Confederate Statues Come Down at University Of Texas at Austin

A statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is removed from the University of Texas campus early Monday morning in Austin. (Eric Gay/AP)

The president of the University of Texas at Austin has ordered the immediate removal of statues of Robert E. Lee and three other Confederate-era figures — Albert Sidney Johnston, John Reagan and James Stephen Hogg — from a main area of campus.

President Greg Fenves announced the statues’ fate Sunday night, and the removals should be complete by mid-morning Monday. A university spokesman says the area has been blocked off. Lee and Johnston were Confederate generals, Reagan was a Confederate postmaster and Hogg was the first native-born governor of Texas and the son of a Confederate general.

In a letter to the university community, Fenves connected the events with the decision to remove the statues now: “[T]he horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation. These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.” …”The University of Texas at Austin has a duty to preserve and study history. But our duty also compels us to acknowledge that those parts of our history that run counter to the university’s core values, the values of our state and the enduring values of our nation do not belong on pedestals in the heart of the Forty Acres.”

“We do not choose our history, but we choose what we honor and celebrate on our campus.”The statues of Lee, Johnston and Reagan will be added to the collection at the university’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History for “scholarly study,” Fenves wrote. The Hogg statue will be considered for relocation elsewhere on campus. In 2015, the university removed a statue of Confederacy President Jefferson Davis.

On Saturday, Duke University announced that it had removed a statue of Gen. Lee that was in the entry to the large chapel on its campus.

To read full article, go to: Confederate Statues Come Down At The University Of Texas : The Two-Way : NPR

College of William and Mary Creating Mural to Honor Lynn Briley, Karen Ely and Janet Brown, 1st Black Students Who Lived on Campus

Left to right: Janet Brown Strafer, Karen Ely, Lynn Briley were the first African-American students to live at William & Mary. (Photo by Ameya Jammi ’12)

via jbhe.com

The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, is commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the first Black residential students on campus by creating a mural that will be permanently displayed at the university’s Swen Library.

In the fall of 1967, Lynn Briley, Karen Ely, and Janet Brown became the first African American students to live in residential housing. All three graduated four years later in 1971. The three women all came to the university last month to have bronze casts made of their faces, which will be included on the mural.

Bob Leek, a local potter who participated in the creation of the bronze masks, stated that “this is an amazing process, and what we’re going to create is just going to be amazing; it’s just going to be very powerful.” The mural will be unveiled on August 31.

A video about the making of the masks of the three women can be seen below:

Source: College of William and Mary Honoring the First Black Students Who Lived on Campus : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

R.I.P. Dick Gregory, 84, Groundbreaking Comedian, Civil Rights Activist and Nutrition Guru

Dick Gregory (photo via hollywoodreporter.com)

by Dennis McLellan via latimes.com

Dick Gregory, who became the first black stand-up comic to break the color barrier in major nightclubs in the early 1960s, a decade in which he satirized segregation and race relations in his act and launched his lifetime commitment to civil rights and other social justice issues, died Saturday. He was 84.

His death was confirmed on his official social media accounts by his family. “It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory departed this earth tonight in Washington, DC.,” his son Christian Gregory wrote. Even before the confirmation from the family, Rev. Jesse Jackson, a longtime friend of Gregory’s, had memorialized him in a tweet: “He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight. He taught us how to live. Dick Gregory was committed to justice. I miss him already.”

In a life that began in poverty in St. Louis during the Depression, the former Southern Illinois University track star became known as an author, lecturer, nutrition guru and self-described agitator who marched, ran and fasted to call attention to issues ranging from police brutality to world famine. An invitation from civil rights leader Medgar Evers to speak at voter registration rallies in Jackson, Miss., in 1962 launched Gregory into what he called “the civil rights fight.” He was frequently arrested for his activities in the ’60s, and once spent five days in jail in Birmingham, Ala. after joining demonstrators in 1963 at the request of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Gregory, who was shot in the leg while trying to help defuse the Watts riots in 1965, made a failed run for mayor of Chicago as a write-in candidate in 1967. A year later, he ran for president as a write-in candidate for the Freedom and Peace Party, a splinter group of the Peace and Freedom Party. Hunter S. Thompson was one of his most vocal supporters.

In the late ’60s, Gregory began going on 40-day fasts to protest the Vietnam War. In 1980, impatient with President Carter’s handling of the Iranian hostage crisis, he flew to Iran and began a fast, had a “ceremonial visit” with revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and met with the revolutionary students inside the embassy. After four and a half months in Iran, his weight down to 106 pounds, he returned home.

Dick Gregory runs for President (photo via latimes.com)

But before Dick Gregory the activist, there was Dick Gregory the groundbreaking comedian. He was a struggling 28-year-old stand-up comic in Chicago who had launched his career in small black clubs when he received a life-changing, last-minute phone call from his agent in January 1961: The prestigious Playboy Club in Chicago needed someone to fill in for comedian Irwin Corey on Sunday night. Gregory was so broke he had to borrow a quarter from his landlord for bus fare downtown. Never mind that his audience turned out to be a convention of white frozen-food-industry executives from the South.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” Gregory said, coolly eyeing the audience. “I understand there are a good many Southerners in the room tonight. I know the South very well. I spent 20 years there one night. …“Last time I was down South, I walked into this restaurant, and this white waitress came up to me and said: ‘We don’t serve colored people here.’ I said: ‘That’s all right, I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.’ ”Despite having to deal with what he later described as “dirty, little, insulting statements” from some members of the audience, the heckling soon stopped as Gregory won them over with his provocatively funny but nonbelligerent satirical humor.

“Segregation is not all bad,” he said on stage. “Have you ever heard of a wreck where the people on the back of the bus got hurt?” What was supposed to be a 55-minute show, Gregory later recalled, went on for about an hour and 40 minutes. And by the time he walked off stage, the audience gave him a thundering ovation. He did so well, he was booked at the club for two weeks and then held over for several more.

To read full article, go to: Dick Gregory, who rose from poverty to become a groundbreaking comedian and civil rights activist, dies at 84 – LA Times

Team USA Long Jumper Tianna Bartoletta Medals at Worlds Despite Being Homeless for Three Months

by Marissa Payne via washingtonpost.com

Tears streamed down the face of Team USA’s Tianna Bartoletta as she collected her bronze medal in the long jump during the final days of the IAAF world championships last weekend. Having previously won gold in the event at worlds twice before, and being the reigning Olympic gold medalist at the long jump, Bartoletta has had better finishes, but she wasn’t crying sad tears. Her tears came from relief — that she could persevere and even succeed through even the darkest of times.

“[Y]ou may find it hard to believe but this Bronze medal is THE most special medal I have ever won,” the 31-year-old wrote on Instagram after collecting her hardware. “Because just three short months ago I had to run away from my own home, I had to decide which of ALL my belongings were the most important, I had to leave my dogs, I had little money, I still have no actual address, all to give myself a chance at having a life and the love I deserved — one that didn’t involve fear or fighting, threats, and abuse.”

Bartoletta shocked her fans, revealing that she’s been homeless for three months, while she escaped what she has alleged was an abusive marriage to her husband of five years John Bartoletta. (For his part, John Bartoletta has characterized the couple’s divorce as “amicable,” per the BBC.) “I took a huge gamble blowing my life up in such an important year for me career-wise. But it was about time for me to see that I was worth it,” she continued. “It was worth it. Thanks so much for riding with me.”

I knew defending my title would be difficult. And you may find it hard to believe but this Bronze medal is THE most special medal I have ever won. Because just three short months ago I had to run away from my own home, I had to decide which of ALL my belongings were the most important, I had to leave my dogs, I had little money, I still have no actual address, all to give myself a chance at having a life and the love I deserved–one that didn't involve fear or fighting, threats, and abuse. To stand on the podium today after not even being in the mix for 4 rounds means the world to me. I took a huge gamble blowing my life up in such an important year for me career-wise. But it was about time for me to see that I was worth it. It was worth it. Thanks so much for riding with me. ❤️

A post shared by Tianna T. Bartoletta (@tianna.bartoletta) on

Not having a permanent address, however, was just one of the many obstacles Bartoletta had to overcome on her way to Worlds. On Wednesday, she opened up to the BBC about the effect her relationship had on her mental health. “I lost my personality,” she said. “I felt like I became a stranger to myself almost.” Bartoletta said she even thought about suicide. “It got so dark that I was contemplated walking off a train platform in front of a train in Europe last season because it just started to feel like I had no way out, no way out of the feelings of frustration and shame,” she said. “It was just so tempting to call it quits.”

Bartoletta told the BBC it took her a while to open up to people about how she was feeling, including family, but doing so put her on the path to feeling better.“This has been my therapy — sharing this story with you, sharing the Instagram post, blogging,” she said. “It has kind of been my way of healing.” Now she hopes to inspire others who might also be struggling. “The most important thing is you’re not alone,” she said. “[Depression] is a very difficult situation, it’s complex, it’s confusing and hard for a lot of people who aren’t in it to understand, but … I understand.”

To read more, go to: Team USA’s Tianna Bartoletta medals at worlds despite being homeless for three months – The Washington Post

Abolitionist and Activist Sojourner Truth Honored as “Tail Fin Hero” by Norwegian Air

(photo via Norwegian Air)

by Judy Rife via recordonline.com

Norwegian Air will honor Sojourner Truth, the abolitionist and activist who was born a slave in Ulster County, NY, as a “tail fin hero.” Truth’s likeness will appear on the fourth Boeing 737 MAX 8 that Norwegian will take delivery of this month.

The airline, which began flights between Stewart International Airport and Europe in June, regularly honors historical figures from the countries where it operates on the tail fins of its aircraft. Last month, it honored its first American, Benjamin Franklin, as well as Sir Freddie Laker from England and Tom Crean from Ireland on the first three of the six MAXs that it will receive from Boeing this year. The remaining two planes will also honor Americans.

The six planes will be used on Norwegian’s new routes between three East Coast airports and Europe, including Stewart Airport, T.F. Green in Providence, R.I., and Bradley International in Windsor Locks, Conn. In announcing the selection of Truth, Thomas Ramdahl, Norwegian Air’s chief commercial officer, called her “an inspiration and a pioneer” for people around the world.“She is someone who pushed boundaries and challenged the establishment in more ways than one,″ said Ramdahl in a statement.

Truth, among the Smithsonian’s “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time,” was born into slavery as Isabella Baumfree around the turn of the 18th century, escaped in 1826 and changed her name to Sojourner Truth in 1843. A gifted orator, Truth is best known for her dedication to the abolition of slavery and women’s rights, but she also was a proponent of prison reform, property rights and universal suffrage. She died in 1883.

Source: Norwegian Air pays tribute to abolitionist Sojourner Truth

Civil Rights and War Hero Octavius Catto to Become Philadelphia’s 1st African American Honored With a Public Statue

This model of the Octavius V. Catto Memorial shows the statue, pillars and ballot box elements that will make up the $1.75 million project. (photo via phillyvoice.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to blavity.comOctavius Valentine Catto will be honored with a statue outside of Philadelphia’s city hall this September. Catto’s statue will be the first monument built to honor an African American erected on public land in the City of Brotherly Love. Although Catto’s memorial has been in the works for years, in the wake of the push to take so many Confederate statues down across the nation, the timing for this statue’s unveiling could not be better.

In Charleston, South Carolina on February 22, 1839, Catto was born a free black man. Catto excelled at his studies, attending a school for black children in Philadelphia, the Institute for Colored Youth, an institution he later led.

According to phillyvoice.com, in his early 20s, Catto was already an active leader in the African American community. He was a member of the 4th Ward Black Political Club, the Union League Association, the Library Company and the Franklin Institute. He demanded that African Americans fight in the Civil War and helped get their regiments inducted into the war. In 1863, at the height of the Civil War, he joined the army and enlisted as a volunteer in defense of the state of Pennsylvania.

Octavius Catto (photo via phillyvoice.com)

Catto was also a major in the Pennsylvania National Guard and played baseball as captain and second baseman for the Pythians, an African American baseball team. He was inducted into the Negro League Baseball Museum’s Hall of Fame.

Beyond being an educator, ball player and a war hero, Philadelphia is celebrating Catto for his local civil rights activism, which went into full gear after he was kicked off of a segregated horse-drawn trolley. He staged a sit-in on the streetcars, refusing to move off of the car. The driver drove the car off of its track and unhitched its horses, unsure how else to get rid of Catto. Catto remained aboard; the other passengers and the driver left him there. Catto also defended several black women who were forcibly ejected from the city’s streetcars, and used a fine levied against his fiancée to drum up publicity for his cause. Finally, in 1867, due in large part to Catto’s pressure, the city desegregated its streetcars.

“In Philadelphia, at that time, you could be wearing a Civil War uniform and not have been able to get on that trolley car,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who has been hoping to bring a statue of Catto to the city since at least 2003, after he learned the story of Catto’s life. “[Knowing this] you realize, this struggle isn’t just a 1960s struggle. It’s a struggle from the beginning of the country.” Continue reading

City of Baltimore Removes Confederate Statues in Overnight Operation 

(Workers removed the Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson monument in Baltimore. JERRY JACKSON / THE BALTIMORE SUN, VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS)

by Russell Goldman via nytimes.com

Statues dedicated to Confederate heroes were swiftly removed across Baltimore in the small hours of Wednesday morning, just days after violence broke out over the removal of a similar monument in neighboring Virginia.

Beginning soon after midnight on Wednesday, a crew, which included a large crane and a contingent of police officers, began making rounds of the city’s parks and public squares, tearing the monuments from their pedestals and carting them out of town.Small crowds gathered at each of the monuments and the mood was “celebratory,” said Baynard Woods, the editor at large of The Baltimore City Paper, who documented the removals on Twitter. “The police are being cheerful and encouraging people to take photos and selfies,” Mr. Woods said in an interview.

The statues were taken down by order of Mayor Catherine Pugh, after the City Council voted on Monday for their removal. The city had been studying the issue since 2015, when a mass shooting by a white supremacist at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., prompted a renewed debate across the South over removing Confederate monuments and battle flags from public spaces.

To see more and read full article, go to: Baltimore Removes Confederate Statues in Overnight Operation – NYTimes.com