Legacies Links for November 21, 2022: Thanksgiving, Indigenous Slavery, and Holiday Meals.

In honor of Thanksgiving, here’s a holiday-themed set of curated links. We encourage you to share this post, though a link here does not imply full agreement or endorsement by the Council of Independent Colleges.

Wounded African American soldiers, sailors, marines and Coast Guardsmen sitting at tables and enjoying their Thanksgiving dinner at Lucy D. Slowe Hall, Washington, D.C. (1944). Courtesy of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs, and Print Division.

Let’s set the table: Thanksgiving, a distinctively Northern holiday, became a national holiday despite the resistance of many white Southerners before and after the Civil War—

  • Jenny Jarvie, “In America, there was a time when even ‘Thanksgiving’ was a fightin’ word,” Los Angeles Times (November 23, 2017): LINK.
  • Robert Moss, “How Thanksgiving, the ‘Yankee Abolitionist Holiday,’ Won Over the South,” Serious Eats (August 10, 2018): LINK.

Giving thanks:

  • R. Khari Brown and Ronald Brown, “What Americans hear about social justice at church–and what they do about it,” The Conversation (November 18, 2021): LINK. A summary of research drawn from “44 national and regional surveys conducted between 1941 and 2019 to examine racial differences in who hears messages about social justice at church.” 
  • Nadra Kareem Nittle, “Should We Celebrate Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims?,” ThoughtCo (July 31, 2021): LINK. A reminder that the legacy of slavery is entangled with other complicated American histories. 
  • “A Thanksgiving Poem” by Paul Laurence Dunbar: LINK

The holiday meal: African American foodways are American foodways: 

  • “S-W-E-E-T POTATO PIE: An African American Tradition,” The HistoryMakers Newsletter (November 19, 2021): LINK. This quotes and links to a number of interviews with notable African Americans contained in the HistoryMakers archive. 
  • Michael Twitty, “The roots of black Thanksgiving: Why mac and cheese and potato salad are so popular,” Washington Post (November 17, 2016): LINK
  • John-John Williams IV, “The Black Thanksgiving ‘trinity’: These are soul foods Maryland chefs say make the holiday history,” Baltimore Sun (November 19, 2021): LINK. The “trinity” is collard greens, cornbread dressing, and sweet potato pie, but the linked recipes also include such local delicacies as “Brown Sugar Sauerkraut.” 

Native American perspectives:

  • Angela Pulley Hudson, “Unsettling Histories of the South,” Southern Cultures (vol. 25, no. 3: Fall 2019): LINK. This challenges academicians to include the history of colonization and dispossession when they historicize the South.
  • Kevin Waite, “The Unfinished History of Indigenous Slavery in America: What Slavery Looked Like in the West,” The Atlantic (November 25, 2021): LINK. Legacies of slavery go beyond the typical conversation of enslaved African Americans and the white slaveholding class. American slavery was a transcontinental regime instead of a regional, peculiar institution limited to the South.
  • Daniel Figueroa IV, “National Day of Mourning: Connecticut Indigenous groups are pushing back against Thanksgiving myths,” CT Insider (November 18, 2022): LINK. This complicates our understanding of the history of Thanksgiving and presents us with the perspective of the first indigenous peoples who came into contact with English colonists and what their descendants now call a “Day of Mourning.”
  • Jerry Salley, “Reconsidering Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage,” Furman News (November 17, 2022): LINK. This article from CIC member Furman University is a necessary addition to understanding the popular treatment of Thanksgiving and its true origins, beginning with an untraceable treaty and William Penn.