Legacies links for September 7, 2023: Black breastfeeding, Black colleges, Black medicine

We’re back after the holiday weekend! As always, the editorial team at the Legacies blog encourages you to share this post with friends, students, colleagues, etc. A link does not imply agreement or endorsement by the Council of Independent Colleges.

A. D. Jaynes, “Full-length portrait of an African American woman seated holding an African American infant” (c. 1860s). source: The Library of Congress

Update from the Council of Independent Colleges:

  • “CIC Helps Member Institutions Reckon with the Legacies of Slavery,” Independent (Summer 2023): LINK. A report from the CIC newsletter on two summer programs offered as part of the Legacies of American Slavery initiative: a seminar for faculty members and a public history institute for teams that included college and community representatives.

The rest of this week’s links:

  • Leia Belt and Jill Inderstrodt, “It’s possible to change low rates of Black breastfeeding, but it starts with acknowledging the legacy of slavery,” The Boston Globe (August 30, 2023): LINK. Racial disparities are everywhere in neonatal health: for example, just 74% of Black babies are breastfed at some point vs. 86% of white babies. The authors argue that Black breastfeeding narratives—with deep roots in the legacy of slavery—have to change before breastfeeding rates can be improved.
  • Saida Grundy, “Since their foundings, HBCUs have been a white supremacist target,” The Guardian (September 2, 2023): LINK. A reflection on the recent shooting in Jacksonville, Florida, where a racist shooter tried (but failed) to target CIC member Edward Waters University before killing three people at a Dollar General. The author notes that HBCUs have long been a symbol of Black excellence and progress—and thus a target for white supremacists who seek to disrupt and undermine progress.
  • Michael Brice-Saddler, “Georgetown sold their ancestors. They just had a historic family reunion,” The Washington Post (September 3, 2023): LINK. The Southern Maryland Descendant Gatherings Committee received $400,000 from Georgetown University this year for genealogical and community-building projects, including a group visit over Labor Day weekend to some of the Maryland plantations where their ancestors toiled.
  • Elise A. Mitchell, “How Far Back Were Africans Inoculating Against Smallpox? Really Far Back.” Slate (September 4, 2023): LINK. A historian details the practices that enslaved Africans used to combat smallpox in the Americas. Although an Englishman created the first modern vaccine for the disease in the 1790s, inoculation was a crucial part of non-Western medical practices long before then.
  • Steve Lohr, “Occupational Segregation Drives Persistent Inequality, Study Says,” New York Times (September 4, 2023): LINK. “[T]he dearth of Black students in majors that lead to higher pay in careers like technology or finance, the researchers say, is a legacy of racism.”
  • Lamaur Stancil, “Ancestral sins of slavery set aside for collaboration for Brattonsville descendants,” The Post and Courier (September 3, 2023): LINK. Historic Brattonsville in York County, S.C., hosts an annual “By the Sweat of our Brows” event, “reflecting on the property’s historic engagement into slavery while connecting descendants from both sides of it.” Faculty and students from CIC member Winthrop University have engaged in interpretive work at the historic site.
  • Lucy Duncan, “Reparations is a commitment to spiritual transformation,” Philadelphia Inquirer (August 31, 2023): LINK. Earlier this year, Philadelphia’s city council unanimously passed a resolution to create a reparations task force. For almost two years, a “Rise up for Reparations” campaign in the City of Brotherly Love has engaged 100 majority-white congregations in “deep reparations,” blending faith with spiritual community uplift.
  • Katy Roberts, “What my 1960s U.S. history class taught me about slavery—and life,” Washington Post (August 27, 2023): LINK. A Southern white woman considers the surprisingly progressive history she learned in the 1960s. “If [today’s] parents want to protect young minds 24 hours a day, shielding them from ‘divisive concepts’ or from ‘feeling guilty’ about dark chapters in the nation’s past, they are showing a lack of trust in their children’s ability to figure out how to live in a complicated world.”