Legacies links for February 20, 2023: Frederick Douglass, Reconstruction, the Black Campus Movement—all still relevant!

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A mural of Frederick Douglass in Belfast, Ireland
A Frederick Douglass mural in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Irish on both sides of the border still remember that he visited their land during the Great Famine. source: amanderson2 via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr., “Who’s Afraid of Black History?,” New York Times (February 17, 2023): LINK (may require a free NYT account to read). “Lurking behind the concerns of Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, over the content of a proposed high school course in African American studies, is a long and complex series of debates about the role of slavery and race in American classrooms.”
  • Erin Blakemore, “The origin of African American studies, explained,” National Geographic (February 13, 2023): LINK (must share an email address to read the full story). An introduction to the Black Campus Movement of the 1960s that inspired the creation of African American studies departments on many college campuses. The author also cites research that students who enroll in ethnic studies classes “are more academically engaged, develop a greater sense of self-efficacy and personal empowerment, perform better academically and graduate at higher rates.”
  • Ron Cassie, “On His Birthday: Remembering Frederick Douglass’ Exile in Ireland,” Baltimore Magazine (February 14, 2023): LINK. Frederick Douglass’s understanding of freedom in the United States was influenced by contemporary freedom movements across the Atlantic world, in Ireland (which he visited in 1845), France, Latin America, and elsewhere.
  • Gabrielle Hays, “How St. Louis is approaching the question of reparations for Black citizens,” PBS NewsHour (February 13, 2023): LINK. St. Louis joins the work being done in other cities and states to investigate the legacies of slavery and propose reparations. St. Louis, home of the Dred Scott Courthouse, has “a long history of racist practices from hosting the trade of enslaved peoples along the riverfront to the bulldozing of entire Black communities in the 1950s.”
  • Miguel Schor and Erin Lain, “A diverse Supreme Court grapples with affirmative action, with its justices of color split sharply on the meaning of ‘equal protection,’” The Conversation (February 15, 2023): LINK. The outcome of two affirmative action cases now before the Court will hinge on divergent interpretations of the 14th Amendment and the contested legacy of Reconstruction.
  • “Oldest schoolhouse for Black children in U.S. moving to museum,” CBS 19 News (Charlottesville, VA) (February 10, 2023): LINK. The historic Bray School building, where enslaved and freed Black students were educated c. 1760–1774, is being moved from the campus of William & Mary to Colonial Williamsburg for restoration and interpretation.
  • “[Historian] Co-Authors Groundbreaking Book, ‘Five Hundred African Voices,’” Columbia College Chicago (February 13, 2023): LINK. A new book co-authored by Robert Hanserd (Columbia College Chicago) and Aaron Fogleman (Northern Illinois University) compiles “accounts by African slave ship survivors who told someone about their lives in their homelands or in the places they were taken after enslavement.” The self-explanatory title is Five Hundred African Voices: A Catalog of Published Accounts by Africans Enslaved in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, 1586-1936 (and most of the accounts are free to download). Columbia College Chicago is an Institutional Affiliate of the Legacies of American Slavery network.
  • Christopher J. Kellerman, “Slavery and the Catholic Church: It’s time to correct the historical record,” America: The Jesuit Review (February 15, 2023): LINK. A Jesuit scholar discusses the Church’s ambivalent record on slavery (e.g., in 1839 Pope Gregory XVI condemned the slave trade but not slavery itself). He also calls for a “reconciliation process … to repair the harm caused by the injustices our church perpetuated.”