Archive for the ‘Esclavitud’ Category

El Gilder Lehrman Institute anuncia los seminarios para maestros de escuela que estará ofreciendo en los meses de junio y julio. Entre ellos podemos mencionar los siguientes: colonización y exploración (Dr. John Fea), la revolución americana (Dra. Carol Berkin), la ilustración nortemericana (Dr. Caroline Winterer), la era revolucionaria (Dr. Denver Brunsman) y los negros durante la república temprana (Dr. James G. Basker).

Quienes estén interesados en estos seminarios deben ir aquí.


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El Gilder Lehrman Institute invita a la entrega virtual  del Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize a los ganadores de los años 2020 y 2021: Elizabeth Varon y David S. Reynolds, respectivamente. Este prestigioso premio reconoce la calidad de las mejores publicaciones dedicadas al análisis de la guerra civil estadounidense. La ceremonia será llevada a cabo el 19 de abril a las 7PM, hora del Este de los Estados Unidos. El acceso es completamente gratuito y quienes quieran asistir deben reservar aquí.

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La Dra. Karin Wulf, directora del Omohundro Institute en el William & Mary College, pidió a un grupo de especialistas de la historia temprana de Estados Unidos que comentarán cómo  estaban experimentando el periodo de crisis pandémica y política, y cuál consideraban era la relevancia de su trabajo   y publicaciones.  El resultado es un grupo de interesantes reflexiones que comparto con mis lectores. Estas vienen acompañadas con  imágenes de las publicaciones más recientes de los investigadores consultados.

History typed on an vintage typewriter, old paper. close-upHistorians in Historic Times


The Scholarly Kitchen   January 14, 2021

A historian will tell you that every era, every group of people, every subject, and every last fragment of material about the past is historical. We are always living through history. We always benefit from rigorous historical research and scholarship.  And while history has conventionally been written from a privileged position, and about politics, wars, and economies, most of us work from more complex situations and on a more complex combination of phenomena that could any moment be reflected in the present. Historians of medicine, for example, have been working overtime explaining how socio-economic inequalities mapped onto historical pandemics and parallel what we see with COVID19. Historians of authoritarianism and white supremacy have been working overtime to show us how these movements have proliferated and been sustained over decades — even centuries. Historians of race, and particularly of slavery and Jim Crow in the United States, have been pointing to the iterative quality of politics and policy that have led to dynamics we saw play out last summer in episodes of police violence and protest. Last week’s riot and insurrection at the U.S. Capitol seems a particularly stark moment that will likely be pointed to for generations to come, either as a culmination or an origin or both.

I asked historians of the early Americas and United States who have published books in this year of pandemic and political crisis how they are feeling about living through this moment of pandemic and political crisis, and how the subject of their scholarship and/or the practice of history feels relevant and resonant. It’s a remarkable set of reflections, and I’m grateful to these scholars for taking the time and energy — when there is so little of either to spare — to contribute.

VSurviving Southampton: African American Women and Resistance in Nat  Turner's Community (Women, Gender, and Sexuality in American History):  Holden, Vanessa M.: 9780252085857: Amazon.com: Booksanessa M. Holden, University of Kentucky, author of Surviving Southampton:  African American Women and Resistance in Nat Turner’s Community (2021)

Like many Americans, I woke up on the morning of Wednesday, January 6th, to the news that Georgia would have at least one (likely two) Democrats as U.S. Senators as the result of runoff elections held on Tuesday the 5th. A coalition of activists and organizers had triumphed after years of hard-fought efforts to get out the vote, register new voters, and combat voter suppression. Black women and femmes knew Georgia could be blue and, after years of hard work, had realized their vision. In a state where most Americans unfamiliar with Black women’s history saw only solid red, they’d made a way out of possibility. That same afternoon I spoke with a colleague via Zoom. She was hopeful. I was cautious. “Violence,” I said, “I’m worried about the violent backlash. It has already started. It is going to get worse.” In the few seconds of silence that passed between us across computer screens my phone buzzed. My brother was texting to tell me that Vice President Pence was being removed from the senate chamber. On Twitter, raw footage of a Black Capitol police officer swatting at a white mob with a nightstick lit up my timeline. What had happened to him after he’d exited the camera frame?

Like many Black Americans I watched the day unfold while thinking of Black residents of Washington, D.C., the people of color who work as custodians, food service workers, and staff at the Capitol building, and the sharp contrast in law enforcement’s non-response to the invasion of the Capitol by white insurrectionists in comparison to militarized violent police responses across the country to peaceful protest by BIPOC and our allies. At the end of the day, photos of security standing near custodial staff (all apparently people of color) as they swept up broken glass began to circulate. Later we learned that insurrectionists smeared human excrement throughout the building.

How much had custodial staff been exposed to the deadly virus that day?

Like many historians I thought about my work. For me, completing and publishing a book about America’s most famous rebellion against slavery and enslavers, took on additional immediacy. The women, children, and men who I write about in Surviving Southampton: African American Women and Resistance in Nat Turner’s Community, found ways to preserve their community amidst overwhelming white violence in 1831. This year the Covid-19 pandemic brought into sharp focus systemic racial inequalities that Black historians have innovated entire historical fields to explore, document, and combat. Black death, from Covid-19 and police violence, has been ever present in our kinship networks, communities, neighborhoods, and on our newsfeeds. Survival requires labor: the day-to-day work, choices, and determination to endure. But, as I write in my book, the word survivor has more than one meaning. It is our word both for those who endure and for those who are bereaved. In Georgia, Black women and femmes did exhausting survival work to flip the Senate — work that will endure. In Kentucky, where I live, Black Lives Matter activists are raising funds to stave off the eviction crisis for vulnerable Black women and femmes even as armed militias plague the state capitol in Frankfort. When the camera moves on, what work of survival will we take up? What ways will we endure bereavement? And what of our work will endure?

Unworthy Republic : The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian  Territory (Hardcover) - Walmart.com - Walmart.comClaudio Saunt, University of Georgia, author of Unworthy Republic:  The Disposssession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory(2020)

“Unworthy Republic,” the title of my recent book on the expulsion of Native Americans from the eastern half of the United States in the 1830s, comes from a letter written by James Folsom, a Choctaw student studying at Miami University of Ohio in 1831. The United States had mistreated the Cherokee Nation, he wrote, and the American Republic would “go down to future eyes with scorn and reproach on her head.” As I was writing Unworthy Republic, the politics in the United States were changing around me, and the book’s subject — white supremacy, political cowardice, and economic opportunism — became more tightly relevant. That served as a motivating force, and I think made the work more present and urgent. In the 1830s, white supremacists threatened to take up arms to defend a grotesque vision of their rights, politicians pretended to take principled stands that were transparently self-serving, and profit-seekers disregarded everything but the dollars they coveted.  Folsom asserted that the United States would feel the legacy of injustice “in her legislative halls,” a prediction that came true on January 6. That injustice, he wrote, “never will be eradicated from her history.” I would like to think that if we had faced that history more fully, we would not have seen rioters in the U.S. Capitol building proudly bearing the Confederate flag and other symbols of white supremacy.

THE BOSTON MASSACRE: A Family History - HamiltonBook.com

Serena Zabin, Carleton College, author of The Boston Massacre: A Family History (2020)

On the night of March 5, 1770, armed agents of the state – British soldiers – shot into a crowd gathered in the street before the seat of imperial power in Boston. When the smoke cleared, five men lay dead or dying in the snow. This year, I published The Boston Massacre: A Family History for the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of an event that is often characterized as the first bloodshed of the American Revolution. By March 5, 2020, the world was already swept up in the first wave of COVID-19, and the murders of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and others were soon to come. I had not written my book to speak to the contemporary issue of police brutality or to address what happens when the military and the police collapse their functions into each other. Nor had I intended to weigh in on violence done in the name of liberty. The heart of my book is about the personal relationships between neighbors, and even within families, that were splintered in the political and social upheavals of the American Revolution.  And yet, this family history of the eighteenth century clearly does have something to say about the events of the past nine months, something that is no less useful for being unintentional. As I began researching this event more than ten years ago, I had to trust that readers in the present would find it relevant. I just had no idea how right I would be.

City of Refuge: Slavery and Petit Marronage in the Great Dismal Swamp,  1763–1856 (Race in the Atlantic World, 1700–1900 Ser.): Nevius, Marcus P.:  9780820356426: Amazon.com: BooksMarcus Nevius, University of Rhode Island, author of City of Refuge: Slavery and Petit Marronage in the Great Dismal Swamp, 1763-1856 (2020)

On January 6, 2021, I observed the flood of white supremacist terrorists who “stormed” the U.S. Capitol building. On Twitter, I reacted in real time. About an hour before “breaching” the Capitol ground’s outer perimeter (mere yards from the west and east entrances to the building), the mob attended a rally, led by an incumbent lame duck president, near the White House. That president amplified yet again the baseless claims that the presidential election of 2020 had been “stolen” from him and his supporters. Injuring tens of U.S. Capitol police officers and other law enforcement officials, the mob feloniously broke into the Capitol building. While inside, they paraded about, carrying Confederate flags, chanting “Stop the Steal,” and targeting U.S. legislators who scurried to evacuate as the mob broke into their offices. One woman lost her life; at least one police officer paid the ultimate sacrifice in the duty to protect the Capitol; several in the mob lost their lives. The mobs’ actions took shape on national television, as awed newscasters on stations of all stripes nationally and internationally broadcast live the mob’s figurative and literal desecration of the nation as we know it.

This mob, however, did not storm the Capitol. It did not breach the building. To say either is to imbue the mob’s actions with the connotations of protest, of a war for a valiant cause. To do that is to validate the very rhetoric that animated the mob, instigated by a lame duck president, that believed it was disrupting an “illegal” (re: totally legitimate) process of confirming the votes that the independent states submitted to Congress by way of the Electoral College. The mob’s felonious entry into the Capitol was not valiant. If anything, it was, at base, a COVID-19 superspreader event.

A few days’ reflection have reminded me that my visceral reaction on January 6th, that “it should NEVER have come to this…” was wrong. As an historian of slavery, slave based economies, and black resistance in early America, I know all too well the examples that are not known widely enough — the 3/5ths Compromise; the Federal Fugitive Slave Law of 1793; the Missouri Compromise; the several bills comprising the Compromise of 1850; the Dred Scott decision of 1857 — the list goes on. Political compromises from 1787 to 1850 did not save the nation from Civil War; postbellum political compromises did even less to quell the nation’s sordid racial history. The truth, as scholars of many stripes know all too well, is that what we observed on January 6th was our nation’s deep seeded politics of hatred, borne of the nation’s original sin — slavery. The mob’s actions were a demonstration of this very truth. And a poignant warning that, as yet, we have much with which to reckon.

Past and Prologue : Politics and Memory in the American Revolution  (Hardcover) - Walmart.com - Walmart.comMichael D. Hattem, Yale University, author of Past and Prologue: Politics and Memory in the American Revolution (2020)

Part of the reason the power of history and historical narratives are so deeply embedded in our national political culture is because it was such an important part of the founding of the nation. We are the inheritors of that tradition, for better and worse. In just the last year, I have watched contemporary events and debates — such as The 1619 Project, the removal of Confederate monuments, the White House Conference on American History, and the 1776 Commission, to name just a few — and have been able to understand them as not just expressions of our contemporary politics but as part of our nation’s long-standing relationship between politics and history. That context that my work has offered has been important because it has not only made me more attuned to when politicians and political parties of both sides use representations of the past to manipulate their audience by drawing on their emotions and previously held beliefs, but has also made it possible for me to then ask important questions such as: who is the intended audience for specific depictions of American history, for what purposes are those depictions being used, and why do those depicting it expect it to resonate with their specific audience? Therefore, I think my work as a historian of memory and politics has made me a more critical “consumer” of history as used in the public square and I would like to think my book would do the same for its readers.
Slavery in the Age of Memory: Engaging the Past: Araujo, Ana Lucia:  9781350048485: Amazon.com: BooksAna Lucia Araujo, Howard University, author of Slavery in the Age of Memory: Engaging the Past (2020)

I have been studying the history and the legacies of slavery in the Atlantic World for nearly twenty years, and we know that the growing interest about the slavery past is closely associated with the persistence of racial inequalities, racism, and white supremacy. But all this could be perceived as an abstract idea. Of course, we have seen black social actors and their academic allies decrying the absence of public markers memorializing this past for several decades, but in the summer 2020 it was the first time that anti-racist public demonstrations (reacting to the assassination of George Floyd) reenacted these debates in tangible ways, not only in the United States, but also in Britain, France, Belgium, Portugal, and many other countries. Living through this time is a strange experience. As these monuments became the target of demonstrators denouncing anti-black racism, it is much more evident on how these devices embody the values of white supremacy. Suddenly, the topics that I discussed in a book to be released in October 2020, were popping up on my computer screen as current events in the summer 2020. The attack by white nationalists, white supremacists and nazis on the US Capitol of January 6, 2021 is also an expression of this context. It’s the culmination of a long history of slavery and racial violence that started centuries ago, but that reemerged in recent years through the actions of white terrorists such as Dylan Roof in Charleston and the mob to defend the statue of Robert E. Lee that happened in Charlottesville in 2017. The speed of the events and the fact that we are physically and emotionally tired make the task of the historian harder. But it offers me a great opportunity to see this history of the present, on which I worked for several years, unfolding before my eyes. At the same time, as someone researching the memory of slavery, I know that working on topics close to the present poses many challenges. And in the present context, it’s very hard to see these events from a broad enough perspective. Still, scholarship and the search for truth, no matter how challenging, are the best path forward.

Remembering the Enslaved Who Sued for Freedom Before the Civil War - The  New York TimesWilliam G. Thomas III, University of Nebraska and author, A Question of Freedom:  The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War (2020)

When I was researching and writing A Question of Freedom, a reckoning with the history of slavery and racism in the United States was already underway. I saw the book was one means to repair American history and confront the terrible menace of white supremacy unfolding at the time — the murder of Black church members at Emmanuel African Episcopal in 2015, the police shootings of unarmed Black men and women, and the violence of Charlottesville in 2017. I set out to write A Question of Freedom because I wanted to understand how slavery had gained sanction under the law and in the Constitution despite its obvious incompatibility with the founding principles of equality and natural rights. Slavery was a moral problem. And Revolutionary Americans knew it. What I did not realize at first was that slavery was always a dubious institution in the law. It had been fought and contested in the law from the nation’s founding and before. One of the main points I try to make is that particular families experienced slavery. Many Americans see slavery as an abstract institution, faceless and nameless. In most textbooks Black families are almost never mentioned by name. But there was nothing abstract about slavery. And Black families, like the Queens and the Mahoneys, who sued slaveholders for their freedom were at the center of the nation’s founding in a way most Americans have not acknowledged. Their freedom suits amounted to a concerted effort to bring the problem of slavery before the nation. Once I met with the descendants of these families, I wanted to tell the story in a way that made it clear that this history is still with us today, that this is palpably felt history. It affects real people, real families. In A Question of Freedom I wanted readers to experience what I was experiencing: the vibrant immediacy of the past, the heightened awareness that events 240 years ago have profound, indeed personal, consequences in our world today.

The Lost Tradition of Economic Equality in America, 1600–1870: Mandell,  Daniel R.: 9781421437118: Amazon.com: BooksDaniel Mandell, Truman State University, author of The Lost Tradition of Economic Equality in America, 1600-1870 (2020)

Quite clearly the subject of my book, American concerns about economic inequality, has been woven throughout this year’s crises in the U.S. This was particularly true of the pandemic, during which the stock market and the numbers of homeless and hungry have both skyrocketed; with the political wars, as one party pushed for massive federal assistance and the other insisted that low-wage workers should essentially be forced back to work regardless of the danger; and (perhaps a little less obviously so) with efforts to confront the racial inequalities imbedded in so many of our country’s concerns. But I was disappointed that the many speeches and extensive commentary on these issues never acknowledged that this country had a long tradition, going back to before its founding, that the health of our republic required avoiding extremes of great wealth or terrible poverty. In fact, I started on that book a decade ago because that history was never mentioned even as the widening wealth gap became a chasm with the Crash of 2007-2008. Alas my hope that the book would help revive that tradition seems, like so many other (and more significant) hopes and dreams, to be steamrollered by the crises of this moment. 

Hearing Enslaved Voices: African and Indian Slave Testimony in BritishSophie White, University of Notre Dame and author, Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana (2019); co-editor, Hearing Enslaved Voices: African and Indian Slave Testimony in British and French America, 1700–1848 (2020)

As an historian of race and slavery, I am constantly struck by lasting legacies, not least in the perpetuation of formal and informal rules aimed at continued disenfranchisement. I am just as struck by the recurring attempts to repudiate this disenfranchisement, and how this disavowal manifested itself both then and now. My research delves into the ways that enslaved individuals in colonial America spoke up, in courtroom testimony, about their subjugation. Thanks to archives that put these individuals’ words front and center, I show how, just as with the Black Lives Matter movement, they used their voices to call out inequities. And if we listen to what they had to say, we hear in their testimony a demand to be heard, to be seen, to be named, and above all, in a damning rebuttal of the premise of slavery, we see them put their full humanity on display.

Peter Alegi on Twitter: "https://t.co/LveH8EPAJP… "

Daryle Williams, University of Maryland, Co-PI enslaved.org and Editor, Journal of Slavery and Data Preservation (both launched, 2020)

2020 was a year when I spent a lot of time staring at Google Sheets. In the shorthand of morning domestic chatter, I merely needed to say “spreadsheets” in response to my husband’s query “what are you working on today?” A few dozens of those Sheets were created by me, for the Free Africans of Brazil Dataset, and many more were part of the terrific datasets published online for the launch of Enslaved: Peoples of the Historical Slave Trade. In time, Enslaved.org seeks to reshape the fields of slavery studies and inclusive scholarly communications, unleashing the power of linked open data to more fully see and understand experiences of enslavement for named individuals and their families. This important, collaboratively produced site aims to be a space where humanists and data scientists, academics and family historians, as well as continental Africans and people of the Diaspora re/un-cover black life matters in a fullness denied them by the archives of the transatlantic trade and its aftereffects. But in a year in which black peoples and allies took to the streets in revolt against the algorithms of oppression, I also wrestle with the fact all this work relies heavily upon the historical anti-black technologies of identification, tracking, and surveillance. From the musty ledger book and nominal registry to the stultifying and disciplining tedium of the spreadsheet, I wonder often, what are we to do when we make people into data.

To read more historians contextualizing this historical moment, I recommend first the excellent Made By History series on the Washington Post. It is edited by expert historians and sometimes they publish multiple op-eds a day written by expert historians. On the events on January 6th, Megan Kate Nelson has created a round-up of ongoing writing by historians, and Lindsay Chervinsky one for historians who have been writing about the political and other fallout including impeachment. On pandemic, Monica Green and other historians of medicine (with links) included her own and other work in this recent Twitter thread. The American Historical Association has collected a bibliography of COVID-related responses by historians.

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A la hora de explicar el arraigo y popularidad de Donald J. Trump entre millones de estadounidense imperan dos factores: el económico y el racial. El primero hace alusión a los efectos de más de trienta años de neoliberalismo “reaganiano”  sobre las clases media y baja blanca estadounidenses. Su empobrecimiento y abandono por parte de los principales partidos políticos -y en especial los Democratas- las hizo muy receptivas a la demagogia de Trump.  Las fabricas se fueron a China o a México, los estadounidense de baja nivel educativo vieron sus opciones económicas reducirse, los ricos se hicieron más ricos y  los pobres cayeron víctimas de opiáceos y de la avariacia de ciertas compañías farmaceuticas.  El esperado goteo (trickle-down) de la riqueza no llegó.

En cuanto al tema racial, es necesario reconocer que, contrario a lo que muchos pensaron, la victoria de Obama en 2008 no marcó el fin de los conflictos raciales en Estados Unidos. Por el contrario, la presencia de un negro en la Casa Blanca exacerbó los ánimos raciales y preparó el camino para el éxito del discurso racista de Trump.  Sitiéndose amenazados y preocupados por perder sus privilegios ante el crecimiento y avance de las minorías raciales, millones de estadounidense vieron en Trump el líder necesario para hacer a Estados Unidos blanco de nuevo. Con Trump en la presidencia, supremacistas blancos y otros grupos extremistas se sintieron el libertad de expresar abiertamente lo que pensaba o sentían en privado.

¿Cuál de estas explicaciones es la correcta? No creo en explicaciones simples, por lo que veo necesario recurrir a ambas para entender cómo llegamos a la toma del Capitolio el 6 de enero de 2021. Ese día, miles de estadounidenses, en su inmensa mayoría  blancos, llegaron a Washington D.C. convocados por el Presidente para cuestionar la certificación congresional de la victoria de Joe Biden. En lo que los medios identificaron erróneamente como algo inédito en la historia de Estados Unidos, los seguidores de Trump marcharon sobre el Congreso y con una facilidad pasmosa lo tomaron por la fuerza. Luego vino un despliegue de lo peor de la sociedad estadounidense.

Quienes participaron en el ataque al Congreso se hicieron parte de una tradición estadounidense, la de cuestionar los resultados electorales cuando no favorecen a un sector social o racial.

En este escrito, el periodista británico Toby Luckhurst reseña los eventos que ocurrieron en Wilmington, Carolina del Norte, cuando en 1898 una turba de hombres blancos derrocaron a una coalición racialmente mixta, que democráticamente habían ganado el control de la ciudad.

Wilmington 1898: When white supremacists overthrew a US government

Toby Luckhurst

BBC News

A mob stands outside the burnt offices of the Wilmington Daily Record

The mob burned down the offices of the Wilmington Daily Record a caption

Following state elections in 1898, white supremacists moved into the US port of Wilmington, North Carolina, then the largest city in the state. They destroyed black-owned businesses, murdered black residents, and forced the elected local government – a coalition of white and black politicians – to resign en masse.

Historians have described it as the only coup in US history. Its ringleaders took power the same day as the insurrection and swiftly brought in laws to strip voting and civil rights from the state’s black population. They faced no consequences.

Wilmington’s story has been thrust into the spotlight after a violent mob assaulted the US Capitol on 6 January, seeking to stop the certification of November’s presidential election result. More than 120 years after its insurrection, the city is still grappling with its violent past.

Short presentational grey line

After the end of the US Civil War in 1865 – which pitted the northern Unionist states against the southern Confederacy – slavery was abolished throughout the newly-reunified country. Politicians in Washington DC passed a number of constitutional amendments granting freedom and rights to former slaves, and sent the army to enforce their policies.

But many southerners resented these changes. In the decades that followed the civil war there were growing efforts to reverse many of the efforts aimed at integrating the freed black population into society.

Wilmington in 1898 was a large and prosperous port, with a growing and successful black middle class. Undoubtedly, African Americans still faced daily prejudice and discrimination – banks for instance would refuse to lend to black people or would impose punishing interest rates. But in the 30 years after the civil war, African Americans in former Confederate states like North Carolina were slowly setting up businesses, buying homes, and exercising their freedom. Wilmington was even home to what was thought to be the only black daily newspaper in the country at that time, the Wilmington Daily Record.

300+ Unfair politics ideas | african american history, black history,  history facts“African Americans were becoming quite successful,” Yale University history professor Glenda Gilmore told the BBC. “They were going to universities, had rising literacy rates, and had rising property ownership.”

This growing success was true across the state of North Carolina, not just socially but politically. In the 1890s a black and white political coalition known as the Fusionists – which sought free education, debt relief, and equal rights for African Americans – won every state-wide office in 1896, including the governorship. By 1898 a mix of black and white Fusionist politicians had been elected to lead the local city government in Wilmington.

But this sparked a huge backlash, including from the Democratic Party. In the 1890s the Democrats and Republicans were very different to what they are today. Republicans – the party of President Abraham Lincoln – favoured racial integration after the US Civil War, and strong government from Washington DC to unify the states.

But Democrats were against many of the changes to the US. They openly demanded racial segregation and stronger rights for individual states. “Think of the Democratic party of 1898 as the party of white supremacy,” LeRae Umfleet, state archivist and author of A Day of Blood, a book about the Wilmington insurrection, told the BBC.

Democratic politicians feared that the Fusionists – which included black Republicans as well as poor white farmers – would dominate the elections of 1898. Party leaders decided to launch an election campaign based explicitly on white supremacy, and to use everything in their power to defeat the Fusionists. “It was a concerted, co-ordinated effort to use the newspapers, speechmakers and intimidation tactics to make sure the white supremacy platform won election in November 1898,” Ms Umfleet said.

White militias – including a group known as the Red Shirts, so named for their un

iforms – rode around on horseback attacking black people and intimidating would-be voters. When black people in Wilmington tried to buy guns to protect their property, they were refused by white shopkeepers, who then kept a list of those who sought weapons and ammo.

Red Shirts pose at the polls in North Carolina

Enter a captioThe Red Shirts militia intimidated and attacked blacn

Newspapers meanwhile spread claims that African Americans wanted political power so they could sleep with white women, and made up lies about a rape epidemic. When Alexander Manly, owner and editor of the Wilmington Daily Record, published an editorial questioning the rape allegations and suggesting that white women slept with black men of their own free will, it enraged the Democratic party and made him the target of a hate campaign.

The day before the state-wide election in 1898, Democratic politician Alfred Moore Waddell gave a speech demanding that white men “do your duty” and look for black people voting.

And if you find one, he said, “tell him to leave the polls and if he refuses kill, shoot him down in his tracks. We shall win tomorrow if we have to do it with guns.”

The Democratic party swept to victory in the state elections. Many voters were forced away from polling stations at gunpoint or refused to even try to vote, for fear of violence.

But the Fusionist politicians remained in power in Wilmington, with the municipal election not due until the next year. Two days after the state election Waddell and hundreds of white men, armed with rifles and a Gatling gun, rode into the town and set the Wilmington Daily Record building alight. They then spread through the town killing black people and destroying their businesses. The mob swelled with more white people as the day went on.

Wilmington Coup 1898 | Downtown Wilmington, NC

As black residents fled into the woods outside the town, Waddell and his band marched to the city hall and forced the resignation of the local government at gunpoint. Waddell was declared mayor that same afternoon.

“It [was] a full-blown rebellion, a full-blown insurrection against the state government and the local government,” Prof Gilmore said.

Within two years, white supremacists in North Carolina imposed new segregation laws and effectively stripped black people of the vote through a combination of literacy tests and poll taxes. The number of registered African American voters reportedly dropped from 125,000 in 1896 to about 6,000 in 1902.

“Black people in Wilmington didn’t think that something like this would ever happen,” Prof Gilmore said. “There was a Republican governor in the state, their congressman was a black man. They thought that things were actually getting better. But part of the lesson about it was as things got better, white people fought harder.”

Deborah Dicks Maxwell is president of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP] in Wilmington. Born and raised in the town, she didn’t learn about the attack until she was in her thirties.

“It was something that those who are here [in Wilmington] knew but it was not widely talked about,” she told the BBC. “It’s not in the school curriculum like it should be – no one wants to admit this happened.”

It was not until the 1990s that the city began to discuss its past. In 1998 local authorities commemorated the 100th anniversary of the attack, and two years later set up a commission to establish the facts. Since then the city has erected plaques at key points to commemorate the events, and has created the 1898 Monument and Memorial Park – something Ms Dicks Maxwell described as “small but significant”.

Given what the city has gone through, it’s no surprise that its residents and historians who have covered its past drew parallels between the 1898 insurrection and the attack on the US Capitol this month. Ms Dicks Maxwell and her NAACP branch had for months after the US election been highlighting what they saw as the similarities between what happened in Wilmington and how politicians today in the US were trying to undermine the election results.

“Earlier that day we had a press conference denouncing our local congressman for supporting Trump, [saying] that there would be a possible coup and that we did not want another coup to ever occur in this country,” she said. Just hours later the mob marched on the US Capitol.

Christopher Everett is a documentary maker who made a film about the 1898 insurrection, Wilmington on Fire. When Mr Everett saw the attack on the Capitol he thought of Wilmington.

“No one was held accountable for the 1898 insurrection. Therefore it opened up the floodgates, especially in the south, for them to… strip African Americans’ civil rights,” he told the BBC. “That’s the first thing that came to my mind after the DC insurrection – you’re opening the door for something else to happen, or even worse.”

The 1898 attack was not covered up. University buildings, schools and public buildings throughout the state were all named after the instigators of the insurrection. Men would later claim to have taken part in the attack to boost their stature in the Democratic Party. As the decades passed, history books started to claim the attack was in fact a race riot started by the black population and put down by white citizens.

“Even after the massacre, a lot of these folks who participated in and orchestrated the insurrection became immortalised – statues, buildings named after them, throughout the country, especially in North Carolina,” Mr Everett said.

CWilmington insurrection of 1898 - Wikiwandharles Aycock – one of the organisers of the white supremacy electoral campaign – became governor of North Carolina in 1901. His statue now stands in the US Capitol, which rioters entered on 6 January.

Mr Everett is now filming a sequel to his documentary to examine how Wilmington is grappling with its past. He said many local leaders are working to “bring the city of Wilmington back to the spirit of 1897, when you had this Fusion movement of white folks and black folks working together and making Wilmington an example of what the new south could have been after the civil war.”

“Wilmington was a model for the white supremacy movement with the insurrection,” he said. “But now Wilmington could also be a model to show how we can work together and overcome the stain of white supremacy as well.”

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Como bien ha analizado la historiadora Joanne Freeman en su excelente libro Field of Blood: Congressional Violence in Antebellum America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018), previo a la guerra civil el Capitolio era un lugar peligroso. Separados cada vez más por el tema de la esclavitud, los legisladores recurrieron a métodos más violentos para tratar de imponer su posición. En otras palabras, la guerra de secesión se comenzó a pelear en los hemiciclos del Congreso años antes de que la primera bomba confederada cayera sobre Fort Sumter el fatídico día 12 de abril de 1861.

En este nota que comparto con mis lectores, la escritora Livia Gershon comenta uno de los episodios más famosos de violencia ocurridos en el Capitolio. El 22 de mayo de 1856, el Representante Preston S. Brooks, un esclavista de Carolina del Sur, atacó con una bastón al senador por el estado de Massachussets y abolicionistas, Charles Sumner. El severo ataque fue en respuesta a un discurso de Sumner criticando a la esclavitud y a los senadores que la defendían.

En el contexto del asalto contra del Capitolio el pasado 6 de enero, creo conveniente continuar subrayando que la violencia es un elemento intrínseco en la historia política estadounidense.

A dramatic portrayal of the 1856 attack and severe beating of Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner by Representative Preston S. Brooks of South Carolina.

A dramatic portrayal of the 1856 attack and severe beating of Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner by Representative Preston S. Brooks of South Carolina
via LOC

Political Divisions Led to Violence in the U.S. Senate in 1856

The horrific caning of Charles Sumner on the floor of the Senate in 1856 marked one of the most divisive moments in U.S. political history.

As we prepare for a new term of government in the wake of the recent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, we might wonder just how contentious federal politics can get. But let’s not forget that time when South Carolina congressman Preston Smith Brooks assaulted Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner with a cane in the Senate chamber, beating him so badly that his skull was exposed and he lost consciousness, was covered in blood, and nearly died. As historian Manisha Sinha writes, this 1856 attack highlighted and magnified the divisions that would cause the country to come apart less than five years later.

Charles Sumner | American Battlefield TrustWhen Sumner joined the Senate in 1851, Sinha writes, his anti-slavery beliefs quickly made him enemies. Opponents blocked him from committee appointments, denied him the floor, and heckled him when he spoke.

Brooks’s attack came after Sumner gave his May 1856 speech “The Crime Against Kansas,” in which he condemned the actions of pro-slavery forces. Brooks claimed that he was provoked by Sumner’s insulting words about another senator, who was a distant relation of his. But, Sinha points out, under the prevailing southern code of honor, the appropriate response to a personal insult from a social equal would be a challenge to duel. Instead, Brooks resorted to a form of violence reserved for social inferiors—notably including the enslaved. Many southerners praised Brooks specifically for using a demeaning form of physical force. As a public letter to Brooks from five Charleston residents put it, “You have put the Senator from Massachusetts where he should be. You have applied a blow to his back… His submission to your blows has now qualified him for the closest companionship with a degraded class.”

Charles Sumner

Senator Charles Sumner was beaten nearly to death by Representative Preston Brooks on the Senate floor in 1856
via Flickr/Boston Public Library

Sinha writes that abolitionists drew the same comparison, to different ends. The New York Tribune asked if Congress was “a slave plantation where Northern members act under the lash, the bowie-knife, and the pistol.” Robert Morris, a Black Boston lawyer, wrote to Sumner that “no persons felt more keenly and sympathized with you more deeply and sincerely than your colored constituents in Boston.”

The attack on Sumner also highlighted divisions in the nation when it came to ideas of masculinity. Some in the South reviled Sumner’s “unmanly submission.” This was in line with pro-slavery rhetoric that tied abolitionism to feminism and accused white male abolitionists of effeminate “sickly sentimentality.” Northerners, on the other hand, were more likely to embrace a bourgeois idea of masculinity rooted in self-control and to view Brooks’s attack on an unarmed man as cowardly.

For many in the North, Sinha writes, the incident called to mind the question of whether slavery was compatible with a republican form of government. The New England Anti-Slavery Convention warned that slaveholders were trying to “crush out” freedom of speech on the floor of Congress, as they had done on their plantations.

As we think about division in our own time, it’s worth considering the historical context of political anger and division in the past.

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Una de las pocas cosas que podríamos denominar como “positivas” de la pandemia, es que el distanciamiento social nos obligó a buscar nuevos mecanismos para compartir y circular el conocimiento. Es así como las videoconferencias en la red -los famosos webinar­- se convirtieron en herramientas muy útiles para  acceder a conferencias, seminarios y presentaciones de las que en “tiempos normales” no habríamos podido participar. Gracias a Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate, Facebook Life y otras plataformas, he podido acceder conferencias de colegas en Estados Unidos, Puerto Rico, Inglaterra, Argentina, etc.

Una de esas actividades es la presentación del libro de la colega Valeria L. Carbone, Una historia del movimiento negro estadounidense en la era post derechos civiles (1968-1988) (Universidad de Valencia, 2020). Producto de su tesis doctoral “Racismo, Raza y clase en la lucha de base y resistencia de los afro-estaunidenses durante 1968-1988” (UBA, 2017), este libro examina el desarrollo de la lucha de los afro estadounidenses en el periodo posterior a aprobación de las históricas  Ley de Derechos Civiles (1964) y la Ley de Derecho al Voto (1965). Como no he leído esta obra, comparto la descripción que la acompaña:

La presente obra analiza la evolucion de la lucha y la resistencia de los afro-norteamericanos a lo largo de las décadas de 1970 y 1980 desde una perspectiva que incorp ora las categorías de racismo, raza y clase. Desde la centralidad de las elaboraciones discursivas e institucionales de las nociones de raza y racismo, así como desde el papel fundamental que ha adquirido la ideología de la supremacía de la raza blanca en el devenir historico estadounidense, la poblacion negra ha entendido su lucha desde la nocion de raza como lugar de resistencia, lo que ha delimitado sus acciones a la hora de perfilar estrategias de lucha colectiva. El estudio de determinados movimientos significativos de cada region del territorio (centro-oeste, el sur profundo, noreste, este) evidencia como estos permiten establecer conexiones y continuidades en cuanto a problemas, tácticas y estrategias, formas de organizacion, retoricas discursivas y tipos de participacion, que dieron forma a un complejo, heterogéneo y versátil proceso de incesante movilizacion nacional mediante el cual la comunidad negra desafio al racismo institucional estadounidense bajo las consignas de raza y clase.

Antes de finalizar debo destacar dos cosas. Primero, que la publicación de este libro coincidió con  la intensificación de los conflictos raciales provocada por el asesinato de George Floyd en mayo de 2020.  Segundo, que publicaciones académicas en castellano analizando la historia estadounidense son escazas o de difícil acceso dados los problemas de distribución que nos separan. Ambos factores hacen del libro de la Dra. Carbone una importante aportación que debe ser reconocida.

Invito a quienes estén interesados en estos temas a ver la presentación de este libro aquí.

Norberto Barreto Velazquez

Lima, 3 de enero de 2021

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En 1865,  el Congreso estadounidense aprobó  una enmienda a la constitución de los Estados Unidos aboliendo la esclavitud. Esta enmienda, la número trece, fue ratificada por todos los estados de la Unión (los estados sureños rebeldes no participaron).  Aunque histórica, la enmienda 13  no acabó, realmente, con la esclavitud en Estados Unidos, sino que dejó las puertas abiertas a la injusticia y al abuso. En su primera sección, la enmienda establece que “ni en los Estados Unidos ni en ningún lugar sujeto a su jurisdicción habrá esclavitud ni trabajo forzado, excepto como castigo de un delito del que el responsable haya quedado debidamente convicto.” En los ciento cincuenta y cinco años de su existencia, esta sección ha sido utilizada para esclavizar a miles de personas, la mayoría de ellos negros. Acusados y convictos, en muchos casos por acusaciones frívolas o inventadas, negros, blancos pobres, latinos e imigrantes terminaron trabajando como esclavos en granjas estatales en el Sur, apagando fuegos forestales en el Oeste, etc.

En esta artículo publicado en The New York Times, el gran historiador estadounidense Eric Foner aborda este tema con la claridad que ha caracterizado su trabajo académico. Quienes estén intersados en este asunto podrían complementar la lectura del trabajo de Foner con el excelente documental 13th (2016) de la directora Ava DuVernay.

 We Are Not Done With Abolition

Eric Foner

New York Times     December 16, 2020

Convicts working on a prison farm in 1934.

Credit…Lomax Collection, via Library of Congress

Early this month, a group of Democratic members of Congress introduced an Abolition Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Why, in the year 2020, does the Constitution need an amendment dealing with the abolition of slavery? Wasn’t that accomplished over a century and a half ago?

The problem is that the Thirteenth Amendment, ratified in 1865, which prohibits slavery throughout the country, allows for “involuntary servitude” as a “punishment for crime.” This loophole made possible the establishment of a giant, extremely profitable, system of convict labor, mainly affecting African-Americans, in the Jim Crow South. That system no longer exists but its legacy remains in the widespread forced labor of prisoners, who are paid far below the minimum wage. The Abolition Amendment would eliminate the Thirteenth Amendment’s “criminal exemption” by adding these words to the Constitution: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude may be imposed as a punishment for a crime.”

When enacted, the Thirteenth Amendment was recognized as a turning point in the history of the United States, indeed the entire world. When the House of Representatives approved it as the Civil War drew to a close, wild scenes of celebration followed. Members threw their hats in the air and embraced one another. Passage, wrote one newspaper, was “the crowning event of the war, indeed of the century.”

The Amendment’s wording, including the criminal exemption, was based on Thomas Jefferson’s proposed but never enacted Land Ordinance of 1784, which would have barred slavery in all the new nation’s territories. From there, it migrated to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which prohibited slavery in territories north of the Ohio River. Scholars have not explained why Jefferson devised this language. Perhaps he thought that labor was good for the character and would aid in the rehabilitation of prisoners. But the coupling of a ban on slavery with an exemption for convicted criminals quickly became embedded in American law. By the time of the Civil War, it could be found in the constitutions of a large majority of the free states. Such language survives in nearly half the state constitutions.


During the 1850s, Republicans, including Abraham Lincoln, popularized the claim that the Northwest Ordinance demonstrated that their new party was following the intentions of the founding fathers when it sought to bar slavery from the western territories. When it came time during the Civil War to write an amendment abolishing slavery, Charles Sumner, the abolitionist Senator from Massachusetts, proposed wording based on the 1791 French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. His colleague Jacob Howard of Michigan rejected the idea of using a French model. “Good old Anglo-Saxon language” was adequate, he declared, and Congress gravitated to the wording of Jefferson’s ordinance.

Because of its very familiarity, the text of the Thirteenth Amendment did not undergo necessary scrutiny. The criminal exemption was almost never mentioned in congressional debates, contemporary newspapers or at antislavery conventions that endorsed the proposed amendment.

Petition · amend the 13th amendment · Change.org

But the clause did not go unnoticed by white Southerners. The all-white governments established in the South by President Andrew Johnson after the war’s end enacted laws known as the Black Codes, which sought to use the courts to consign African-Americans to involuntary labor. Black Americans who failed to sign a contract to work for a white employer could be convicted of vagrancy, fined and, if unable to pay, sold at public auction.

“Cunning rebels,” one congressman complained in 1866, were using “the exceptional clause” to reduce freed persons to slavery. In 1867, the National Anti-Slavery Standard, an abolitionist journal published in New York City, called for the passage of a new amendment eliminating the words “except as a punishment for crime.” Today’s abolition amendment seeks to accomplish the same result by other means.

Also in 1867, a Republican congressman from Iowa, John A. Kasson, introduced a resolution clarifying the “true intent” of the 13th Amendment. It was not meant, he insisted, to authorize the “sale or other disposition” of people convicted of crime. If prisoners were required to labor, this should be under the supervision of public authorities, not private individuals or companies. The resolution passed the House, but did not come to a vote in the Senate.

By this time, Congress had enacted, over Johnson’s veto, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which mandated racial equality in judicial punishments, and had approved the 14th Amendment, requiring states to provide to all people the “equal protection of the laws.” These, senators thought, would prevent the use of the courts to victimize African-Americans, rendering Kasson’s resolution unnecessary. Time would prove them tragically wrong.

During Radical Reconstruction, when hundreds of thousands of African-Americans voted for the first time and large numbers held public office, racial bias in the criminal justice system and the forced labor of those convicted of crime remained minor problems. There were hardly any prisons or prisoners in the South. But with the overthrow of Reconstruction and the imposition of the comprehensive system of white supremacy known as Jim Crow, the prison population expanded rapidly.

Southern states filled their jails with African-Americans, often former slaves convicted of minor crimes. They then rented them out as labor for the owners of railroads, plantations and factories, or required them to work on chain gangs building roads and other public projects, or inside prison walls for private businesses.

The labor of prisoners became a significant source of revenue for Southern states. The system also took hold, but in a much smaller way, in the North.

Without violating the 13th Amendment, Republicans in post-Reconstruction Texas complained, “the courts of law are employed to re-enslave the colored race.” Plantations, they added, “are worked, as of old, by slaves, under the name of convicts.”

Conditions were barbarous and the supply of convicts seemingly endless. “One dies, get another,” became a popular refrain among those who profited from the labor of prisoners.

Credit…William Widmer for The New York Times

To this day, many convicts are required to work while incarcerated. As janitors, plumbers and the like they help make prisons function. They produce goods like furniture for government offices. This year, prisoners have been making hand sanitizer to help combat the pandemic and fighting California wildfires.


With the expansion of private prisons, more and more inmates work for private contractors, sometimes in factory settings within prison walls. In recent years, many companies have used or benefited from the labor of prisoners.

As late as the 1980s, the Department of Justice concluded that the 13th Amendment attaches “some of the characteristics of slavery” to prisoners, including exemption from minimum-wage laws. Indeed, courts have ruled that inmates working in prisons have no constitutional right to payment at all.

A few years ago, the documentary film “13th” linked the origin of today’s racially biased mass incarceration to the criminal exemption clause. But the members of Congress who voted on the 13th Amendment did not anticipate the later emergence of a new system of involuntary servitude in the South.

We hear a great deal in judicial circles about the “original intent” or “original meaning” of constitutional provisions. But the 13th Amendment shows that unanticipated consequences can be as significant as intended ones. The amendment, which destroyed the largest slave system the modern world has known, was deservedly an occasion for celebration. Especially given our heightened awareness of the inequities of our criminal justice system, it is high time the criminal exemption was eliminated, as the abolition amendment proposes.

Like any change in the Constitution, the abolition amendment would need the approval of two-thirds of Congress and three-quarters of the states, a daunting requirement. It is certain to encounter resistance from those who profit from prison labor, now a multibillion-dollar industry, as well as those who deem unpaid labor a just punishment.

But approval would recognize the basic human rights of those convicted of crime. Reinforcing the idea that all people who work should be paid for their labor, it would be a major step in bringing to fruition the “new birth of freedom” promised by the Civil War.

Eric Foner is an emeritus professor of history at Columbia University and the author, most recently, of The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution.

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El Public Domain Review acaba de hacer disponible una versión digital de la primera edición del discurso pronunciado por Fredrick Douglas el 5 de julio de 1852, criticando la hipocrecia de celebrar la independencia de Estados Unidos cuando millones de negros seguían siendo esclavos.  Bajo el título First Edition Pamphlet of Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave Is the 4th of July?” (1852), este documento viene acompañado de un breve análisis de su importancia como una de las piezas de oratoria más significativas de la historia estadounidense, así como también una fuente invaluable para el estudio de la esclavitud en Estados Unidos.

Los interesados en este documento pueden ir aquí.

Para mis lectores hispano parlantes incluyo a continuación la traducción de las primeras dos páginas de este discurso producida por la página Mass Humanities.

Frederick Douglass's "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July ...

El significado del cuatro de julio para el negro Frederick Douglass July 5, 1852

Nota: Por razones históricas, en esta traducción se han empleado las formas de vosotros para la segunda persona plural. Aunque vosotros ya no se usa en el español hispanoamericano, era común durante el siglo xix, y sobre todo en la oratoria; por consiguiente, ayuda a captar, por analogía, el estilo decimonónico del inglés de Douglass.

1 Sr. Presidente, Amigos, y Ciudadanos de Compañero: La tarea antes de mi es alguno lo que requiere mucho pensamiento anterior y estudio para su desempeño adecuado. No me recuerdo nunca haber a parecer como un altavoz en frente de alguna asamblea con nerviosismo, ni con más desconfianza en mi habilidad que hago este día. Los papeles y los carteles dicen que voy a entregar una oración sobre el cuatro de julio. El hecho es, señores y señoras, la distancia entre esta plataforma y la plantación de esclavos, desde que me escapé, es considerable-y los dificultades para superar para que mover del último al anterior, no son leves. Lo que estoy aquí es algo de asombro así como de agradecimiento.

2 Esto, para el propósito de esta celebración, es el cuatro de julio. Esto es el cumpleaños de tu Independencia Nacional, y de tu libertad política. Esto, para ti, tiene la significa de la Pascua para la gente emancipada de Dios. Se lleva a tus mentes al día, y al momento de tu gran liberación. También, esta celebración significa la empieza de otro año de tu vida nacional; y te recuerda que la República de América ahora tiene 76 años. Estoy feliz, ciudadanos de compañero, porque tu nación está muy joven. Eres, incluso ahora, sólo a la empieza de tu carrera nacional, todavía persistiendo en el período de infancia. Repito, me alegre que esto es verdad. Hay esperanza en el pensamiento, y la esperanza es muy necesaria, debajo de los nubes oscuros que se bajan sobre el horizonte.

3 Ciudadanos del compañero, hace 76 años, las personas de este país eran súbditas británicas. El estilo y el título de tu “gente soberana” (en el cual tu ahora gloria) no nació. Estabas debajo de La Corona Británica. Tus padres estimaron el Gobierno Inglés como el gobierno de tu casa. Inglaterra como la patria, aunque una distancia muy lejos de tu casa, les impone, por el ejercito de sus prerrogativas de los padres, a sus niños coloniales, tales restricciones, cargas, y limitaciones, como, en su juicio maduro, se considere sabio, correcto, y adecuada.

4 Pero tus padres, cuyos no adoptaron la idea que el gobierno es infalible, y el carácter absoluto de sus acciones, presumieron a ser diferente del gobierno local en respeto al sabio y la justicia de algunos de las cargas y restricciones. Ellos se fueron en lo que para pronunciar las medidas del gobierno que son injustas, irrazonables, opresivas, y en total medidas que no la gente no debe someter a silencio. No necesito decir, ciudadanos de compañero, que mi opinión sobre las medidas son completamente en conformidad con los opiniones de tus padres. Tus padres se sentían tratados duramente e injustamente por el gobierno local, entonces tus padres, como hombres de honestidad, y hombres de espíritu, buscaron la compensación. Ellos solicitaron y protestaron; lo hicieron con una manera decorosa, respetuosa, y leal. Esto, sin embargo, no respondió al propósito. Ellos fueron maltratados con indiferencia soberana, frialdad, y desdén. Aún perseveraron.

frederick douglass Corinthian Hall 1852 speech

5 La opresión hace enojado al hombre sabio. Tus padres estuvieron intranquilos debajo de este trato. Ellos sintieron como las víctimas de errores graves que son incurables en su capacidad colonial. Con hombres valientes siempre hay un remedio para la opresión. Aquí, ¡la idea de separación total de las colonias de la corona nació! Era una idea sorprendente, mucho más que lo consideramos a esta distancia del tiempo. La gente tímida y prudente de esa día, por supuesto, estaban sorprendidas por esta idea. Su oposición al pensamiento, lo que consideraba peligroso durante en ese tiempo, estaba serio y poderoso; pero, durante de su terror y vociferaciones asustados contra de la idea, la idea alarmante y revolucionaria continuaba, y el país continuaba también. 6 El dos de julio, 1776, el Congreso Continental, para la consternación de los amantes de la facilidad y de los adoradores de la propiedad, alarmante y revolucionaria. Lo hicieron por una forma de una resolución. Casi nunca concebimos resoluciones, las que creamos en nuestras días, que tienen significados mejores que la resolución del Congreso Continental: “Resuelto, que estas colonias unidas son correctos y deben ser estados independientes y libres; también son absueltos de la lealtad de la Corona Ingles en total. 7 Ciudadanos, la resolución cumplió por tus padres. Ellos triunfaron; y hoy cosechas las frutas del triunfo de tus padres. La libertad que ganaron es tuyo; y tú, por lo tanto, puedes celebrar este aniversario. El cuatro de julio es el primer gran hecho en la historia de tu nación-la parte tan importante que todo en tu destino subdesarrollado. 8 El orgullo y patriotismo, no menos que el agradecimiento, te inspiran a celebrar y recordarlo perpetuamente. Lo he dicho que la Declaración de la Independencia es anillo – perno de la cadena del destino de tu nación; entonces, de hecho, lo considero. Los principales que están en ese instrumento son principales de salvación. Adhiere a estos principales, sea leal a estos en todos las situaciones, en todos los lugares, contra de todos los enemigos, y a cualquier precio.

Para la traducción completa se puede ir aquí.

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Comparto este intetesante artículo sobre la criminalización de la música y los músicos afroamericanos. Su autora es la escritora Harmony Holiday, quien nos muestra como el racismo institucional de la sociedad estadounidense abarca básicamente todas las esferas, incluyendo la cultura popular. Holiday analiza como grandes estrellas de la música afroamericana como Billie Holiday, Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus,  y Miles Davis sufrieron persecucióny violencia policiaca por ser negros. La imagen de Billie Holliday muriendo esposada a su cama de hospital resulta demoledora.  A otros como Abbey Licoln  se les cerraron las puertas a clubs y casas disqueras.

A Brief History of the Policing
of Black Music

Harmony Holiday Dreams of a Black Sound Unfettered
by White Desire

Harmony Holiday

Literary Hub     June 19, 2020

Billie Holiday died handcuffed to her hospital bed because her drug addiction had been criminalized. A Black FBI informant posed as a suitor, hunted her, fell in love with her even, and turned her in for heroin possession, not for hurting anyone, or violence, or for singing too beautiful and true a song but because she was self-medicating against the siege of being a famous Black woman in America, a woman who carried the weight of the nation’s entire soul in her music.

For as long as Black music has been popular, crossover, coveted by white listeners and dissected by white critics, it has also been criminalized by white police at all levels of law enforcement. A micro-archive of the criminalization of Black music and police presence within the music, focused on jazz music and improvised forms, shows why we now cry and chant unapologetically for abolition. Even when our life’s work is to bring more beauty into the world, to create new forms, we are brutalized, policed, jailed, and die in contractual or physical bondage. Or both.

Thelonius Monk’s composition In Walked Bud is dedicated to his friend, fellow pianist Bud Powell, a memento to the night when Bud protected Monk from police during a raid of the Savoy Ballroom in 1945. The Savoy was targeted as one of Black music’s epicenters in Harlem. Bud stepped between an officer and Monk and was struck in the head, incurring injuries that damaged his cognition, causing him to be institutionalized on and off for the rest of his life.

In 1951, Monk and Bud were sitting in a parked car when the NYPD narcotics division approached. Unbeknownst to Monk, Bud had a small stash of heroin and attempted to toss it out the window. It landed on Monk’s shoe instead—Monk was blamed, did not snitch on his friend, and was sent to Rikers Island for 60 days, held on $1,500 dollars bail. When released, Monk’s Cabaret Card, which granted him legal license to play in New York clubs, had been revoked. It would take years for the charges to be dropped and the license reinstated, years the Monk family and innovation in Black music suffered at the whims of the police. And the policing of Monk didn’t stop there.

In 1957, on a drive with Charlie Rouse and Nica, his rich white baroness friend, in Nica’s Bently, Monk asked to stop for a glass of water. Denied this simple request by the white waitress at the cafe they found, Monk just stood and stared at her, agape with disgust. The waitress called the police; when they arrived Monk walked right past them back into the car with Nica and Charlie. He would not get out when the police approached. Get out of the car you fucking nigger. Monk’s window was down and the officer started smashing his hands with a night stick: our genius Black pianist who gave us the break the space between Black thoughts and Black notes, getting his hands bashed and broken by police because he wanted a glass of water. Monk was cuffed, humming, his bloodied hands behind his back in chains.

Monk’s window was down and the officer started smashing his hands with a night stick: our genius Black pianist who gave us the break the space between Black thoughts and Black notes, getting his hands bashed and broken by police.

In 1959 Miles Davis was standing on the sidewalk outside of his own gig at Manhattan’s Birdland. He was with a white woman, smoking a cigarette between sets. A police officer pulled up and asked him what he was doing loitering—at that time a Black man just standing was criminalized, but especially one standing with a white woman. Miles pointed out his name on the marquee, explaining that he was between performances. This cavalier deference to the matter-of-fact seems to trigger the racism always-already seething in some cops.

Miles was beaten over the head with a nightstick, bloodied, cuffed, taken to jail. The incident was a legal nuisance and also altered his disposition, made him both more brooding and more volatile. In Miles’s case being policed in public life led to a rage he would only display in private, that he took out on his wives. His intimate relationships with Black women were overwhelmed by violence, he victimized them and beat into them deflected confessions of his feelings of powerlessness in the face of state violence. He could not be the father of “Cool” and a blatantly dejected Black man, so Black women became the symbols of a trouble he didn’t want to admit stemmed from white men, their policing, their scrutiny, and their over-familiar criticism.

Miles Davis in a New York courtroom, 1959.


Later in his life, when he lived in Malibu and drove expensive sports cars on its canyon roads, police would stop Miles routinely when he was on his way home, to interrogate him on the true owner of his car, had he stolen it, was he some white man’s driver, what was he doing in this white neighborhood with this expensive machine. Money, fame, all levels of success, were no exemption. Miles’s presence as a Black man was as policed by the state as his changing sound was by white music critics. Everyone wanted him as they saw him, in return he became so original that he could take his tone into almost any form, from painting to boxing, to screaming back at their prejudice on his horn, hexing detractors back into their formless obsessions with his immaculate Blackness.


Abbey Lincoln - It's Magic (1958, Vinyl) | Discogs


In 1961, when the “Freedom Now!” Suite debuted, written by Max Roach and Oscar Brown, Jr., performed most visibly by Abbey Lincoln as she moaned and screamed its depiction of the path Black Americans took from slavery to citizenship, the result was the blacklisting of Max, Abbey, and Oscar from many performance venues in the US. The hushed accusations that they were controversial for making true music policed their ability to share that music with American audiences. Abbey screaming on stage like a fugitive slave found and being branded and beaten was a vision the country was not ready to allow without backlash.

Club owners and record companies helped marginalize their music, interrupted the course of star-making, and tamed some of the candid militancy in all of their spirits. The state can police Black music directly, but it can also deploy its tacit muzzle, which is almost worse for the anxiety and psychic distress it invites. These artists knew they were being surveilled and penalized for their expression but had no single name or entity to hold accountable, ensuring that some part of them blamed themselves and one another. Oscar Brown, Jr. even expressed resentment toward Max Roach for performing and releasing the suite at all, turning his reputation from benign griot to troublemaker in the eyes of the overseer owners of venues.

The fact that record companies and clubs and recording studios are owned primarily by white men adds another trapdoor to the labyrinth that polices Black music at every level. The boundaries between rehearsal and performance are skewed—with white men always watching and keeping time and signing the paychecks, the code switch isn’t flipped as often as it otherwise would be. There is always a stilted professionalism constraining the freest Black music when it’s recorded in white-owned studios or clubs—the music is not completely ours in those spaces. No matter how good we get at tuning out the white gaze its pressure is always immanent.

Hip hop’s most famous liberation chant is fuck the police. It’s been repeated so often it means almost nothing, it’s almost a call of endearment…

We feel this today in the music that jazz helped make way for. Hip hop, which began in Black neighborhoods as entirely ours, was colonized and coopted and policed into a popular form whose translation to white venues often reduces the music to sound and fury. What is the point of yelling about Black liberation to a bunch of white middle class college students, or at festivals where Black people aren’t even really comfortable or in attendance? What is the point of producing all this music to make white record executives richer and give them what they believe is a hood pass to obsess over and imitate Black forms.

Jazz begat hip hop, and we learned that our most militant sound was also our most commodifiable. The militancy was quickly overshadowed by criminalization, open-secret wars between Black rappers, public awareness of their rap sheets, of the personal business, all of that given to listeners who felt entitled, still do. Criminality became the vogue and Black criminality a fetish within hip hop, the parading of the rap sheet increasing desirability among white audiences who conflated crime with authenticity and realness, trouble glamorized and traded for clout. (When jazz musicians were criminalized it was more devastating, costing them their right to play.)

Prison and bondage have been effectively woven into Black acoustic consciousness. Policing and the police have become the most familiar chorus. Hip hop’s most famous liberation chant is fuck the police. It’s been repeated so often it means almost nothing, it’s almost a call of endearment, a calling forth of the police, a fuck you to them that implies they are omnipresent and within earshot all the time, ready to strike out against any Black song or singer who threatens their lurking fixation on Black life and Black sound.

As the musicians are policed and incriminated so too are their forms, so too is that thought that leads to new Black musical temperaments. Musicians who seek to remain true to themselves often self-marginalize, police their own public presence, reject fame and affiliation in order to keep from being ruined by it or policed into oblivion from the outside—and so fewer Black people hear them. Even still, the police ambush these private sects, asking why they’re at their gig or in response to a noise complaint, escalating to yet another incident, always haunting their music with some threat of captivity.

Presents Charles Mingus - Jazz Messengers

In the late 1960s jazz bassist Charles Mingus tried to open a jazz school in Harlem. He wanted a Black-owned and Black-run place, outside of the university, the studios, and clubs all owned by whites, to teach and develop the music. The city of New York kicked him out of the space, not for any real legal issues but because his wish was a threat to their embedded policing. They removed all of his belongings and arrested him, he cried in the back of the cop car as sheets of his music were left on the street to be swept away by the wind. No such school has been attempted since and Black music is developed and studied in heavily policed white westernized institutions or not at all.

My own father, a Black musician, was getting arrested the last time I saw him. He went to jail, he died. He had spent his life as a kind of warrior: he carried guns, he was the quickest draw anywhere, he mangled studio engineers or lawyers he felt were trying to rip him off, he could not read, had never been taught that skill, but he could kill if he had to. He was avenging something all the time, his vengeance was finally policed and criminalized, never rehabilitated in any more tender way, just returned as bondage. He sang songs in jail, entertained his jailers with stories and songs. I’m still avenging him. I’m still imagining his alter-destiny in a world where his very existence had not been criminalized.

In his story, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” Henry Dumas, who himself was killed by police, invents a Blacks-only jazz club set in Harlem and an “afro-horn” that if heard by white people kills them. A group of white hipsters comes to the club one night, name drops, begs for entrance, and when they are denied repeatedly, they call on a police officer who forces the bouncer to let them in. They enter and start to absorb the music and before the first song is over they are dead, the frequency kills them. They were warned.

I dream of a Black music, a Black sound, free of the shackles of the white gaze, impossible for police to attack or scrutinize, ineffable to those forces, free even of white desire. Unbroken, lethal to detractors, wherein we can hear our unobstructed selves and get closer to them in other spheres of life, where the pleasure we derive from our music isn’t always fugitive, in escape from those forces that police it, and escaping us to reach or appease white audiences and white modes of consumption. I dream of the notes that only we can hear recovered, the ones multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk called the missing Black notes that have been stolen and captured for years and years and years.

Harmony Holiday is a poet, dancer, archivist, mythscientist and the author of Negro League Baseball (Fence, 2011), Go Find Your Father/ A Famous Blues (Ricochet 2014) and Hollywood Forever (Fence, 2015). She was the winner of the 2013 Ruth Lily Fellowship and she curates the Afrosonics archive, a collection of rare and out-of print-lps highlighting work that joins jazz and literature through collective improvisation.

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BlackLivesMatter: El racismo es histórico, es cultural y todos ...En este corto ensayo, el profesor Pedro J. Rodríguez Martin (Universidad Pontificia Comillas-ICADE), identifica seis elementos claves para entender las reacciones al asesinato del George Floyd por la policía de Mianneapolis.  Estos son: la esclavitud, la desigualdad, las condiciones socioeconomicos de los negros en Estados Unidos, la brutalidad policíaca, Donald J. Trump y lo que Rodríguez Martin llama el regreso a 1968, en relación al año más violento en la segunda mitad del siglo XX estadounidense.

Comparto con mi lectores este interesante escrito.

Norberto Barreto Velázquez

Black Lives Matter

Seis claves para entender el peor estallido racial de Estados Unidos en cincuenta años

Pedro J. Rodríguez Martin

Diálogo Atlántico     4 de junio de 2020

Los disturbios raciales registrados en más de un centenar de ciudades de EE. UU. no se explican únicamente por la muerte del afroamericano George Floyd después de que un agente blanco, al detenerle el pasado 25 de mayo en Minneapolis por supuestamente utilizar un billete falso de 20 dólares para comprar cigarrillos, le aplastase el cuello durante 8 minutos y 46 segundos. El peor estallido racial sufrido por el gigante americano en 50 años debe entenderse también como la consecuencia inevitable de una profunda y dolorosa crisis de desigualdad.

  1. El pecado original

La esclavitud es conocida como el pecado original de EE. UU. en una saga de sufrimiento que comenzó hace 400 años. En agosto de 1619, un barco holandés desembarcó en la colonia inglesa de Virginia a más de veinte africanos cautivos y esclavizados. América todavía no era América pero no se puede entender a EE. UU. sin los 250 años de esclavitud que siguieron a ese primer desembarco en Jamestown.

El profesor Eric Foner, en su elocuente manual de historia americana Give me Liberty, explica que entre 1492 y 1820 más de diez millones de hombres, mujeres y niños procedentes de África cruzaron el Atlántico con destino al Nuevo Mundo, la gran mayoría como esclavos. En EE. UU. donde la esclavitud marcaría las diferencias entre el norte y el sur, esta mano de obra cautiva fue empleada sobre todo en el especulativo cultivo de algodón. Para 1860, en vísperas de la guerra civil americana, el valor de todos los esclavos era superior al valor combinado de todos los ferrocarriles, factorías y bancos de la joven nación.

  1. La dolorosa desigualdad americana

Una de las imágenes más sobrecogedoras de la pandemia se registró el pasado mes de abril en la ciudad de Nueva York. Se trataba de una fosa común excavada en la isla de Hart, un enclave del Bronx, para dar sepultura a los cuerpos que nadie reclamaba en las desbordadas morgues de la Gran Manzana. Estas tareas son tradicionalmente realizan presos de la cercana prisión de Rikers. Y estadísticamente, los afroamericanos tienen muchas más probabilidades terminar como enterradores o enterrados.

El estallido racial en EE. UU. debe entenderse como parte de la corrosiva crisis de desigualdad agravada por la pandemia de coronavirus. Los afroamericanos –y también los hispanos– son los que de forma desproporcionada están sufriendo la pandemia de la COVID-19. Ya sea en su condición de víctimas del virus o damnificados de la subsecuente crisis económica. De acuerdo a The Economistaunque los guetos contra los que luchaba Martin Luther King en los sesenta ya no existen como tales, EE. UU. se mantiene profundamente segregada tanto por la clase como por la raza a pesar de ser un país fundado con las mejores intenciones igualitarias.


  1. La peor parte

No hay indicador social –desde fracaso escolar hasta desempleo– en el que los negros de EE. UU. no salgan claramente perdiendo. De todos los enfrentes de esta desigualdad, el económico es el más doloroso y fácil de cuantificar. Según ha recalculado The Financial Timesen la era posterior a la Segunda Guerra Mundial, los niveles de desempleo de los afroamericanos han sido típicamente el doble de los niveles de los americanos blancos. Con todo, en los últimos 10 años se han hecho algunos progresos en la reducción de la brecha gracias al casi pleno empleo que precedió al estallido del coronavirus.

El gran problema de los afroamericanos es que la crisis del coronavirus ha fraccionado la fuerza laboral de EE. UU. y de otras economías avanzadas tres grupos: los que han perdido sus trabajos o al menos alguna parte de sus ingresos; los que son considerados trabajadores “esenciales” que deben seguir trabajando durante la crisis –con riesgo para su propia salud–; o los que son teletrabajadores del conocimiento virtual cuyas vidas apenas se han visto afectadas. Los afroamericanos han caído desproporcionadamente entre los dos primeros grupos.

  1. Brutalidad policial

Durante los disturbios contagiados a más de un centenar de ciudades americanas, además del grito “I can’t breathe”, la otra consigna más repetida es “Hands up, don’t shoot”. De esta forma se intenta llamar la atención sobre el número anormalmente elevado de asesinatos cometidos por la policía en EE. UU. (1099 personas el año pasado), en particular de afroamericanos, que tienen tres veces más probabilidades que los blancos de morir a causa de acciones policiales. Cuando se consiguen formalizar cargos contra los agentes implicados en estos casos, los procesamientos que terminan en veredictos de culpabilidad y condenas son excepcionales.

En el capítulo de las muertes por disparos de policías, información que el Washington Post rastrea cuidadosamente desde 2015, 235 personas negras fueron disparadas hasta la muerte el año pasado por agentes de la autoridad en EE. UU. Cifra que representa un 23,5 por ciento de todas las muertes a manos de policías, o casi el doble del porcentaje de la población estadounidense que es negra.How The Civil Rights Movement Was Covered In Birmingham : Code ...

  1. La gran diferencia: Trump

En sus tres años como presidente, Donald Trump ha confirmado con creces su vocación de agitador-en-jefe. Dentro de esa interesada espiral de tensiones, Trump ha jugado con fuego apelando a los peores instintos e instrumentalizando de forma implícita y explicita el problema racial americano. Al demostrar que no hacía falta ser inclusivo para ganar la Casa Blanca, su ganadora estrategia del Make America White Again que tanto sintoniza con el “nacionalismo blanco” ha terminado por contar con la silenciosa complicidad del Partido Republicano.

En política, el caos suele llevar al fracaso. Sin embargo, en la Casa Blanca de Trump la anarquía ha formado parte desde el primer minuto de su forma de hacer política. Dentro de un tono permanente de tensión, y con la excusa del ajuste de cuentas contra las élites del nacional-populismo, Trump ha alimentado constantemente provocaciones más propias de un pirómano político que del presidente de una de las naciones más diversas del mundo.

  1. El retorno a 1968

Descrédito internacional, violencia extrema, sobredosis de miedo e incertidumbre, retroceso económico, polarización política, protestas raciales y populismo desatado. Por el principio de que la historia no se repite pero a veces rima bastante, la misma descripción a brocha gorda de EE. UU. en 2020 se puede aplicar a 1968, el año que realmente nunca ha terminado para el gigante americano y que se ha convertido en la última fuente de inspiración electoral para Donald Trump. En su último paroxismo populista, ante la intensidad del estallido racial sin comparación desde el asesinato de Martin Luther King, no ha dudado en autoproclamarse como el candidato de la ley y el orden, amenazando literalmente con la Biblia y el despliegue de tropas federales.

Para disimular su demencial gestión de la pandemia, el Trump pirómano-y-bombero-a-la-vez ha copiado a Richard Nixon en su victoriosa campaña de 1968. Durante aquel memorable pulso presidencial, que transformó y fracturó para siempre la política americana, Nixon entendió que cuanto más violentos fueran los enfrentamientos raciales en EE. UU., y peores las noticias provenientes de Vietnam, mayores serían sus posibilidades de llegar a la Casa Blanca.

Además de inventarse y jugar con “mayorías silenciosas” y “estrategias sureñas”, Richard Nixon también contó con la maléfica perspicacia de un joven asesor llamado Kevin Philipps que le hizo saber que “el gran secreto” de la política americana no era otro que identificar quién odia a quién. Con toda la zafiedad de la que es capaz para cortejar una minoría más bien vociferante pero suficiente para ganar un segundo mandato, Trump también intenta utilizar el mismo secreto odioso que hizo posible Nixonlandia.

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