Legacies links for October 2, 2023: life and death, art and memory, contested citizenship

As always, the editorial team here at the Legacies blog encourages you to share the post with friends, students, colleagues, etc. A link does not imply agreement or endorsement by the Council of Independent Colleges.

Four stained glass windows with images of African American protesters
The “Now and Forever Windows” at the National Cathedral, designed by Kerry James Marshall, replace windows that honored Confederate military leaders. source: National Cathedral


  • The Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation at Sewanee: The University of the South is marking the public launch of the Locating Slavery’s Legacies database with “Monumental Progress,” a Zoom webinar at 6:30 p.m. CT / 7:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday, October 4, 2023. The program will highlight the features and capacities of this new public history and digital humanities resource. Please register in advance. Sewanee is a Regional Collaboration Partner in the Legacies network.

Life and Death:

  • Anissa Durham, “Medical Debt: The Price of Life,” Word in Black (September 28, 2023): LINK. 100 million Americans have medical debt, but African Americans are 50 percent more likely to owe money for their care.
  • Nora Mathison and Katie Hafner, “Reconstruction Helped Her Become a Physician. Jim Crow Drove Her to Flee the U.S.,” Scientific American (September 28, 2023): LINK. The story of Sarah Loguen Fraser, a daughter of abolitionists and one of the first female African American doctors after the Civil War. Available as a podcast or transcript.
  • Elizabeth Williamson, “America’s Black Cemeteries and Three Women Trying to Save Them,” New York Times (September 27, 2023): LINK. “In Georgia, Texas and Washington, D.C., three Black women are working to preserve desecrated African American burial grounds and the stories they hold.”
  • Rupinder K. Legha, et al., “Teaching the Legacy of Slavery in American Medicine and Psychiatry to Medical Students: Feasibility, Acceptability, Opportunities for Growth,” MedEdPORTAL (September 26, 2023): https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.11349. “Understanding the legacy of slavery in the United States is crucial for engaging in anti-racism that challenges racial health inequities’ root causes. However, few medical educational curricula exist to guide this process. We created a workshop illustrating key historical themes pertaining to this legacy and grounded in critical race theory.”
  • Maria Smilios, “The hidden story of Black nurses in the fight against TB and the search for a cure,” Infectious Diseases Society of America (September 15, 2023): LINK. A scholar goes on a journey to discover the “Black Angels”—African American nurses at a New York City hospital who endured racism and sexism to assist patients suffering from TB. Based on the author’s new book, The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis (Putnam, 2023).

Art and Memory:

  • Eric Gable and Richard Handler, “Why separating fact from fiction is critical in teaching U.S. slavery,” The Conversation (September 26, 2023): LINK. Two anthropologists weigh in on attempts to distort the teaching of American history in Florida and elsewhere: “[S]ome Americans [want to] transform the racist history of this country into an uplifting—and sanitized—moral lesson … [so] the story about the horrors of the slave system is transformed into a story about opportunity, success and the American dream.”
  • Brian Yothers, “The Power of Anti-Slavery Poetry,” Proofed: A Blog from Boydell & Brewer (September 24, 2023): LINK. Reflections on the legacy of anti-slavery poetry, a literary canon that includes white 19th-century abolitionists like James Russell Lowell, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Lydia Huntley Sigourney, and African American writers like William Wells Brown, Frances E. W. Harper, and George Moses Horton. The “moral commitment” of antislavery poets means their voices remain contemporary.
  • Adelle M. Banks, “National Cathedral windows shift from themes of Confederacy to racial justice,” Religion News (September 23, 2023): LINK. On September 23, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., unveiled four new stained glass panels designed by prominent artist Kerry James Marshall. The new windows depict protests for racial justice by African Americans; they replace windows that honored Confederate generals.
  • Kriston Capps, “An Architect Uses AI to Explore Surreal Black Worlds,” Bloomberg (September 23, 2023): LINK. Using art and memory to contemplate the future, an architect remixes “Black vernacular architecture in kaleidoscopic Afrofuturist landscapes” to re-imagine what buildings and communities might look like in cities across America.
  • Brian Murphy and Katie Owens-Murphy, “Public History in the Age of Insurrection: Confronting White Rage in Red States,” The Public Historian 44:3 (2022), pp. 139–163: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2022.44.3.139. A prize-winning essay from the leading public history journal has emerged from behind a paywall. The authors argue that “Public historians have struggled to take a hard line against neo-Confederate groups in theory as well as practice. This article proposes a methodological shift that can clarify the work and obligations of the public historian following the insurrection on January 6, 2021.”

Contested Citizenship:

  • Henry L. Chambers Jr., “U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear Alabama’s request to keep separate and unequal political districts,” The Conversation (September 29, 2023): LINK. The Supreme Court has rejected (again) a plan to diminish the power of Black voters in Alabama. According to the author—who teaches at the University of Richmond, a CIC member institution—Chief Justice Roberts has been very clear about the continuity between “racially motivated voter suppression in the century after the Civil War,” the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and recent efforts to suppress Black voting.
  • Jocelyn Kiley, “Majority of Americans continue to favor moving away from Electoral College,” Pew Research Center (September 25, 2023): LINK. “Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults (65%) say the way the president is elected should be changed so that the winner of the popular vote nationwide wins the presidency.” The report does not mention the racist history of the Electoral College.
  • Jonathan Eig, “How Bayard Rustin Inspired Martin Luther King Jr.’s Nonviolent Activism,” Literary Hub (September 25, 2023): LINK. The author revisits the central role that Rustin played in persuading King to fully embrace Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolent activism after King’s house was bombed in 1956. An excerpt from Michael G. Long, ed., Bayard Rustin: A Legacy of Protest and Politics (NYU Press, 2023).