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American History Archives - Institute of the Black World 21st Century

American Indian Movement (AIM) took down a statue of Columbus near the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul

The forgotten history of solidarity between Black and Indigenous freedom movements

By Editors' Choice

By Kyle T. Mays, HNN — Since the emergence of Black Lives Matter in 2013, the Standing Rock Sioux-led global protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and more recently, the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, Black and Indigenous co-resistance has once again come to the forefront of our national consciousness. Instead of calls to “police the police” or for “community control” of police from the 1960s, activists have…

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The Legacy Museum shows visitors elements of America’s long history of racial injustice – slavery, lynching, segregation, police killings of Black teens and the societal addiction to putting Black people behind bars.

‘Truth-telling has to happen’: the museum of America’s racist history

By Reparations

The Legacy Museum, opening in October, lands at a time when racial violence is again on the rise and critical race theory is being used to prevent America’s racist past being taught in schools. By Ed Pilkington, The Guardian — A 30ft wave crashes over your head as you enter the museum, dragging you instantly down into the roiling waters. The waves keep coming at you in gunmetal grey surges,…

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The Harlem Hellfighters

The Harlem Hellfighters were war heroes. Then they came home to racism.

By News & Current Affairs

The Harlem Hellfighters were the most celebrated Black regiment in World War I but were largely forgotten after returning to the United States, where they faced racism and discrimination. (via National Archives).  An exceptional unit of Black soldiers who fought in World War I will receive the Congressional Gold Medal. By Precious Fondren, NYT — For most of her life Debra Willett had a vague idea about who her grandfather…

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African Americans were used as slave labour in California and other western US territories during the 1850s. (

The little-known story of how slavery infiltrated California and the American west

By Reparations

By Kevin Waite, The Conversation — The history of American slavery generally conjures a set of familiar images: sprawling plantations white with cotton, gangs of enslaved African Americans stooped low over the fields, bullwhips cracking in the summer heat. It’s a strictly southern story – or so we’re told. But that narrative misses a huge swath of the North American map and a crucial chapter in US history. American slavery…

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A receipt for the purchase of an 18-year-old enslaved woman named Jane for $4,300. The document was captured from a Confederate ship during the Civil War.

My ancestor was in the slave trade. As California considers reparations, what do I owe?

By Reparations

By Lois Requist, Desert Sun — The receipt for the sale of a 9-year-old girl. That, and Derek Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes, got my attention. Until these two events, I wasn’t sure what reparations had to do with me, a white woman who has always lived in the American West and who has abhorred the idea of slavery for as long as I’ve known about it….

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A South Carolinan wears the "Stars and Stripes" after the Confederate "Stars and Bars" were lowered from the flagpole

Loving your country means teaching its history honestly

By Commentaries/Opinions

What is the point of American history? David French on how teaching the positive and the negative is key to understanding this country. By David French, TIME — Why do you love the United States of America? There is no better time to ask that question than on Independence Day. The answer to that question can and should tell us a great deal about whether our love of country is…

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John Quincy Adams House of Representatives Speech

Why a culture war over critical race theory?

By Commentaries/Opinions

Consider the pro-slavery congressional “Gag Rule” By Frank Palmeri and Ted Wendelin, HNN —  What is Critical Race Theory and why are Republican governors and state legislators saying such terrible things about it? If you are among the 99% of Americans who had never heard of this theory before a month or two ago, you might be forgiven for believing that it poses a grave threat to the United States…

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An enslaved African American family or families pose on the plantation of Dr. William F. Gaines in Hanover County, Virginia, 1862.

The Thorny History of Reparations in the United States

By Reparations

In the 20th century, the country issued reparations for Japanese American internment, Native land seizures, massacres and police brutality. Will slavery be next? By Erin Blakemore, History — The papers were handed out one by one to the elderly recipients—most frail, some in wheelchairs. To some, it may have looked like a run-of-the-mill governmental ceremony with the usual federal fanfare. But to Norman Mineta, a California congressman and future Secretary…

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Frederick Douglass, 1850.

What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? By Frederick Douglass

By Editors' Choice, Reparations

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass gave a speech at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, held at Rochester’s Corinthian Hall. —— Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens: He who could address this audience without a quailing sensation, has stronger nerves than I have. I do not remember ever to have appeared as a speaker before any assembly more shrinkingly, nor with greater distrust of my…

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Stuyvesant Avenue (Slaveowner street names)

What would it take to strip New York City of slaveholders’ names?

By Commentaries/Opinions

Hundreds of New York City’s streets, neighborhoods, parks, schools, and other sites are odes to individuals and families who bought and sold slaves in New York. Five of the mayoral candidates have committed to changing that. Here’s how that’d work. By Caroline Spivack, Curbed — Chances are you’ve strolled through Prospect Lefferts Gardens without a second thought to the Leffertses themselves. The family was one of the wealthiest and most…

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Commentary, Articles and Essays by Dr. Julianne Malveaux

This anthem does not speak for me

By Dr. Julianne Malveaux

By Dr. Julianne Malveaux — Frances Scott Key, author of the Star-Spangled Banner, our “National Anthem” was a dyed in the wool racist. He opined that “Negroes” were a “distinct and inferior race.” He was a slaveholder from a family of slaveholders who influenced the odious seventh President Andrew Jackson to appoint Roger Taney, the author of the Dred Scott decision (“Blacks have no rights that whites are bound to…

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Virginia Theological Seminary

Their ancestors were enslaved workers. Now they’re getting $2,100 a year in reparations

By Reparations

For over a century, the Virginia Theological Seminary used Black Americans for forced labor. Now it’s determined to make amends. By Faith Karimi, CNN — Linda Johnson-Thomas’ grandfather worked at the Virginia Theological Seminary for more than a decade, first as a farm laborer before moving up to head janitor. Her grandparents lived in a little white house on campus with their four children, including her mother. But until two years ago,…

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