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

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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History teacher Philip Jackson teaches the history of slavery to his eighth-graders

Here’s what I tell teachers about how to teach young students about slavery

By Commentaries/Opinions

Few issues are as difficult to deal with in the classroom as slavery in the US. Here, a professor who trains teachers on how to present the topic offers some insights. By Raphael E. Rogers, The Conversation — Nervous. Concerned. Worried. Wary. Unprepared. This is how middle and high school teachers have told me they have felt over the past few years when it comes to teaching the troublesome topic…

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Hilton Head, South Carolina, 1862.

The Demand of Freedom

By Editors' Choice

The United States’ first civil rights movement. By Kellie Carter Jackson — Racism is not regional. I often hear people refer to it as though it were trapped in the South. White Northerners who are appalled by the blatant racism around them will say things like “This isn’t Mississippi” or “Take that attitude back to Alabama.” But whether white Northerners like to recognize it or not, slavery was in every…

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Emancipation Day Celebration 1900

How Deep Is America’s Reckoning with Racism?

By Commentaries/Opinions

Juneteenth is an opportunity to recover the possibilities of history. By Kerri Greenidge, New Republic — In the early 2000s, before the levees broke in New Orleans, it was still possible to be a provincial New Englander and drive in a shiny rental car down Interstate 45 toward Galveston, Texas, without feeling anything except a profound appreciation for the beauty glistening off the West Bay in the sun. Galveston is…

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A new federal holiday, Juneteenth

On Juneteenth, Let’s Celebrate Momentum of a Growing Racial Justice Movement

By Commentaries/Opinions

While recognition of Juneteenth is important, it’s just the beginning of a long road to true Black freedom. By Nicholas Powers, Truthout — “All slaves are free,” Union troops shouted. On June 19, 1865, they read Order No. 3, written by Gen. Gordon Granger to the enslaved people in Galveston, Texas. Cheering crowds followed the soldiers. In the war’s aftermath, ex-Confederates attacked Blacks for celebrating freedom, but joy was stronger than fear. The…

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Rev. Dr. Robert Turner Reparations March

Reparations tied to specific events, like the Tulsa Massacre, reignite the push to address injustices

By Reparations

Black Freedmen in Tulsa hope the national attention on the Greenwood massacre means that more Americans are willing to reckon with the scale of the country’s sins. By Joseph Lee, BuzzFeed — Growing up, Kristi Williams always wondered why her great-aunt Janie Edwards avoided shopping in Tulsa. The family lived nearby in the suburb of Broken Arrow, which is about a 20-minute drive away. Tulsa offered more options, better deals,…

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