Legacies links for July 24, 2023: voting rights, Black studies, Black history, brownfields, and shade trees

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A view of the Mars Hill University campus.
Mars Hill University in Mars Hill, North Carolina, is an institutional member of the Council of Independent Colleges. source: Mars Hill University

Weekly links:

  • Clint Parker, “University Roots Go Deep in Southern History,” Tribune Papers (July 20, 2023): LINK. An overview of the history of CIC member Mars Hill University (Mars Hill, NC). The journalist notes here that an enslaved man named Joe was imprisoned as collateral during the construction of the campus in the 1850s. This history is documented in greater detail in the Southern Appalachian Archives.    
  • Rebekah Barber, “How Fannie Lou Hamer’s disability informed her fight for voting rights,” The 19th (July 19, 2023): LINK. Hamer’s famous testimony at the 1964 Democratic National Convention and her own disability take center stage in a conversation about the intersections between the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement, and the disability rights movement—a reminder that most fights for equal access to the ballot are intersectional.
  • Dave Zirin, “Colin Kaepernick’s Defense of Black Studies,” The Nation (July 19, 2023): LINK. In this interview, the former NFL quarterback discusses the new book he co-edited with Robin D.G. Kelley and Keeanga-Yamahatta Taylor, Our History Has Always Been Contraband: In Defense of Black Studies (Haymarket Books, 2023): “In a society that values whiteness, patriarchy, and capitalism above all, Black radical history is contraband. So, the title serves both as a political analysis and a description of the condition of Black life.”
  • Jackie Llanos, “‘Do not, for the love of God, tell kids that slavery was beneficial,’” Florida Phoenix (July 19, 2023): LINK. “Students at Florida public schools will now learn that Black people benefitted from slavery because it taught them skills. This change is part of the African American history standards the State Board of Education approved at a Wednesday meeting.” (The quote in the title of this article comes from a community member who protested the change.)
  • Geoff Dembicki, “A highway destroyed Tulsa’s thriving Black Wall Street—now there’s hope it could come back,” The Guardian (July 18, 2023): LINK. After the Tulsa Massacre devastated Greenwood (Black Wall Street) in 1921, the completion of I-244 further shrunk the once thriving community; however, with help from federal funding and grants, Tulsa could become a national model by removing the section of the interstate that sliced through its Black community.
  • Elaine Velie, “The Overlooked Student Protest That Changed College Admissions,” Hyperallergic (July 18, 2023): LINK. A new documentary tells the story of City College in NYC in the late 1960s, when around 200 Black and Puerto Rican students took over campus buildings and protested in support of five demands that included more diverse history instruction, the development of Black and Puerto Rican studies programs, new orientation programs for first-year students, low-income admissions, and Spanish-language instruction for future school teachers.
  • Shiloh Krupa, “Turning Brownfields Into Hospitals Can Improve Public Health. It Can Also Entrench Disparities,” Next City (July 17, 2023): LINK. In an excerpt from her book Health Colonialism, Krupa examines how brownfields have been seen as a “green investment to conserve unused land”; however, these healthfields “may only superficially address the land’s hazards, ultimately showing “how blight designation can be used to gentrify inner-city areas.”
  • Ben Jealous, “To Feel Less Heat, We Need More Trees,” The Washington Informer (July 17, 2023): LINK. The former director of the NAACP and current director of the Sierra Club discusses race and shade (trees): “The places where people of color and low-income whites live get far less relief from trees. Communities in which nearly all residents experience poverty have 41% less canopy than those with nearly no poverty. The group American Forests calls this the ‘tree equity’ gap. One of the easiest ways to find the neighborhoods with too few trees and too much heat is to look at a map of where racial redlining prevented residents from benefiting from federal home loans for much of the 20th century.”
  • Lukas Althoff, “The Long Shadows of Slavery and Jim Crow: Uncovering the Economic Impact on Black Americans,” Hoover Institution (July 17, 2023): LINK. Drawing upon “millions of records spanning 150 years for individual Black families,” two economists demonstrate that “Black families enslaved until the Civil War have significantly lower income, education, and wealth today than those whose ancestors were free before the war. These ‘Free-Enslaved gaps’ account for 20 to 70 percent of the corresponding Black-White [economic] gaps [today].”
  • Taylor Orth and Carl Bialik, “What do Americans think about the Civil War?,” YouGov (July 17, 2023): LINK. Among the findings of a recent poll of American adults: “Regarding the legacy of slavery and the Civil War, few Americans believe that the Reconstruction period was successful, and many [56%] believe slavery remains influential in American society today.” The regional, racial, and partisan divides on nearly every topic related to the Civil War are stark.
  • Alexa Spencer, “Endgame Agony: Black Ex-NFL Players Suffering More,” Word in Black (July 13, 2023): LINK. According to a recent study, Black former NFL players suffer more chronic pain than their white counterparts. This is a “microcosm of the racial and ethnic disparities in pain” and a reminder that “elite athletic status is not sufficient to eliminate these [racial] differences.”