Georgetown University Renames Building after Isaac Hawkins, an Enslaved Person Sold in 1838 to Pay Off School Debts

Georgetown’s Freedom Hall Renamed Isaac Hawkins Hall (photo via thehoya.com)

article by Brittney Fennel via jetmag.com

The effects of slavery are still being felt in 2017 and, in an effort to make amends for profiting from the sale of 272 Maryland enslaved people in 1838 to pay off school debts, Georgetown University has renamed two buildings on their campus to honor those who were sold.

The slave sale was conducted by two Jesuit priests and was worth about $3.3 million in today’s dollars. They have renamed one building Isaac Hawkins Hall to honor the first person listed in documents related to the sale. Another building was renamed after Anne Marie Becraft, a free Black woman who taught Catholic Black girls in what was then the town of Georgetown.

This is just one of the many steps the university is taking in order to make amends for the part they played during a painful time in U.S. history. During a speech Thursday afternoon, Georgetown’s president, John J. DeGioia, announced the school would create an institute for the study of slavery and there will be a public memorial to the enslaved people whose labor benefited the school.

Dr. DeGioia also offered the descendants of all slaves whose work helped Georgetown University an advantage in admission which is similar to what they offer children and grandchildren of alumni. Many colleges have tried to hide the fact they benefited from slave labor, but at least Georgetown is not shying away from facts and is owning up to their actions.

Source: Georgetown University Will Name Two Buildings After Maryland Slaves – JetMag.com

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Acquires James Baldwin Papers

Author and activist James Baldwin (photo via thegrio.com)

article via thegrio.com

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at The New York Public Library recently acquired James Baldwin’s personal archive. The archive includes 30 linear feet of letters and manuscripts, as well as drafts of essays, novels, and other works. It also includes galleys and screenplays with notes handwritten on them as well as photographs and other media forms documenting Baldwin’s life and creative output.

“We are more than excited to have James Baldwin return home to Harlem,” said Kevin Young, Director of the Schomburg Center of the new acquisition. “Baldwin’s amazing collection adds to our ever-growing holdings of writers, political figures, artists, and cultural icons across the African diaspora. With the current resurgence of interest in Baldwin’s works and words, and renovation of our own spaces from the main gallery to the Schomburg Shop, the timing couldn’t be better for Baldwin to join us at the Schomburg Center. As a writer myself, I am eager for students, scholars and other writers—I count myself among all three—to have the opportunity to see his profound writing process up close.”

Malcolm X, Lorraine Hansberry, and Maya Angelou all have collections at the Schomburg Center and Baldwin was their colleague. His papers not only complement theirs, but offer researchers a fascinating look at the Civil Rights and the Black Power movements, through the works of these seminal figures,” said Steven G. Fullwood, Associate Curator of the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.

Source: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture acquires James Baldwin papers | theGrio

Don Cheadle Tackling Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street’s 1st Black Millionaire

Don Cheadle (photo via hollywoodreporter.com)

article by Borys Kit via hollywoodreporter.com

Don Cheadle has acquired the film and TV rights to “Prince of Darkness: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street’s First Black Millionaire” by Shane White, with plans to adapt the 2015 book as a starring vehicle. Steven Baigelman, who worked with Cheadle on the Miles Davis biopic “Miles Ahead,” is reteaming with the actor and will write the script for the drama.

Cheadle will produce and star. “Prince of Darkness” sheds light on the obscure story of Hamilton, who was mentioned in an obituary for Cornelius Vanderbilt as the tycoon’s true rival. White’s book details the rise of Hamilton as he is chased out of Haiti and becomes a broker and land agent in 19th century New York, his success prickling both white and black society.

He broke many taboos of the times, including marrying a white woman and owning stock in rail companies on whose trains he wasn’t legally allowed to ride. When Hamilton died, obituaries at the time called him the richest black man in America. The book has been awarded the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic’s best book prize and the 2016 New York City Book Award.

To read more, go to: Don Cheadle Tackling Story of Wall Street’s First Black Millionaire (Exclusive) | Hollywood Reporter

‘Hidden Figures’ Author Margot Lee Shetterly Signs Two-Book Deal with Viking

Margot Lee Shetterly (photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)

article by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

Following the literary and film success of “Hidden Figures,” author Margot Lee Shetterly will turn her attention to two little-known but prominent Black families in Baltimore. Viking Books announced today (April 10) that it has acquired the rights to Shetterly’s next two books.

The first will focus on the mid 20th-century achievements of the Murphys, a publishing family, and the entrepreneurial Adams family. As described by PBS, formerly enslaved patriarch John Henry Murphy founded the The Afro-American newspaper and turned it, with his children, into one of the country’s most widely-read Black titles.

The paper tackled Jim Crow, the lack of Black representation in Baltimore government and other racial justice issues throughout its existence. The Murphys used this influence to successfully advocate local change, including desegregating the University of Maryland‘s law school.

A 2011 Baltimore Sun obituary for Adams family leader William “Little Willie” Adams notes that he and his schoolteacher-turned-politician wife Victorine spun wealth generated in the Great Depression-era underground economy into systematic venture capital and philanthropy. Their investments and donations sustained Black business development, employment and political clout for decades in Baltimore.

According to a Viking press statement about the not-yet titled book, “Shetterly will bring the history of Baltimore to life through the success stories of the Adamses and the Murphys, also showing the contrasting challenges faced by those left behind by redlining, lack of economic opportunity, and urban decay.”

The second book lacks a fixed topic but will also uncover the history of hidden Black figures.

Source: Hidden Figures’ Author to Introduce Readers to Unsung Black Families In Baltimore | Colorlines

2017 Frederick Douglass Quarters Officially in Circulation from U.S. Mint

The newest quarter portrays Douglass at a writing desk in the foreground and an outline of his home in Washington, D.C. in the background. Inscriptions include “FREDERICK DOUGLASS,” “DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,” “2017,” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM.” (image via coinnews.net)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to coinnews.net, famed abolitionist and activist Frederick Douglass has become the latest historic icon to land on U.S. currency. Designed by Thomas Hipschen and engraved by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill, Douglass is now on the U.S. quarter, which was released by the U.S. Mint on Tuesday.

400 million Douglass quarters will be in circulation and are also available to order online, in 40-coin rolls and 100-coin bags. Buyers have the option of quarters produced at the U.S. Mint’s facilities in Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco.

The design — which features Douglass writing in the front of his Southeast, Washington, D.C. home where he lived from 1877 until his death in 1895 — was selected by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury as part of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program.

The program issues quarters that honor national park sites, and the place of Douglass’ former home on W Street SE in Anacostia, was named the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site.

To learn about the development of this coin image, watch below:

In related news, Harriet Tubman will be the new face of the $20 bills by 2020.

“The HeLa Project” Exhibition Travels to NY, ATL to Honor Mortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Before Premiere of HBO Film

(image via wn.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Exhibition to Feature Artist Kadir Nelson and Poet Saul Williams.

HBO recently announced the official launch of “The HeLa Project,” a culturally-grounded, multi-media exhibition inspired by the highly-anticipated HBO film, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne, which will premiere on April 22. Directed by George C. Wolfethe film is based on Rebecca Skloot’s critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller of the same name.

The film tells the true story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cells were used to create the first immortal human cell line that ultimately led to unprecedented medical breakthroughs, changing countless lives and the face of medicine forever.

“The HeLa Project” is designed to celebrate Henrietta Lacks, the woman – to give her a voice and to humanize and recognize her. The exhibition features an original portrait by two-time Caldecott Honor Award winning artist Kadir Nelson and an original poem by Saul Williams. Additional art, curated by Lewis Long of Long Gallery Harlem, includes works by Derrick Adams, Zoe Buckman, Madeleine Hunt Ehrlich, Doreen Garner, and Tomashi Jackson.  The product of these elements, plus an educational, sculptural installation about the HeLa cells, all converge in this engaging experience.

(image vialewis museum.org)

The  exhibition debuted last week in Baltimore at the Reginald Lewis Museum, and  will run April 7th – April 9th in SoHo, New York (465 W. Broadway, Fri – Sat, 11am – 7pm, Sun 12pm – 5pm).

“The HeLa Project” will be making additional stops in Atlanta, GA on April 13th – April 16th at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

New Documentary “Talking Black in America” Examines History and Cultural Importance of African American Speech (VIDEO)

(photo via languageandlife.org)

article via jbhe.com

North Carolina State University recently premiered a new documentary film that examines the history of African American speech, its cultural importance, and how African American speech has shaped modern American English. Walt Wolfram, the William C. Friday Distinguished University Professor is the executive producer of the film and the director of the Language and Life Project at the university.

The film – Talking Black in America – is the culmination of five decades of research by Dr. Wolfram. Professor Wolfram stated that “there has never been a documentary devoted exclusively to African American speech, even though it’s the most researched – and controversial – collection of dialects in the United States and has contributed more than any other variety to American English. The status of African American speech has been controversial for more than a half-century now, suffering from persistent public misunderstanding, linguistic profiling, and language-based discrimination. We wanted to address that and, on a fundamental level, make clear that understanding African American speech is absolutely critical to understanding the way we talk today.”

A trailer for the film can be viewed below:

Upcoming screenings:

Tuesday, April 4th at 7pm in Witherspoon 126 (Washington Sankofa Room) on NC State Campus. Screening and panel discussion about the ways language discrimination interacts with other forms of discrimination in the American justice system (NC State’s final Common Reading event of the year). Panelists: Vernetta Alston, Attorney at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, Jim Coleman, Professor of the Practice of Law at Duke University, and Walt Wolfram, Professor of English Linguistics at NC State University.

Thursday, April 6th at 2pm at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. Presentation by Executive Producer Walt Wolfram.

Monday, April 10th at 7pm at the UC Theater at Western Carolina University. Screening followed by Q+A with film producers Walt Wolfram and Danica Cullinan.

To find out more information, go tohttps://languageandlife.org/talking-black-in-america/

Source: New Documentary Film on the Importance of African American Speech : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education