Legacies links for October 23, 2023: our contemporary, Frederick Douglass—and other topics

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Photograph of Frederick Douglass as a young man
Frederick Douglass circa 1845. source: Smithsonian Magazine (original at the Onondaga Historical Association in Syracuse, NY)
  • Deborah Barfield Berry, “Conservative leaders banned books. Now Black museums are bracing for big crowds.” USA Today (October 13, 2023): LINK. Black museums across the country are fighting back against restrictive laws by offering history lessons for their local communities: “People come to our museums because our museums are sanctuaries.”
  • Mike Jordan, “Long live the Atlanta University Center,” Atlanta Magazine (October 18, 2023): LINK. “HBCUs, and specifically the AUC, are immensely vital to ‘Black Excellence.’ The consortium [which includes CIC member institutions Spelman College, Morehouse College, and Clark Atlanta University] has played a major role in the history of [Atlanta since Reconstruction], and their notable alumni prove their impact.”
  • Emily Lordi, “The Visual Power of Black Rest,” The New Yorker (October 18, 2023): LINK. “Black people are generally pictured as doing anything but relaxing—as being attacked, or agitating, or performing feats of athleticism or entertainment. In a new exhibition [at NYU’s Center For Black Visual Culture], Black people—through their photos—testify that everyday Black people can exist from one moment of leisure to the next.”
  • Richard Hornbeck and Trevon Logan, “One Giant Leap: Emancipation and Aggregate Economic Gains,” Becker Friedman Institute (October 19, 2023): LINK. A new study by University of Chicago economists argues, against some conventional wisdom, that “US slavery was economically inefficient. Why? Because the value extracted by enslavers—from enslaved people—was substantially less than the costs imposed on enslaved people. Slavery was not only theft, but inefficient theft; not only a moral failure, but a market failure.”
  • Hiram Jackson, “Why Mass Incarceration Still Has Mass Appeal,” Word In Black (October 19, 2023): LINK. “America’s love affair with incarceration unnecessarily deprives people [disproportionately, Black people] of their freedom. It also comes with enormous social and economic costs for formerly incarcerated individuals, their families, and their communities.”
  • Janelle Harris Dixon, “Why We Need to Understand Frederick Douglass Now More Than Ever,” Smithsonian Magazine (October 20, 2023): LINK. A new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery—“One Life: Frederick Douglass” (on view through April 21, 2024)—“explores the curiosity and ideals that drove [his] constant evolution as a thinker, writer, and orator.”
  • Daniel Johnson, “Study Reveals Children, Black Women, and Latinos Disproportionately Affected by Evictions in the U.S.,” Black Enterprise (October 21, 2023): LINK. According to a new study from the U.S. Census Bureau and The Eviction Lab, “Black renters face a disproportionate share of evictions. Less than one in every five renters in America is Black (18.8%), but over half of all eviction filings are against Black renters (51.1%).” In many cases, the data in the report reflect decades-old migration patterns.
  • Ayesha Rascoe, “Two-time National Book Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward on her novel ‘Let Us Descend,’” NPR (October 22, 2023): LINK. An interview with Ward, whose latest novel, Let Us Descend (Simon & Schuster, 2023), is a “reimagining of American slavery” with a little help from Dante. It is told through the lens of a young enslaved woman who is separated from kin, sold and resold, and transported to the hell of New Orleans slave markets and Deep South plantations.
  • Anissa Durham, “Why Is the News About Black People So Negative?” Word In Black (October 22, 2023): LINK. In several reports from Pew Research Center, the author makes the case that racist stereotypes still negatively impact Black mental health, Black journalists in newsrooms, and coverage of issues surrounding Black communities.