Posts Tagged ‘Black History’

The New Negro at The 1900 Paris Exposition

February 24, 2021

The 1900 Paris Exposition (Exposition Universelle), like many World’s Fairs and theme parks, had a leavening of exotic stereotypes. A counterweight was “The Exhibit of American Negroes,” depicting African American social progress, curated by W. E. B. Du Bois. Narrated by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, with Rhae Lynn Barnes, Chad Williams, and Farah Griffin. From Black History in 2 Minutes (Or So).

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The Harlem Hellfighters

February 23, 2021

In January 1918, the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment landed in France to fight in World War I. Rather than desegregating its own combat units, the US put the 369th Infantry Regiment under French command. These American “Harlem Hellfighters” fought for 191 days, longer than any American troops, and were honored by France and the United States. Narrated by Dr. Henry Louis Gates and Hasan Jeffries. From Black History in 2 Minutes (Or So).

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The ‘Birth of a Nation’ and the NAACP

February 22, 2021

In 1915 D.W. Griffith released a propaganda film, “The Birth of a Nation,” enshrining the neo-Confederate “Lost Cause” mythology, the KKK, and its racist justification., using White actors in blackface to perpetuate stereotypes. The NAACP, founded in 1909, largely as anti-lynching organization, understandably protested the film’s screening. Narrated by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, with Vincent Brown, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, and Imani Perry. From Black History in 2 Minutes (Or So).

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The First Underground Railroad

February 18, 2021

For nearly a century, Spanish Florida granted asylum and freedom to escaped enslaved Africans in the Carolinas and Georgia, prompting an “Underground Railroad” that ran south. Narrated by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, with Hasan Jeffries and Vincent Brown, from Black History in 2 Minutes (Or So).

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40 Acres and a Mule

February 17, 2021

After the Union Civil War victory over the Confederacy, former general William Tecumseh met with 20 black ministers to forge a plan for the 4 million liberated bondsmen. The meeting proposed land ownership – “40 acres and a mule,”a promise President Andrew Johnson would renege on, robbing black families of an economic future, unlike the White families who recieved federal land grants. Narrated by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, with Evelynn Hammonds and Farah Griffin, from Black History in 2 Minutes (Or So).

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The Freedman’s Bank

February 15, 2021

After Union victory in the Civil War, the government opened the Freedman’s Bank to provide a safe place for newly-freed black workers to place their funds. By 1871, 37 branches were open in the US, with over 70,000 people depositing $60 million into this bank. Then, in 1873, there was a depression. Narrated by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, with Hasan Jeffries and Vincent Brown, from Black History in 2 Minutes (Or So).

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Reconstruction: The Vote

February 11, 2021

After the Civil War, Black men were given the right to vote, and more than 2,000 Black office holders were serving at every level of America’s political system. Briefly.

Narrated by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, from Black History in 2 Minutes (Or So).

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The Other Oscar

February 22, 2015

The Other Oscar

This year’s Oscar(tm) Awards will be announced today, but you won’t hear about a movie Oscar of yesteryear, Oscar Micheaux. He’s one of the pioneering filmmakers of African-American cinema whose work will be digitally remastered by Kino Lorber. See the promo below and read about the Kickstarter project here.

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Watch Night

January 1, 2013

Watch Night
Many Washingtonians spent late Monday night and early Tuesday morning at African American churches observing Watch Night, a New Year’s Eve celebration little known outside of the Black community, though a painting of such a prayer meeting by New England artist William Tolman Carlton (above) hangs in the White House.

In 19th century England and America the secular celebration of New Year’s Eve was called “Watch Night” – Winslow Homer’s illustration in the January 5, 1861 Harper’s entitled “The Georgia Delegation in Congress Seeing the Old Year Out “ is subtitled “Watch Night.” The New Year’s Eve religious services called Watch Night developed in the Methodist Church in Britain as an occasion for the Covenant Prayer, through which believers re-commit themselves to God.

Thus it may already have been customary for Black Methodists and Baptists to celebrate Watch Night, but December 31, 1862 had a momentous worldly significance: the Emancipation Proclamation would go into effect at midnight. This is why the celebration continues in African American churches today, striking a more joyous note than prior penitential Watch Nights.

The Emancipation Proclamation applied only to slaves of the Confederate States. The prayer meeting congregation depicted in Carlton’s painting consists of “contrabands,” slaves of Confederate owners now in Union-occupied territory. The makeshift pulpit is made of boards salvaged from crates marked “U.S. Sanitary Commission,” the benevolent agency charged with their welfare. The minister’s timepiece reads 11:55.

Carlton’s painting is variously called “Watch Night — Waiting for the Hour” or ” Watch Meeting — Dec. 31st, 1862.” It was sent to President Lincoln by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison in 1864 and also circulated widely as an engraving (below). The painting now hangs in what is called the Lincoln Bedroom, really that president’s study and Cabinet Room, over the desk upon which he signed the Emancipation Proclamation on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, 1862.
Watch Night Meeting

The original handwritten draft of the Emancipation Proclamation will be on view New Year’s Day from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the National Archives (public entrance near the corner of 9th Street on Constitution Avenue, NW).

Related:

“The Emancipation of Abe Lincoln,” Eric Foner, The New York Times

“150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation,” Presidential Proclamation

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Civil War Shame in Virginia

April 9, 2010

 

Civil War Shame in Virginia

There is a Civil War scandal in Virginia that has nothing to do with Governor Bob McDonnell. The culprit: Arlington National Cemetery.

1,500 African American soldiers who served in the Union’s U.S. Colored Troops and thousands of freed slaves housed on the Arlington Estate grounds were buried in the cemetery’s Section 27, which was neglected and allowed to fall into disrepair. The cemetery was ordered to correct this shameful situation almost two decades ago.

Cosmetic changes compounded the institutional disrespect, reports Salon‘s Mark Benjamin. 500 graves now lack headstones, previously identified burials are now marked “Unknown,” some graves are misidentified, and records claim that one man is buried in two places. Cemetery Superintendent John C. Metzler, Jr. who told Congress that neglect of Section 27 would be rectified, still holds his position today.

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