully abolish slavery until 1866, though the number of enslaved persons in the state had declined from about 12,000 in 1800 to just 18 in 1860.)