Posts Tagged ‘history’

Napoleon’s Hand

May 14, 2021

Why is Napoleon Bonaparte‘s hand always inside his shirt? Coleman Lowndes explains. A Vox video.

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DC Emancipation Day, 1862: It Was Slaveowners Who Got Reparations.

April 16, 2021

DC Emancipation Day, 1862: It Was Slaveowners Who Got Reparations.

On April 16, 1862, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act freeing the 3000 enslaved people in the District of Columbia. This was nine months before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the Confederate states, many of whom actually remained in bondage until the the war’s end in 1865, and 20 months before ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, which definitively outlawed slavery everywhere in the United States.

Understandably, April 16th is a holiday in the District of Columbia, District Emancipation Day, traditionally celebrated with speeches, concerts, fireworks and parades. There’s a bit of rain on that parade, though, if you take a closer look at history. That 1862 act was called the Compensated Emancipation Act, and it authorized payments to DC slaveowners rather than liberation of enslaved people on moral grounds. It even sought to promote emigration of former slaves outside the borders of the United States.

In any case, black Washingtonians had their freedom. That’s definitely worth celebrating.

More:

“When Slaveowners Got Reparations,” Tera W. Hunter, New York Times

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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A History of Policing in America

April 15, 2021

 A quick overview of the history of policing in America through the lens of race, by Khalil Gibran Muhammad. A clip from an NPR podcast.

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Pope Gregory XIII: Father of April Fools’ Day?

April 1, 2021

Pope Gregory XIII: Father of April Fools’ Day?

In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII instituted the (you guessed it) Gregorian Calendar, which moved New Year’s Day from March 32nd (honest) to January 1st. People who didn’t know that March 32nd was now April 1st and were still celebrating the old New Year looked pretty foolish that day, hence April Fools’ Day.

Or maybe the story’s just a prank. Pretty good yarn, anyway.

More:

“A brief, totally sincere history of April Fools’ Day,” Sarah Caplan, Washington Post

“April Fools’ Day, explained earnestly,” Michelle Hackman, Vox

“April Fools: The Roots of an International Tradition,” Stephen Winick, Folklife Today

“April Fools International: World’s Best Pranks Ever?” Anne-Sophie Goninet, Worldcrunch

“No Kidding: We Have No Idea How April Fools’ Day Started,” Ashley Ross, TIME

“Stamos Documentary? Trader Joe’s Closing? Cornhub? Must Be April Fools’ Day,” NPR

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Jacksonville Was Almost Hollywood

March 23, 2021

In the early 1900s, New York film companies searched for a warm-weather home, and they looked at Jacksonville, Florida, down the East Coast. J’ville’s town fathers recoiled at the thought of film actors running wild through Florida’s sunny streets, so the film folks decamped for far-off California. A Vox video by Phil Edwards.

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Why TV Sitcoms Stopped Using Laugh Tracks

March 22, 2021

When they filmed or taped TV situation comedies, producers found that studio audiences often didn’t laugh in the right places. Sound engineer Charley Douglass developed the Laff Box, and editors used it to “sweeten” sitcom soundtracks with “canned laughter.” Over the last 10 years, the laugh track has disappeared almost entirely. Cheddar explains why.

More:

“The invention of laughter: Charley Douglass and the laff box,” Valentina Palladino, The Verge

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Freedom Riders

February 25, 2021

A brief look at 1961’s Freedom Riders from Smithsonian Magazine. More here.

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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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