Legacies links for May 22, 2023: Desegregation, Confederate nostalgia, and other ways of remembering and forgetting the past

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African American students walk past disapproving white boys during the struggle to integrate schools (Tennessee, 1956)
Clinton, Tennessee, 1956: Two years after the Brown decision, African American students faced violence during the effort to integrate schools. source: The Library of Congress

Weekly links:

  • Raymond Pierce, “What About School Desegregation? Considering New Strategies Around Race And Education,” Forbes (May 16, 2023): LINK. The president of the Southern Education Foundation discusses persistent racial inequities in public schooling on the 69th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. “I believe we can develop realistic strategies to combat these inequities, even within the context of huge demographic and other societal changes in America that have blurred a cohesive vision for desegregation since the decision in Brown.”
  • Daja E. Henry, “Louisiana sisters fight to protect their community’s health and enslaved ancestors’ history,” The 19th (May 19, 2023): LINK. In Cancer Alley (the industrial stretch of land between Baton Rouge and New Orleans), twin sisters Jo and Joy Banner founded the Descendants Project “to amplify the narratives of enslaved people and their descendants and combat the whitewashed antebellum stories perpetuated by plantation tourism.”
  • “Symbols of the Confederacy are slowly coming down from US military bases: 3 essential reads,” The Conversation (May 17, 2023): LINK. A roundup of recent stories exploring the legacy of Confederate nostalgia on U.S. military bases.
  • “Found stained-glass window raises questions about New England’s history and slavery,” Associated Press via NBC News (May 16, 2023): LINK. “A nearly 150-year-old stained-glass window [at a closed Episcopal Curch in Warren, R.I.] that depicts a dark-skinned Jesus interacting with women in New Testament scenes has stirred up questions about race, Rhode Island’s role in the slave trade and the place of women in 19th century New England society.”
  • Jonathan Odell, “White Americans need to study Black history to better understand their own stories,” Chicago Sun Times (May 5, 2023): LINK. The author reflects on his personal journey from from a white boy growing up in Mississippi in the 1960s–’70s (“a racist culture with deeply ingrained white supremacist beliefs”) into “someone whom [Florida governor Ron] DeSantis would likely consider a left-wing ideologue committed to rewriting American history.” A key step on his journey: “a summer job selling [the] Ebony Pictorial History of Black America door-to-door in Black neighborhoods.”
  • Rodney Coates, “US has a long history of state lawmakers silencing elected Black officials and taking power from their constituents,” The Conversation (May 16, 2023): LINK. A sociologist who studies race and ethnicity offers historical context for the effort by Mississippi’s Republican-led legislature to replace the elected judges in Jackson with a new, appointed court system.

Some updates from CIC member institutions:

  • Cheryl Durgans, “Wheeling Gaunt receives honorary degree from Wilberforce University,” YS News (May 16, 2023): LINK. A formerly enslaved Black man from Kentucky, Gaunt was born around 1812 and moved to Yellow Springs, Ohio, in the mid-1800s. There he eventually purchased his freedom, became one of the wealthiest Black men in Ohio, and also became a noted philanthropist. Among his gifts: a large bequest of property to CIC member and HBCU Wilberforce University. In his honor, the institution awarded Gaunt an honorary degree at this year’s commencement ceremony.
  • Danna Lorch, “Who was Robin Mingo?” Soundings Magazine (May 16, 2023): LINK. Elizabeth Matelski, associate professor of history at CIC member Endicott College (Beverly, Mass.), is unearthing the mysterious legacy of a Robin Mingo, a formerly enslaved African American who once owned the college’s scenic Mingo Beach.
  • Alexander Carpenter, “Solid History and Porous Memories: A Lecture Ignites a Debate on Ethics,” Spectrum Magazine (May 12, 2023): LINK. A recent lecture at CIC member Southern Adventist University (Collegedale, Tenn.) ignited a debate over tearing down Confederate monuments and re-thinking the legacy of Thomas Jefferson and other controversial white leaders.